Six fights into his UFC tenure and poised to sq. off with unbeaten upstart Dominick Reyes this weekend in Santiago, Chile, the 33-year-old remains to be within the early phases of his growth, regardless of having stepped into the cage for the primary time practically seven years in the past and brandishing a 10-Three report total.
Nevertheless it was solely lately that Cannonier was capable of pursue his craft full-time, a shift that included a transfer from Alaska to Glendale, Arizona, the place he now trains below the watchful eye of head coach John Crouch at The MMA Lab.
“As with something, with the ability to focus solely on one factor ought to produce constructive outcomes and, on this case, it undoubtedly has,” stated Cannonier, who started his profession competing within the heavyweight division, faces Reyes this weekend in gentle heavyweight motion and anticipates his subsequent bout coming as a member of the middleweight ranks.
“I don’t need to give it away and say, ‘These are my weapons which have gotten actually good,’ since you’ll see it on the day, however my placing has gotten higher, my wrestling protection has undoubtedly gotten higher and I’m extra conscious,” laughed Cannonier, who enters off a unanimous choice loss to Jan Blachowicz. “I’ve seen extra conditions that come up within the cage working with professionals; individuals who do that day in and day trip.”
That’s not a knock on the people or the health club Cannonier used to name dwelling in Alaska both; it’s only a reality of life for an rising fighter working his method up the regional ladder from a small health club far faraway from a significant metropolitan heart.
Whereas the heavy-handed former heavyweight had an excessive amount of success to start his profession, rattling off seven consecutive victories, together with six straight stoppages, earlier than edging out veteran Tony Lopez to assert the Alaska Preventing Championship heavyweight crown, the flexibility to get constant, high quality seems wasn’t there, and upon matriculating to the UFC, Cannonier knew he wanted a change.
“Consistency is the largest factor,” he began. “Typically you’ve gotten guys that are available one week, however then don’t present up for an additional month or so. Up in Alaska, you’ve gotten guys who work for a month after which they arrive again for a pair weeks after which they return for a month. Individuals have households and their very own jobs and stuff like that, however right here, that’s not the case.
“Being the lone skilled at a neighborhood health club, you’ll be able to’t actually anticipate individuals to cater to you, however in knowledgeable setting, individuals know what you’re there for and the coaches and the workers know that they’re there to make me higher, to make me turn out to be a champion and that’s what we’re doing right here.”
The necessity for consistency doesn’t simply apply to coaching both, however slightly extends to all aspects of the struggle recreation, together with the possibility to get significant reps contained in the cage. Sadly for Cannonier, competing within the gentle heavyweight division has made that tough.
After competing at heavyweight in his first two Octagon appearances, Cannonier dropped down a division and picked up a victory over Ion Cutelaba in his maiden voyage within the 205-pound ranks. For his sophomore exhibiting, he stepped into the cage towards former title challenger and 30-fight veteran Glover Teixeira.
Following a rebound win over Nick Roehrick, Cannonier was rapidly matched up with surging Polish standout Jan Blachowicz, who was making his seventh journey into the Octagon and competing for the 28th time in his profession.
Whereas he admits that getting an opportunity to construct some momentum and slowly work his method up the divisional ladder would have been the “finest case state of affairs,” the affable “Killa Gorilla” has opted to search out the positives in these setbacks and use them as motivation to proceed working to be a extra full, extra polished fighter every day out.
“To have the ability to develop – particularly to have the ability to develop within the Octagon – can be a blessing,” stated Cannonier. “To be thrown into that prime tier of fighters and to have the ability to struggle these guys will be overwhelming for some fighters. It wasn’t overwhelming for me – it was a welcomed problem – and, to an extent, it really gave me confidence.
“Regardless that I misplaced these fights, it instilled confidence in me and bolstered that I have to do higher. It lit a hearth below my ass. I’ve to be higher. I do know I’m higher than what I used to be on these nights and I simply need to be persistently higher in these occasions and be ready.
“The whole lot on this sport ought to be a studying expertise,” he added. “Should you don’t study from every struggle, you’re losing your time. I simply need to preserve getting higher and each time I signal a contract, it’s one other probability for me to level-up.”
Though he’s already acquired his sights set on competing within the 185-pound weight division going ahead, that doesn’t imply Cannonier isn’t pumped to share the cage with Reyes this weekend.
A former collegiate soccer standout at Stony Brook College, Reyes has made a seamless transition to a profession contained in the cage, rattling off eight straight victories with seven stoppages, together with a pair of first-round triumphs in every of his first two forays into the Octagon.
Rangy and highly effective, the 28-year-old has been garnering buzz as one to look at within the gentle heavyweight division and whereas Cannonier is cognizant of what Reyes brings to the desk, he additionally is aware of there some issues the UFC neophyte hasn’t been compelled to cope with but and he plans on altering that this weekend in Chile.
Plus, he simply actually can’t wait to punch any person within the face once more.
“This dude is undefeated – he doesn’t know defeat – so he’s going to stroll in there stuffed with confidence, no worry in his coronary heart,” he stated of Reyes. “However anyone that steps within the cage with me goes to go backwards as a result of there’s worry after they step within the cage with me.
“I need to go in there and have enjoyable,” he added. “I simply need to punch an individual once more. It’s been some time since I’ve been capable of punch a man with the intent to knock him the f*** out.”
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