Khamzat Chimaev wants to fight Alex Pereira, but Jared Cannonier believes he should first face a contender.
Chimaev was one of the first fighters to challenge newly crowned UFC middleweight champion Pereira after he defeated Israel Adesanya by fifth-round TKO at UFC 281 in November. 'Borz' and his team have stated that a fight with 'Po Atan' would be 'amazing,' but he may be able to jump ahead of the rest of the division. With contenders such as the 'Killa Gorilla' in the running for Pereira, Chimaev should be near the back of the pack.
“I feel like you should definitely fight your way to the top,” said Cannonier in a recent interview with Helen Yee. “I also understand the business side of things to a certain extent, and it wouldn’t look good. It wouldn’t feel good, that’s for damn sure. But I can’t sit here and say this is what he should do to get to the title. Alex Pereira had what? Two? Three fights? And then he won his title. I’m not here to say who should do what to get a title [shot]. The UFC has its structure that it goes by and we’ve seen how it plays out in many different situations.”
Cannonier believes Chimaev should go through a litmus test similar to the one he received at welterweight, where he faced a one-time title challenger in Gilbert Burns. Cannonier, like Burns, is a one-time title challenger, so he fits the bill for the type of fight he wants Chimaev to have and he welcomes it.
“Personally, if he wants to get up there, he needs to go through at least somebody in the top 10,” said Cannonier. “Being one of the ones at the top, he would have to face me, or Robert [Whittaker] or Israel [Adesanya]. If you’re going to give him somebody, give him somebody in the top 3. If you want to just throw him up, give him somebody in the top 3 like they did at welterweight.
“I don’t care what they do with him,” continued Cannonier. “I’m not really focused on him, I’m focused on myself. So I’m sitting right where I am, and whoever comes at me, I’m going to give it to them the same way I’d give it to anybody. And that’s just it. I’m just here to fight. That’d be a fun fight.”
Cannonier last competed in December, when he won a split decision over Sean Strickland at UFC Vegas 66.