During the event’s build up, Adesanya stated several times that he’d make it look ‘easy.’ The fight proved to be not all that easy although Adesanya picked up a convincing win.
Adesanya connected first with an outside leg kick. Cannonier inched forward as Adesanya changed stances on the outside. Adesanya utilized kicks to the body and legs of Cannonier. Cannonier answered with leg kicks, but neither fighter
Adesanya pressured Cannonier in the early going of the second frame. They continued to exchange leg kicks. Cannonier landed a counter right hand and his jab started to find a home. Adesanya connected with a right hand. Seconds later Cannonier received an accidental poke to the eye. He was given time to recover and referee Herb Dean gave Adesanya a warning.
Once the fight resumed, they exchanged leg kicks. Adesanya picked up the aggression in the closing moments of the round.
Adesanya took the fight to Cannonier to start the third round. He continued to land leg kicks while Cannonier looked to connect with a big shot. Cannonier pressed forward and clinched. He pressed Adesanya against the cage and landing punches to the body. Adesanya quickly circled free. Cannonier’s punches started getting closer to landing. He tied Adesanya up again and delivered knees to the legs of the champion.
Adesanya used his jab to keep Cannonier on the outside. He connected with a right hand and Cannonier pushed him away. Cannonier closed the distance and landed a right hand. Midway through the round, Cannonier clinched and pressed Adesanya against the cage. Adesanya quickly separated and went back to landing his jab. Cannonier pressed forward and worked to get the fight to the ground, but Adesanya stayed on his feet.
Cannonier landed a right hand to start the final frame. Adesanya responded with leg kicks while his jab continued to find its mark. Cannonier initiated the clinch and pressed Adesanya against the cage with two minutes remaining in the round. He delivered knees to the legs and worked to get the fight to the ground. Adesanya defended the takedown attempt. Cannonier landed a combination forcing Adesanya to tie him up. They separated after Cannonier landed a few knees to the body.
The fight went the distance and the judges’ scorecards were tallied. All three judges scored the fight for Adesanya with the scorecards reading, 49-46, 49-46, and 50-45.
“We know who’s next,” Adesanya said in his post-fight interview with broadcaster Joe Rogan.
Adesanya was referencing Alex Pereira. The two have history. Pereira holds two wins over the champion in kickboxing, knocking Adesanya out in the second match. Pereira knocked out No. 4 ranked Sean Strickland on the main card of Saturday’s event.
“Trust me. The first time I told you it was an error on my part, but that was in kickboxing. It’s easy to knockout, what’s the hillbilly’s name (Strickland)? Because he was parrying the jab, but like I said at the press conference. Next time I put you on skates, you’re going to get frozen like Elsa,” Adesanya said.