Cannonier becomes most recent Alaskan to sign with UFC

December 30, 2014

Jared Cannonier mixed martial arts

Jared Cannonier

There’s a pipeline coming out of Alaska, and it’s flowing straight to the UFC.

Anchorage’s Jared Cannonier became the most recent Alaska fighter to sign a contract with the biggest and baddest mixed martial arts league in the world.

The 30-year-old will carry his 7-0 pro record into his UFC debut Saturday in Las Vegas against former LSU football player Shawn Jordan. The fight is part of the UFC 182 card, which has a main event between Jon Jones and Daniel Cormier.

“Me and my family have been through a lot and with their support I have made it this far,” Cannonier told me. “It’s a big opportunity for me and my family. I’m just gonna go full steam ahead and try to make the most of it.”

Cannonier trains out of Gracie Barra Alaska camp, a premier jiu-jitsu and MMA academy in Anchorage. He moved to Alaska in 2009 after he served in the military to get a job with the Federal Aviation Administration.

He’s a virtual unknown in the national ranks, having fought only in Alaska. But he hopes to make his name against a formidable opponent in UFC vet Jordan, who has a 16-6 record.

It’s a big night, but he’s trying to maintain an even balance.

“Anything this big, this prestigious, there are people that will experience mild anxiety, but that comes and goes and it won’t affect how I preform Saturday night,” Cannonier said. “I don’t put too much thought into it.”

Both men are basically the same size. Cannonier stands 5-foot-10 and weighs 239 pounds – lists him at 6-3, 244.

“I don’t know how that information got out there,” he said with a laugh.

Cannonier turned pro in 2011 when he fought five times, including twice as an amateur. He missed the entire 2012 season with an injury before coming back in 2013. His career has been on the fast track ever since.

“The time off I guess it put things into perspective,” he said. “I already had a job, a career; it wasn’t as rewarding as fighting, I really like doing it. If I could make a good living doing it, that’s what I’d like to do.”

Cannonier joins a growing list of Alaska fights to get promoted to the UFC that also includes the likes of Doug Evans, Cody McKenzie, Lauren Murphy and Andy Enz.

Nicknamed ‘Killa,’ Cannonier grew up in Dallas with two older brothers. He said he comes from an athletic family and that one of cousins played in the NFL. Growing up, there were plenty of willing opponents in tests of strength.

“Of course being the youngest and the smallest, I got the worst of it,” he said.

That tough love made Cannonier who he is today – a UFC fighter.