Jared Cannonier is back in the win column.
In the UFC on ESPN 29 main event Saturday, Cannonier (14-5 MMA, 7-5 UFC) defeated Kelvin Gastelum (17-8 MMA, 11-8 UFC) via unanimous decision (48-47, 48-47, 48-47). The middleweight bout took place at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas. It aired on ESPN and streamed on ESPN+.
For five rounds, Gastelum and Cannonier battled. While Gastelum seemed to land the more effective shots in the first two rounds, live and unofficial statistics on the broadcast indicated Cannonier was successfully outnumbering him in the attack.
In Round 3, Cannonier landed a clean check hook – the first truly significant shot of the fight. The punch dropped Gastelum to the seat of his shorts, but he scrambled back to his feet and survived a charging Cannonier.
The fight entered the championship rounds with both men relatively fresh. After a methodical approach from Gastelum in the striking department, Cannonier clipped him with an uppercut. While perhaps more off-balance than hurt, Gastelum again hit the mat – and again, he bounced back up, seemingly unfazed.
The final round was more point-fighting, with the exception of a Gastelum takedown attempt. Gastelum briefly scooped Cannonier’s legs out and they hit the mat, but only for a few seconds. Once separated, Cannonier defended Gastelum’s next attempt. Cannonier claimed an eye poke in the final minute and although Gastelum tied him up, he was able to defend a third takedown attempt.
Cannonier’s return from a near-year layoff due to multiple arm surgeries was successful. He bounced back into the win column after an October 2020 loss to former UFC middleweight champion Robert Whittaker, the fight he sustained his arm injury in. Cannonier moves to 4-1 since he dropped to middleweight in 2018.
For Gastelum, who is 29, the loss is his fourth in five outings. Despite his struggles to increase his win totals, Gastelum has proven durable and competitive as four of those losses have come via decision.
Jared Cannonier def. Kelvin Gastelum via unanimous decision (48-47, 48-47, 48-47)
Mark Madsen def. Clay Guida via split decision (29-28, 28-29, 30-27)
Parker Porter def. Chase Sherman via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)
Saidyokub Kakhramonov def. Trevin Jones via technical submission (guillotine choke) – Round 3, 4:39
Vinc Pichel def. Austin Hubbard via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
Alexandre Pantoja def. Brandon Royval via submission (rear-naked choke) – Round 2, 1:46
Austin Lingo def. Luis Saldana via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
Brian Kelleher def. Domingo Pilarte via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
Josiane Nunes def. Bea Malecki via knockout (punch) – Round 1, 4:54
William Knight def. Fabio Cherant via knockout (punches) – Round 1, 3:58
Ignacio Bahamondes def. Roosevelt Roberts via knockout (head kick) – Round 3, 4:55
Ramiz Brahimaj def. Sasha Palatnikov via technical submission (rear-naked choke) – Round 1, 2:33