Derek Brunson is on a five-fight win streak and has climbed to #4 in the rankings. One spot ahead of him is Jared “The Killa Gorilla” Cannonier who has won four of his last five fights.
Brunson and Cannonier will fight on this weekend’s UFC 271 PPV main card. Fans can order the UFC 271 PPV to every fight live, including the Israel Adesanya vs. Robert Whittaker title fight this Saturday night.
Brunson enters, yet again, as the underdog in this fight.
- Brunson: +150
- Cannonier: -180
Since dying his hair and, more importantly, joining Sanford MMA, Brunson has made a resurgence in his career. He has been on a tear, implementing his wrestling more successfully than ever before. And while his striking defense is still porous at times, he has shown a newer ability to eat a shot and recover rather than drop. With his refined approach in the octagon, Brunson typically doesn’t waste any time on the feet before shooting for a takedown. Even if he can’t complete it, Brunson will lay heavily against his foe on the cage, drive his head into the chin of his clinched opponent, and drain their energy early. When the clinch breaks, Brunson will strike just long enough to safely and intelligently shoot in again. He pushes forward, keeps the pressure up, and forces his opponent into frustrating and, eventually, compromising positions.
Cannonier is a polar opposite fighter. He is a striker who prefers to allow his opponent to press forward where he can counter. Cannonier, despite being at an age where strikers can start to struggle, has proven that his intelligence and power can still win fights. He has devastating power from a variety of attacks stemming from his left side: a straight left, a left hook, a left calf kick, and a cracking left body kick. He typically invites his opponent to walk into his range, tag him with a single heavy shot, and then exits on an angle. His shots are powerful but infrequent. If an opponent can close the distance, they’ve historically struggled to take Cannonier down. He has an impressive 85% takedown defense since moving to middleweight. His defense relies on his long legs, solid balance, and, most importantly, his natural strength. Few middleweights can match Cannonier’s strength in grappling or power shots on the feet.
The winner of this fight likely gets the winner of Adesanya vs. Whittaker for the middleweight belt. And this matchup should be tailor-made for Cannonier to win. He has shown the takedown defense necessary to negate Brunson’s path to victory and the power to capitalize on Brunson’s questionable chin. But, I see these two on opposite trajectories. Cannonier is slower, produces less output, and his natural strength necessary for his takedown defense might be lessening with age. With Cannonier’s infrequent strikes, Brunson should be able to shoot and land a takedown more consistently. So long as Brunson can avoid the big power shot of Cannonier, he should get a title fight in the near future.
Prediction: Brunson to win
Michael Pounders is a high school English Teacher, a boxer himself, and is a fan who loves, gambles on, and nerds out about all things MMA.