UFC 284 is already becoming a chaotic event, but Jared Cannonier is willing to help for the good of the cause and for a chance to travel to Australia.
Cannonier, just one week removed from his split-decision victory over Sean Strickland at UFC Fight Night 216, has voiced his hopes to be included on the February card in Perth. With a major fight between Australian hometown hero Robert Whittaker and Paulo Costa off the books, Cannonier wants to step in to avenge his UFC 254 defeat to “The Reaper” and enjoy the offers of an Australian vacation.
“Hell yeah, I’ve never been to Australia before,” said Cannonier in an interview for The MMA Hour. “I’d love to go there and fight Robert again, and hopefully get the job done this time.”
Cannonier confirmed later in the interview that he hasn’t been contacted by the UFC to step in to face Whittaker. Whittaker revealed that Costa’s withdrawal should keep him out until March or April.
Whittaker vs. Cannonier 2 would be a welcomed upgrade for UFC 284
The UFC would be wise to pursue this fight if Whittaker is willing to be on the card. After the promotion announced a price hike that will increase their pay-per-view prices to a ridiculous $79.99, they need to bank on strong cards to generate the extra revenue.
With the recent announcement that Kai Kara-France is off the card due to injury, something needs to happen.
Islam Makhachev’s title defense against Alexander Volkanovski remains the main event. Even so, Whittaker’s fight with Costa would have served as a huge ticket seller for the show. Costa has made his demands to appear on the card– a $500,000 purse the UFC isn’t likely to entertain.
A win for either man would propel them that much closer to either mandatory challenger or interim titlist status. Whittaker previously held the middleweight title in 2017. Adesanya beat him in his first defense and a failed attempt to regain it early this year at UFC 271.
He handily beat Cannonier at UFC 254. With Cannonier riding high after the Strickland win, a rematch would narrow Whittaker’s path to another title shot.
Though there is no active plan to keep Whittaker on the card, the UFC might want to explore this option as the UFC 284 card continues to fall apart.