It was an astonishing performance from Cannonier, who had to endure a tough first round to then comeback and deliver an absolutely brutal knockout with a series of elbow strikes on the ground to finish Brunson in the second. As the final strike landed, the referee stepped into stop the contest while Brunson’s corner simultaneously threw in the towel to ensure he didn’t absorb any more damage.
The end came at 4:29 in the second round.
“Hey Dana, I want that shot next,” Cannonier shouted after getting UFC president Dana White’s attention cage side. “I get the shot next. It’s me. Nobody else! Me!”
Before he earned the knockout, Cannonier first had to fend off a valiant effort from Brunson as he was seeking his own opportunity to compete for a UFC title.
Brunson wasted no time rushing forward at the start of the fight, grabbing a leg and bringing Cannonier down to the canvas but it was short lived success as “The Killa Gorilla” was able to scramble back to his feet. While he continued searching for the takedown, Brunson was still managing to throw out punches that kept Cannonier off balance.
With less than two minutes remaining in the opening round, Brunson pushed ahead again and this time he put Cannonier on the canvas before looking to advance his position. Once again, Cannonier got back to his feet but then he ate a hard right hand that sent him crashing to the ground as Brunson looked for a rear-naked choke as time ran out.
As soon as the fighters came out to start the second round, Brunson immediately jumped on a leg to look for another takedown but his movement was more deliberate, which allowed Cannonier to land a stinging punch in return. With Brunson looking labored, Cannonier was able to unleash his combinations with more force behind them because he wasn’t nearly as fearful about the takedown.
With Brunson desperate to close the distance, Cannonier made him pay with a devastating elbow on the inside following another punch that put the former Strikeforce middleweight on his last legs. Cannonier then stuffed another takedown except this time he landed on top, which is where he came crashing down with a pair of elbows that separated Brunson from consciousness.
“I turned Blonde Brunson into Blood Brunson like I said I was going to do,” Cannonier said.
It was exactly the kind of performance that Cannonier needed to separate himself from every other contender at middleweight as he now seeks his first opportunity to fight for a UFC title.