UFC 254 went down this past weekend and although Khabib Nurmagomedov‘s retirement has grabbed all the headlines, the co-main event between Jared Cannonier and Robert Whittaker was just as exciting. Unlucky not to get the fight of the night, the middleweight clash had us all on the edge of our seats for the full 15 minutes.
In a back and forth bout, ‘The Reaper’ walked away with a unanimous decision victory, positioning himself for a potential rematch with the champion, Israel Adesanya. Following the fight, Cannonier took to Instagram and revealed that Whittaker ‘broke or fractured my left ulna‘ with ‘the very first kick he threw‘.
Going into the fight, it was certainly seen as a close affair. The former champion, Robert Whittaker was coming off a win against fellow contender, Darren Till. Jared Cannonier was previously undefeated at 185lbs having notched three knockout finishes.
The first round started off cagey, with Cannonier brutalising the Australian with hard leg kicks. Whittaker more than likely did enough to win the first round. He landed the cleaner shots and managed to maintain distance when necessary. Two of the official scorecards had Whittaker winning the first round, with one giving it to Cannonier.
The second was similar to the first, however, Whittaker found his range and was able to work the jab effectively, busting up the right side of Cannonier’s face. Despite briefly landing a takedown and seemingly landing the heavier more damning shots, Whittaker lost the round on two cards. This is arguably as a result of the counter striking of Cannonier catching the judges eyes.
The third round was the clearest, with Whittaker winning on all three cards. Why was this? His famous right high kick almost finishing the fight. He made Jared Cannonier ‘do the dance’, fall up against the cage and faceplant. Cannonier was forced to fight not to get finished. Cannonier did certainly have his moments in the third, seemingly rocking Whittaker with 30 seconds left. Despite this, Whittaker got the nod with a 29-28 X 3 unanimous decision victory.
How much did the broken arm effect Cannonier’s performance? It certainly would have affected him in some way and he stated: ‘[I] couldn’t find my grove and adjust quickly to get the W so I’ll take my L with pride.’
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