Luke Rockhold's loss is Jared Cannonier's gain.
The former UFC Champion Rockhold was injured and forced from his planned bout with Chris Weidman at Saturday's UFC 230 event. With Jacare Souza being pulled from his fight in order to compete in the co-main event against Weidman, that left former WSOF double champion David Branch. Stepping in was former top 15 light heavyweight Jared Cannonier -- but Branch didn't have to move up from middleweight to get a fight.
Cannonier has competed at middleweight and light heavyweight throughout his career, and Branch was actually a World Series of Fighting light heavyweight champion, but instead of a 205 pound fight, Cannonier decided to move on down to middleweight.
"When I made the initial comment that middleweight was in my future, that wasn't something I was actively moving towards," Cannonier told Fightful.com's James Lynch in an exclusive interview. "It's something that was just how my body was responding to the training. I know I'm not a natural light heavyweight or heavyweight for that matter. It was inevitable."
After losing three of his last four fights in the UFC, Cannonier takes solace in knowing he wasn't getting beaten by scrubs. He knows that he's presented with a unique opportunity at UFC 230, and wonders if that will affect Branch.
"All the people who beat me have gone on to do very well. I get some sort of comfort in knowing I lost to top notch fighters who have continued their success. It's more of a reward for me than a risk for me. That may be a factor that comes into play for him. Those are things the media can worry about," said Cannonier.
In Jared's corner will be a former UFC Champion in Ben Henderson, who Cannonier says works very well with him.
"He projects, you can hear him. He says the right things at the right moments. I can hear Benson when I'm doing rounds. I respond to Benson. It's going to be the first time I have him in my corner," said Cannonier, before saying he hopes it leads to a first round knockout victory.
In the full interview above. Jared Cannonier (10-4) discusses his short-notice fight against David Branch (22-4) at UFC 230 on Nov. 3.