Monday, August 8, 2022

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Adesanya outpoints Cannonier to retain middleweight title

UFC middleweight champion Israel Adesanya made quite a stir with an entrance inspired by WWE legend The Undertaker as he earned a unanimous decision victory over Jared Cannonier.

Adesanya’s gameplan revolved around working the jab, feinting and landing leg kicks. It wasn’t pretty and left the crowd frustrated but it was effective in taking out a powerhouse striker in Cannonier.

Cannonier attempted to make a mid-fight adjustment to work from the clinch against the cage. Unfortunately for the challenger, when he was able to grab a clinch, he was not often able to do much offensively beyond landing knees to Adesanya’s thighs.

The fight was lacking in big action moments, and instead showcased Adesanya’s technical skills and the ability of those skills to nullify the brute force approach of Cannonier. Often Cannonier was left reaching for counter shots after Adesanya had already landed one or two strikes and moved well out of striking range.

Cannonier also occasionally attempted to score a takedown rather than settle for a clinch against the cage, but Adesanya was able to remain on his feet throughout the contest, continuing to show off an evolution of his wrestling skills, or at least the ability to nullify the wrestling of his opponents. With only working from the clinch providing anything resembling success for Cannonier, it was that well to which he attempted to return frequently.

By the fourth round, the fans began to mildly revolt, booing loudly during Cannonier-initiated clinches or when the two men were standing at striking range without engaging in any fireworks. By the fifth round, many fans had begun filtering out of the arena.

At the conclusion of the five rounds of action, it was clear Adesanya had earned the decision, but the fan goodwill from the walkout was gone as he was loudly booed after the announcement of the 49-46, 49-46 and 50-45 scorecards, all in his favor.

After the fight, Adesanya was asked what would be the next step in his career, having already cleared out almost every top contender at 185 pounds.

Adesanya called out Alex Pereira, the man who holds two kickboxing wins over him, including a brutal knockout victory, and who knocked out Sean Strickland earlier on the main card.

“[Our previous fight] was an error on my part,” Adesanya said, addressing Pereira. “Like I said at the press conference, next time I put you on skates. You’ll be leaving like Elsa in Frozen”

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