With both contenders tasting defeat at July's UFC 276, the stakes are high for Jared Cannonier and Sean Strickland as they headline UFC Fight Night 216 in Las Vegas in mid-December.
Ending 2022 on a high note is imperative for both men. Strickland was knocked out in the opening round of his encounter with Alex Pereira over summer, while Israel Adesanya got the better of Cannonier in their duel for Adesanya's middleweight belt, retaining the title by unanimous decision – Pereira would go on to take it from him in the fifth round of their championship encounter in November.
And with Cannonier and Strickland now on the comeback trail, victory in their upcoming clash will catapult the winner back into the title hunt, while the losing party risks slipping further out of contention.
The loss last time out will have been particularly painful for Strickland, who came into the bout as slight favourite in the betting stakes and was buoyed by a six-fight winning streak, only to be stopped in just 156 seconds by the Brazilian.
This fight was initially slated for October, penned in as the headline fight at UFC Fight night: Grasso v Araujo but a finger injury to Strickland, suffered via an accident involving a sparring partner's tooth that required surgery for infection, put paid to any hopes UFC fans might have had of seeing the two lock horns in autumn.
Strickland, 31, is yet to battle for a UFC title. The 31-year-old American's stock has risen over the past couple of years through wins over Uriah Hall and Jack Hermansson, both in Las Vegas.
Cannonier's February win over Derek Brunson by knockout earned him the Performance of the Night award at UFC 271 and set up his title shot against Adesanya, the first of his career.
The 38-year-old veteran is a native of Dallas, Texas and made his UFC debut seven years ago.
UFC Fight Night: Jared Cannonier v Sean Strickland takes place on the evening of Saturday 17th December.
The programme gets underway at 23:00 GMT, with the main event scheduled for 02:30 GMT on Sunday morning, depending on the length of earlier bouts.
UFC Fight Night: Jared Cannonier v Sean Strickland will be held at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Yes. For UK viewers, UFC Fight Night: Jared Cannonier v Sean Strickland will be broadcast on BT Sport 1.
Sean Strickland is the favourite for the bout at 4/5, with Jared Cannonier just behind him at .
No, there are no belts up for grabs at UFC Fight Night: Jared Cannonier v Sean Strickland, but a long-awaited battle is on the cards all the same as both fighters enter off the back of losses at UFC 276 last July.
21 fights, 15 wins (10 KO), 6 defeats
29 fights, 25 wins (10 KO), 4 defeats
Jared Cannonier v Sean Strickland
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