Jared Cannonier says UFC initially offered Paulo Costa in Rio, Nassourdine Imavov not what he wanted

Jared Cannonier would have loved to fight Paulo Costa, but the fight offer came too soon.

Cannonier (17-6 MMA, 10-6 UFC) tore his MCL which forced him to withdraw from his scheduled bout against Roman Dolidze this past December at UFC on ESPN 52.

His next fight offer came against Costa (14-3 MMA, 6-3 UFC) in this past Saturday’s UFC 301 event in Rio, but that would have been too quick of a turnaround for Cannonier.

“Initially, they offered me a fight with Paulo Costa at UFC 301,” Cannonier told Middle Easy. “I wasn’t going to be cleared until like the end of March. That would have just been like a one-month camp to get ready to get back to competition.

“I didn’t want to jump right back into competition without having been training everything I need to be training leading up to getting a fight scheduled. I wasn’t really grappling as much. Of course, I wasn’t cleared to compete, so I didn’t have full utilization of my recovered knee.”

Cannonier then got the call to face rising contender Nassourdine Imavov (13-4 MMA, 5-2 UFC) in the UFC Fight Night on June 8 headliner at the KFC Yum! Center in Louisville. “The Killa Gorilla” accepted, but admits he hoped for a higher-ranked opponent.

“They called me three or four weeks later with the Imavov fight, and it wasn’t what I wanted,” Cannonier said. “Naturally, I want the contenders fight. I want the highest ranking, the best matchup. I was hoping to get Costa later, maybe in June, but they gave that fight to (Strickland).

“That ship sailed. All they had left was Imavov. I needed to get my toes wet again, and he’s a good dust-up to knock the dust off, if you will. … I wanted the top, anybody ahead of me: Strickland, (Israel) Adesanya, (Robert) Whittaker.”

Story originally appeared on MMA Junkie