Former UFC middleweight champion Robert Whittaker is reportedly headed back to the Octagon in Spring of 2020. The UFC announced on Friday that Whittaker will return to face rising middleweight contender Jared Cannonier at UFC 248 which is scheduled for March 8, 2020 in Las Vegas.
— UFC Aus/New Zealand (@UFC_AUSNZ) December 20, 2019
Whittaker confirmed the news himself on his Instagram page with a caption that read “Let’s kick the next year off properly. #reapernation #teamwhittaker”
Whittaker has not fought since he lost the middleweight champion to Israel Adesanya who is undefeated since coming over to the UFC. Adesanya finished Whittaker by second-round knockout in a grudge match between Australia and New Zealand back in October at UFC 243.
Before falling to Adesanya, Whittaker was riding a 9-fight winning streak after he jumped up from the welterweight to middleweight division, and won the interim title at UFC 213 against Yoel Romero. After Georges St-Pierre relinquished the undisputed middleweight title, Whittaker was rewarded the belt and would go on to defend it against Romero in a rematch at UFC 225 in 2018.
As for his Whittaker’s opponent, Jared Cannonier, he’s also seen success since dropping down from the light heavyweight division to middleweight and is currently riding a three-fight winning streak in the division. Cannonier has had three finishes since joining the division, two Performance of the Night bonuses, with his wins coming over David Branch, Anderson Silva, and Jack Hermansson.
Newly-crowned champion Israel Adesanya labeled Cannonier as one of most dangerous threats in the division, more dangerous than his rival, Paulo Costa. As the new champion awaits his next opponent, he has plenty of options including Costa, Romero, or even former welterweight title challenger, Darren Till.
With the champion awaiting his next opponent, the matchup between Whittaker and Cannonier could determine who is next in line for a title shot after Adesanya gets his first fight as UFC middleweight champion.
UFC 248 takes place at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada on March 8, 2020 and will feature a women’s strawweight title fight between champion Zhang Weili against former champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk. There are rumors that Adesanya could defend the middleweight title on this card, but there has been no announcement as of yet.