Saturday night presents a key moment in the UFC career of Jared Cannonier.

Cannonier will headline the card from Las Vegas live on ESPN2 opposite Kelvin Gastelum.

For Cannonier, this is another chance to prove himself in the stacked middleweight division.

Nicknamed “The Killa Gorilla,” the 37-year-old from Texas trains out of Phoenix, Arizona with the MMA Lab team. That group has experienced quite a bit of success around the sport.

Cannonier has been with the UFC since 2014, making his Octagon debut in 2015 after winning his first seven fights. That one, though, didn’t go as planned, as Shawn Jordan knocked him out in the first round.

Back-to-back victories pushed Cannonier into a bout with the legendary Glover Teixeira. He would drop that by decision, and go just 1-2 over his next three.

But it should be noted that Cannonier faced both current light heavyweight champion Jan Blachowicz and former light heavyweight top contender Dominick Reyes in those bouts.

Sitting at 10-4, he made the move to middleweight and has never looked back.

Three consecutive finishes over David Branch, former UFC champion Anderson Silva and Jack Hermansson left Cannonier right there. However, his run was halted when Robert Whittaker claimed a decision last October.

Just think about those names for a moment. Whittaker, Silva, Blachowicz, Reyes, Teixeira. All of them have either claimed UFC gold or fought for it.

While the setback from Whittaker was a tough blow, a finish vs. Gastelum this weekend will keep Cannonier right on the short list of contenders to the UFC middleweight title.

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