Jared Cannonier is throwing his name into the hat to serve as the backup for UFC middleweight champion Israel Adesanya's title defense against Paulo Costa at UFC 253.
No alternate fighter has been named for the title fight, but the #3 ranked contender wants to be that man.
“I’m ready to be an alternate, and I’m ready for my contender fight,” Cannonier told MMA Junkie Radio. “As far as my therapist, he feels more comfortable me actually fighting the octagon in October. The more time the better for the repair, so October is the time we talked about. … Hopefully with that offer, the prospect of being the alternate for the title fight, so things are happening. I’m back, hold tight, and get ready.”
Cannonier is scheduled to face former UFC middleweight champion Robert Whittaker at UFC 254. The winner of that bout is expected to get the next title shot against whoever leaves as middleweight kingpin at UFC 253.
Cannonier has been out of action for nearly a year due to a torn pectoral muscle, but he is now back to doing some grappling, which the fighter calls the last hurdle to pass before fighting again.
“Grappling was the last thing that I re-incorporated in my training, like wrestling,” Cannonier said. “That’s how I tore the pec in the first place. On top of that, personally, I wanted to get back to punching and kicking things and doing that part of the game. I’ve been grappling for about a month-and-a-half now, and I could’ve been grappling way before that, but I’m listening to my doctor and to my therapist, and we’re taking things slow. And like I said, I’m back and I feel 100 percent. I haven’t had any issues with it yet, so grappling was the last thing I incorporated. That was the last hurdle. That was the last test.”
UFC 253 takes place on Saturday, September 19 from the UFC Apex in Las Vegas, Nevada with Israel Adesanya and Paulo Costa headlining. Fightful is providing live coverage of the event.