Robert Whittaker is off UFC 248, according to Ariel Helwani. The UFC is looking for a replacement for his opponent, Jared Cannonier
Robert Whittaker has formally announced that he’s not fighting at UFC 248 because he has “…a few other things going on in my life that I need to give priority to and sort out…”. Whatever those reasons are, Whittaker isn’t an easy name to replace on any card. Let alone just under two months out of the fight. Now his opponent, Jared Cannonier is left without an opponent.
According to Ariel Helwani, the UFC’s desire is to keep Cannonier on the card, so a replacement is being searched for. Now with less than two months to the March 7 fight date, the attention turns to who should replace Whittaker for the fight. A lot of middleweights have been inactive since the end of fall, so there’s a dearth to chose from.
With a lot of fighters in the middleweight division set to return around springtime to the Octagon, the timeframe to get one of them into the cage seems to work out. So here are the three best replacements for Whittaker at UFC 248.
By the time the fight rolls around in March, Darren Till would have had four months to rest, recover and train. He’ll need it. Till’s usually is a matchup nightmare for a lot of people but Cannonier has a reach advantage over Till. The two fighters will throw punches, so fans will be enthralled with the matchup. Till’s coming off of a win to Kelvin Gastelum and is looking to string together a few more wins in the middleweight division in order to position himself for a title fight. A bout against Cannonier will show if Till can hang in the weight class.
Kelvin Gastelum is having a rough run over his last 11 fights at 5-5 with one draw. He’s on a two-fight skid, losing to the aforementioned Till, and middleweight champion Israel Adesanya. If Gastelum is hoping to keep his ranking, he needs to take a fight against a top 10 talent and win. For Gastelum, that means getting in there against the hard-throwing Cannonier. While it won’t be an easy fight, for Gastelum to get back into the title scene, he has to dispell the notion that he can’t win the big fights. Taking a fight on short notice, and winning, would do a lot to improve his public perception.
A great option would be for Edmen Shahbazyan to take on Cannonier. The two men are flamethrowers of violence, with each racking up KO/TKO’s in 17 of their combined 24 wins. Shahbazyan has 11 career wins nine by KO/TKO. and has yet to lose an MMA fight. This would be a hard fight for Cannonier but one if he were to win that would bump him up the rankings. For Shahbazyan, a win over Cannonier would put him near title contention, and a possible future matchup with middleweight champion Adesanya.
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