<
>

Robert Whittaker to face Jared Cannonier at UFC 248 in March

A highly significant middleweight bout has been booked for the first quarter of 2020.

Former champion Robert Whittaker will meet contender Jared Cannonier at UFC 248 on March 8 in Las Vegas, the promotion announced Friday.

In his most recent fight, Whittaker lost the title to Israel Adesanya. ESPN has him ranked No. 2 among middleweights in the world, while Cannonier is at No. 5.

Whittaker (20-5) was on a nine-fight winning streak before Adesanya knocked him out in the second round of their title fight at UFC 243 on Oct. 6. Whittaker, a New Zealand native who lives and trains in Australia, held a version of the middleweight title since he won the interim belt July 8, 2017. He was later promoted to undisputed champion. Whittaker, 29, owns wins over the likes of Yoel Romero (two), Ronaldo Souza and Derek Brunson.

Cannonier (13-4) has won three in a row, most recently a second-round TKO of Jack Hermansson at UFC Copenhagen in September. The Arizona resident and MMA Lab product is undefeated since dropping to middleweight. He fought previously at heavyweight and light heavyweight in the UFC. Cannonier, 35, has finished all but one of his six UFC victories.

UFC 248 does not yet have an announced main event. The co-main event will be a women's strawweight title fight pitting champion Zhang Weili and former champ Joanna Jedrzejczyk.