MMAOB staff writer Adam Martin takes a deeper look at the main event of UFC Vegas 66, a five-round middleweight bout between Sean Strickland and Jared Cannonier. The event takes place on Saturday, December 17 at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Sean Strickland (-120)
Strickland (25-4) is the No. 7 ranked middleweight in the UFC. The 31-year-old American is coming off a KO loss to current champ Alex Pereira, but he had won six straight fights before that and was looking like one of the best fighters in the weight class. Strickland is very solid on the feet as he has a very technical striking attack and he is able to outstrike his opponent off of the jab. He also has decent grappling as well and he’s shown he can go five hard rounds. Overall, Strickland is one of the best middleweights in the UFC right now and a win over Cannonier puts him into the top five.
Jared Cannonier (+100)
Cannonier (15-6) is the No. 3 ranked middleweight in the UFC. The 38-year-old American lost a decision to former champ Israel Adesanya in his last fight but he had gone 5-1 as a middleweight prior to that. A former UFC heavyweight and light heavyweight, Cannonier is one of the biggest middleweights in the division and one of the most powerful. He packs a serious punch and he has nasty leg kicks as well. Overall Cannonier is an excellent middleweight and a true contender. He is getting up there in age and that means he has to start getting on a winning streak now if he wants to make another run for the middleweight title now that Pereira is the new champion of the division.
Fight Breakdown: I’m expecting a competitive striking matchup here between two of the best middleweights in the world. Both guys have no problem standing and trading with each other and that’s exactly what I think we will see in this fight, as I see a standup fight with limited grappling. On the feet, Cannonier has more power but Strickland throws more volume. It will likely come down to Cannonier’s bigger shots against Strickland’s superior volume. In the end, I believe the volume will trump the power as I see Strickland outlanding Cannonier in terms of numbers over the course of the five rounds. It will be a close fight until the end, but I see Strickland winning the fight by decision.
Prediction: Sean Strickland wins by decision