Jared Cannonier has never looked past any opponent and he’s certainly not going to start now as he prepares to face arguably the greatest UFC champion in history.
This weekend, Cannonier takes on Anderson Silva on the main card at UFC 237 from Brazil in a crucial fight for each of their careers.
For Silva, this is another opportunity to compete at home in front of a home audience while still proving that he belongs amongst the elite fighters at 185 pounds following his recent loss to Israel Adesanya.
Meanwhile, Cannonier is making his second appearance at 185 pounds after earning a devastating knockout in his debut against David Branch last November. As big as that win was for him as an introduction to the middleweight division, Cannonier knows beating a legend like Silva on his home turf would be a game changer for his career.
“That would be a golden feather in my cap,” Cannonier said when speaking to MMAWeekly. “Not only will it just be good for my resume, it will be good for my career. It will open up so many doors. Open up double doors for me.
“It will put me in a position where I want to be in. Where I can make a boat load of money.”
According to the odds makers, Cannonier is a slight favorite going into the fight with a lot of naysayers believing that Silva is too far past his prime to beat the best fighters at 185 pounds any longer.
At 44 years old with a 1-5 record with one no contest over his past seven fights, Silva’s resume reflects that he’s obviously not the same guy who ran roughshod over the UFC middleweight division for several years.
That said, Cannonier refuses to look at Silva as a horse just waiting to be put out to pasture because that attitude could easily end with him staring up at the lights and the Brazilian crowd coming unglued at UFC 237.
“I expect the best Anderson Silva that anybody has ever seen,” Cannonier said. “A lot of people say he’s older, he’s had the injuries and all that stuff but we can’t get around the fact that he has been training and fighting at the highest level this whole time. When you’re in that position you can’t stay the same. He’s still here. He’s still very relevant.
“He’s not top five but rankings don’t matter. Rankings are how somebody else feels about you. How he feels about himself and how I feel about him, he’s really dangerous. He’s even more dangerous than before.”
At some point age catches up to everybody and Silva is definitely no different but Cannonier doesn’t believe that has been the biggest factor in the former champion’s recent struggles.
Instead, Cannonier points to the sport finally catching up to Silva after he was ahead of the game in so many ways, which allowed him to dazzle crowds for nearly a decade as he put on a long string of jaw dropping performances.
“Here’s a perspective nobody really sees — when Anderson was at the top of his game, he was doing things that people had never really seen before,” Cannonier explains. “Nobody seen him clinch the way he clinched Rich Franklin and threw knees like that. Ain’t nobody seen anybody front kick Vitor [Belfort] the way he did before him.
“So what’s happened over this time, he hasn’t gotten worse, everybody around him has gotten better. This is a new generation of mixed martial artists coming.”
Silva may not be the same fighter he was while he was defending his middleweight title on 10 different occasions but that doesn’t mean he still can’t be lethal inside the Octagon.
That’s why Cannonier is preparing to face the best possible version of Silva and that’s who he wants to beat come Saturday night.
“He’s not worse off. He’s older and yes the body does begin to deteriorate over time and he probably can’t move the same because of his leg. As far as the fighter, as far as his mind, his heart and his will, it’s better than what it’s been,” Cannonier said.
“I’m expecting the best Anderson Silva. I’m expecting the best Anderson Silva anybody has ever seen.”