UFC Fight Night: Cannonier vs. Strickland Fight Card, Predictions & Odds

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Sean Strickland, right, kicks Alex Pereira in a middleweight bout during the UFC 276 mixed martial arts event Saturday, July 2, 2022.
(AP Photo/John Locher)
Anatoly Pimentel @AnatolyPimentel Dec 13, 2022, 7:58 PM
  • Jared Cannonier is the underdog at +105.
  • Sean Strickland is the favorite at -125.

The UFC is ending 2022 with a top-class middleweight fight between two contenders as number three-ranked Jared Cannonier (15-6) faces the number seven-ranked challenger Sean Strickland (25-4) inside the APEX Center in Las Vegas this Saturday, December 17. The two ranked 185-pound contenders were coming off losses in their previous bout inside the Octagon.

Cannonier, despite being the higher-ranked fighter, comes in as the underdog in the UFC odds at +105, while his counterpart, Strickland, is the favorite in BetMGM’s online sportsbook at -125. The result of this fight will not only shake up the division’s ranking anew but could also determine a new challenger to Alex Pereira’s middleweight title reign. 

A win for Cannonier should help him stay in the upper echelon of the weight class and potentially make another run for a title shot, while a win for Strickland will boost his stock up to finally a crack at the title. Both middleweights are UFC veterans, as they will compete in their 15th and 17th fight, respectively, under the Las Vegas-based promotion.

Jared Cannonier Recent Fight Results

Even before signing with the UFC, Cannonier was a feared undefeated finisher in other promotions where he racked up seven victories, including six finishes (four TKO/KOs and two submissions). He fought in various MMA organizations prior to becoming part of the UFC roster, where he joined as a heavyweight fighter in his early years.

Jared Cannonier began his UFC campaign competing in the heavyweight and light heavyweight divisions. He saw seven matches in both weight classes (two in the heavyweight division and five in the light heavyweight division). During this run, he collected three wins via decision and four losses through stoppages before finally finding his home in the 185-pound division.

After an unsuccessful stint in the higher divisions, the “Killa Gorilla” has decided to move down in weight once more to the middleweight division. He was welcomed by David Branch in November 2018 and delivered a second-round TKO win for a perfect start in the middleweight division. Six months later, he was tasked to fight the legendary Anderson Silva and defeated him in one round via TKO.

The MMA Lab representative stretched this winning streak to three with a second-round TKO win over Jack Hermansson in September 2019. This string of successive victories has obtained him an outright opportunity to face the former champion Robert Whittaker in October 2020, but he was outclassed by “The Reaper” and absorbed his first 185-pound division loss via unanimous decision.

But Cannonier quickly collected two more victories against top contender Kelvin Gastelum (unanimous decision in August 2021) and Derek Brunson (second-round knockout in February 2022) to barge his way into a title shot against Israel Adesanya in July 2022. However, Cannonier came up short of realizing his dream to become a champion because the “Last Stylebender” got the victory through unanimous decision.

Sean Strickland Recent Fight Results

Sean Strickland was an undefeated MMA fighter when he joined the UFC in 2014 as he piled up 13 wins, including ten stoppages. In contrast to Cannonier, who competed in the higher weight class, Strickland first fought in the welterweight division, where he appeared in ten bouts. He spent most of his early career competing under the King of the Cage promotion, which is based in California.

“Tarzan” made his UFC debut against Bubba McDaniel in March 2014 and submitted him in the first round via rear-naked choke. Strickland immediately returned inside the Octagon two months later in May to eke out a split decision victory over Luke Barnatt. But it was not an immaculate run for the athlete from California as he absorbed his maiden defeat at the hands of Santiago Ponzinibbio in February 2015 through unanimous decision.

After this setback, Strickland racked up three straight wins against Igor Araujo (unanimous decision in July 2015), Alex Garcia (third-round TKO in February 2016) and Tom Breese (split decision in June 2016) before Kamaru Usman snapped this streak with a unanimous decision win which handed Strickland second career loss in April 2017. Following his second defeat, the 31-year-old appeared in three more welterweight bouts, beating Court McGee and Nordine Taleb and losing to Elizeu Zaleski dos Santos.

Strickland made a two-year hiatus from the sport and returned to action in November 2020, where he made his middleweight debut against Jack Marshman and outpointed him via unanimous decision. “Tarzan” continued the resurgence in his MMA career by picking up four straight wins over Brendan Allen (second-round TKO in November 2020), Krysztof Jotko (unanimous decision in May 2021), Uriah Hall (unanimous decision in August 2021) and Jack Hermansson (split decision in February 2021).

This impressive stack of victories earned Strickland a top-five spot in UFC’s 185-pound ranking and a number one-contendership fight with Alex Pereira in July 2022; however, he suffered a first-round knockout loss to the Brazilian to delay his bid to challenge for a title. A win against Cannonier this weekend will surely help him bypass other contenders to finally obtain the long-awaited opportunity to fight for UFC’s Middleweight Title.

Cannonier vs. Strickland: Tale of the Tape and Fight Analysis

On paper, both Cannonier and Strickland possess almost identical physical attributes as the former will have a one-and-a-half-inch reach advantage against the latter (Cannonier with 77.5 inches reach and Strickland has 76 inches, while the latter will have a three-inch height advantage over the former (Strickland is six-foot-one and Cannonier is five-foot-eleven). They have an equal leg reach of 41.5 inches apiece.

Record-wise, Strickland has better numbers with 25 wins and only four losses, while Cannonier only has 15 victories and six defeats. But “Killa Gorilla” owns a better TKO/KO rate of 67% against “Tarzan’s” 40%. Strickland, though, has more submission wins (16% compared to Cannonier’s 13%) and decision victories (44% against Cannonier’s 20%), which speaks of the versatility of the fighting style of the much younger fighter.

Speaking of fighting styles, both athletes are known to be strikers who land 3.73 (for Cannonier) and 5.54 (for Strickland) significant strikes per minute, equivalent to 51% and 40%, respectively. On the defensive end, Cannonier only absorbs 3.5 significant strikes per minute compared to Strickland’s 4.01, although Strickland has a slight edge on the percentage of 65% over Cannonier’s 61%.

The most significant difference between the two coming into this match is in the grappling department, where Strickland leads in numbers by a mile. “Tarzan” boasts a 1.14 takedown average per 15 minutes against “Killa Gorilla’s” 0.19; a 61% takedown accuracy compared to Cannonier’s 25%; an impressive 85% takedown defense for Strickland in contrast to the 65% of Cannonier and a 0.29 submission average per 15 minutes over Cannonier’s 0.

With the statistics being laid down above, expect Strickland to use his upper hand in the grappling, especially after coming off that knockout loss to Pereira and knowing Cannonier also has that one-shot knockout power. This will not only neutralize the power that the “Killa Gorilla” possesses, but it will also wear him down throughout the duration of the five-round main event. Additionally, this grappling was the key factor for Strickland in securing the two victories in his last five wins.

Official prediction: Unanimous decision win for Sean Strickland.

See the entire Cannonier vs. Strickland fight card and odds here.

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About the Author

Anatoly Pimentel

Read More @AnatolyPimentel

Anatoly Pimentel is an NBA and MMA writer previously featured in ASEAN Sports, Asian Persuasion MMA, and Overtime Heroics MMA. He graduated from Adamson University with a B.A in Communication and is a Web Content Writer for BetMGM.

Anatoly Pimentel is an NBA and MMA writer previously featured in ASEAN Sports, Asian Persuasion MMA, and Overtime Heroics MMA. He graduated from Adamson University with a B.A in Communication and is a Web Content Writer for BetMGM.