UFC Vegas 34 Fight Breakdown: Jared Cannonier vs. Kelvin Gastelum


MMAOB staff writer Adam Martin takes a deeper look at the main event of UFC Vegas 34, a five-round UFC middleweight bout between Jared Cannonier and Sean Strickland. The event takes place on Saturday, August 21 at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Jared Cannonier (-145)

Cannonier (13-5) is the No. 3 ranked middleweight in the UFC. The 37-year-old American has been in the UFC since 2015 and has racked up a 6-5 record over that time while fighting at heavyweight, light heavyweight, and middleweight. Since dropping down to 185lbs in 2018, Cannonier is 3-1 with wins over Jack Hermansson, Anderson Silva, and David Branch, with his loss coming to Robert Whittaker last October in a fight where he broke his arm. Against Whittaker, he showed a lot of heart as he was able to survive a broken arm and a knockdown and make it to a decision, but it also showed that if his power isn’t able to bail him out of his fights, he’s at risk of losing a decision. As talented as Cannonier is offensively, he leaves a lot to be desired defensively as he’s been knocked down by four different opponents in the Octagon. Cannonier is a talented fighter and a win over Gastelum would be huge for his career, but there also comes a lot of risk with him in this spot.

Kelvin Gastelum (+125)

(16-7, 1 NC) is the No. 9 ranked middleweight in the UFC. The 29-year-old American has been in the UFC since 2013 when he won The Ultimate Fighter 17, and he has since then racked up an 11-7, 1 NC record in the Octagon while fighting at both 170lbs and 185lbs. One of the most experienced fighters in the UFC middleweight division, Gastelum has fought and defeated many of the division’s best fighters, holding wins over the likes of Uriah Hall, Vitor Belfort, Ian Heinisch, Ronaldo Souza, and Michael Bisping. He has huge power in his hands and he’s used that power to knock out a variety of opponents. Of course, Gastelum does have quite a few losses in the Octagon, but really, only Robert Whittaker and Israel Adesanya were able to outstrike him, otherwise, his defensive grappling has been his issue. Despite coming off of a one-sided loss to Whittaker, Gastelum has shown time and time again that he is one of the best in the middleweight division.

Fight Breakdown: This should be a competitive fight, but I am leaning towards Gastelum, the underdog, to win the fight. First off, he’s the much younger fight by over seven years. Cannonier is a talented fighter, but at age 37 and coming off of a broken arm, I can already see signs that his body is starting to break down. Second, even though Cannonier is the taller and longer fighter in this matchup, Gastelum has made a career out of beating bigger fighters. I don’t think that the size disadvantage is going to be as pronounced as the statistics might make it. And third, Gastelum actually has experience in five-round fights, while Cannonier does not. I think that can play a difference if this fight goes late. Ultimately, I think Gastelum is the faster puncher with more power, and I worry less about his chin. As talented a fighter as Cannonier is, the number of times he’s been dropped concerns me against a heavy-handed striker like Gastelum. I also noticed that both times Cannonier has been knocked out came against a southpaw, just like Gastelum. I also think that Gastelum can mix in some wrestling. Whether it’s by TKO or by decision, I’m expecting Gastelum to come away with his hand raised as he re-emerges as a top contender in the middleweight division.

Prediction: Kelvin Gastelum

Written by Adam Martin.


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