Jared Cannonier’s Journey Through Three Weight Classes

Jared Cannonier’s Journey Through Three Weight Classes

Taylor Dow|
June 30, 2022|

At UFC 276 on July 2, 2022, Jared Cannonier will challenge Israel Adesanya for the UFC Middleweight Championship at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada. Cannonier has had an interesting journey until this point. Although today Cannonier is a fan-favorite Middleweight contender, his beginnings were a lot different as it took some time for him to find his true weight class in the Middleweight division. Let us take you through his journey from Heavyweight to Middleweight.

The Days of Heavyweight

Jared “The Killa Gorilla” Cannonier made his professional mixed martial arts debut on June 19, 2011, in Alaska, as a Heavyweight, where he won 6 consecutive fights by stoppage. He then defeated Tony Lopez by split decision to become the AFC Heavyweight Champion. This earned him an opportunity to compete for the UFC.

Cannonier debuted against Strikeforce veteran Shawn Jordan, where he lost by KO in the first round, but Jared did not let this break his spirit and took another Heavyweight fight within the promotion, this time finishing Cyril Asker by first round knockout. This win earned him performance of the night honors.


A Drop Down To 205

Determined to make his fighting career successful, Cannonier opted to drop some weight and move down to the Light Heavyweight division, where only a short 8 months later he faced Ion Cuțelaba at 205 pounds and won a unanimous decision in a bout that earned fight of the night honors. In his second fight in the division, he faced future champion Glover Teixeira where he lost a unanimous decision but was not giving up on his dream of becoming a UFC champion as that same year, he faced Nick Roehrick and scored his second win in the division, this time by way of knockout.

Jared Cannonier and Ion Cuțelaba put on a Fight of the Night. Credit: Tracy Lee - USA TODAY Sports.
Jared Cannonier and Ion Cuțelaba put on a Fight of the Night. Credit: Tracy Lee - USA TODAY Sports.

After taking two losses in a row against Jan Błachowicz and Dominick Reyes, Jared decided his days at Light Heavyweight were over and again opted to lose some more weight and drop down to the Middleweight division.

Finding His True Weight Class

Jared’s debut at Middleweight went exceptionally well as he finished David Branch by knockout at 0:39 of the second round at UFC 230 in November of 2018. This secured him his third Performance of the Night bonus. With this win, he became the first modern-day UFC fighter to score knockouts wins in 3 different weight classes inside the promotion. After this, Jared put himself on a fast track to a UFC title when he finished Anderson Silva and Jack Hermansson by KO/TKO within a total fight-time of 10 minutes to cap off 2019.

Now only one fight away from a title shot, he took on one of the greatest Middleweights of all time in Robert “The Reaper” Whittaker and unfortunately came up short losing by unanimous decision. But again, Jared did not let this ruin his dreams of UFC gold and quickly took on Kelvin Gastelum in a main event spot where he won by unanimous decision.

In early 2022, Jared Cannonier and Derek Brunson, competed in a title-eliminator fight. After facing some adversity in the first round of the fight, Jared managed to score the knockout late in the second round, earning him a Performance of the Night bonus and a shot at the Middleweight championship.

It's rare that we get to watch a professional fighter’s weight-loss journey and for them to have as much success as Jared has. Jared’s story is one of dedication and perseverance, going from someone overweight and losing fights to now facing Israel “The Last Stylebender” Adesanya for the Middleweight championship. Regardless of what happens this Saturday in the main event of UFC 276, we can all learn a lot from Jared "The Killa Gorilla" Cannonier.

All of your weekly MMA updates in one place.
Keeping up to date with combat sports news can take up a lot of time, so we’re simplifying the process by bringing the most important stories directly to you. We read the internet all week and then summarize what you need to know in 3-4 minutes.
Enter your email to sign up for the OverUnder newsletter. The first email newsletter in MMA.
By subscribing, you will receive a weekly MMA newsletter from Verdict MMA. You can unsubscribe at any time.