One had his first UFC fight in 2011. The other has never fought professionally outside of Alaska.
One will tip the scales in Las Vegas at 135 pounds, give or take a few ounces. The other weighed 300-plus pounds a few years back.
One fought less than two months ago, knocking out a Chinese fighter in Australia in front of a global audience. The other hasn’t fought since last January, when he edged out a 40-year-old via five-round split decision.
Saying Marcus Brimage and Jared Cannonier have taken different paths to the preliminary card at Saturday’s UFC 182 event would be a bit of an understatement. But the men have at least two things in common: The chance to shine as part of one of UFC’s most-hyped cards in recent memory, and time spent in uniform: Brimage with about a decade in the Air National Guard, and Cannonier with a stint in the Army.
Here’s a bit more about each fighter’s weekend plans and their path to a spot in the prelims, which will air Saturday at 8 p.m. Eastern on Fox Sports 1 before the pay-per-view card headlined by Jon Jones and Daniel Cormier:
Marcus ‘The Bama Beast’ Brimage
Record: 7-3 (4-2 UFC)
Opponent: Cody Garbrandt (5-0, making UFC debut)
Scouting report: A win would give Brimage a 2-1 record in the bantamweight class (135-pound limit). He dropped down from 145 pounds after Conor McGregor stopped him in about a minute in their April 2013 showdown. The former airman, 29, was on the shelf for about a year with a ruptured Achilles tendon before dropping his bantamweight debut to Russell Doane via split decision. He turned things around in November with a fairly decisive first-round knockout of China’s Jumabieke Tuerxun. Standing up with Garbrandt, an accomplished amateur boxer who has earned all five of his wins by knockout, could be a challenge. Get more from this Florida Sun-Sentinel fight breakdown.
Workout advice: How do you drop a weight class? Brimage suggests a strict regimen of line dancing while wearing multiple layers:
Is that the weirdest Marcus Brimage video available online?: Hardly.
Jared ‘The Killa Gorilla’ Cannonier
The what?: “I like gorillas,” Cannonier told the UFC when asked about the nickname’s origin.
Record: 7-0, all with Alaska-based promotions. Saturday marks the heavyweight’s UFC debut.
Opponent: Shawn Jordan (16-6, 4-3 UFC). Jordan’s notable opponents include Cheick Kongo, Matt Mitrione and Gabriel Gonzaga (all losses).
Scouting report: It’s a major leap in competition level for Cannonier, who told the Alaska Dispatch News that his exposure to Army combatives programs helped get him hooked on mixed martial arts, and that fighting helped him shave off his post-service weight gain. His biggest win so far came in January against Tony “Kryptonite” Lopez, whose extensive pro career (34-17) includes stops in King of the Cage and Bellator.
Financial advice: Cannonier crowdsourced his training, ADN reported, raising more than $6,000 to travel from Alaska to an Arizona fight camp and take time off from his job with the Federal Aviation Administration.
Keeping it simple: UFC asked Cannonier about fighting Jordan, a former LSU fullback. His reply: “Let’s do it!”