Jared Cannonier, the former FAA worker who left Alaska for an MMA career, defeated one of the sport’s stars Saturday night at UFC 237 in Rio de Janeiro.
Cannonier stopped Brazilian legend Anderson Silva with a first-round TKO. The fight ended after Cannonier, 35, injured Silva’s right knee with an inside leg kick.
The fight was held at Jeunesse Arena, a venue used at the 2016 Summer Olympics. It was filled with fans who came to cheer Silva, 44, a former UFC middleweight champion whose reign lasted a UFC-record 2,457 days.
The crowd booed Cannonier (12-4 MMA) long and loud after the fight, one of two main events for the night. He waited for several seconds before doing his post-race fight interview inside the octagon, but the boos didn’t subside.
“Thank you to Anderson Silva," Cannonier said. "I really appreciate the opportunity to step in here. He didn’t have to fight me. He could have fought anyone he wanted to but he chose to step inside and fight me. He could have fought anybody he wanted to. So I want to show my appreciation and my respect for him.
“The crowd is a different story. They don’t respect me and I don’t have respect for them, and that’s just it."
Silva told fans he was sorry to disappoint them.
"In training, my knee was already really bad,” he said. “I took a kick to it and my knee couldn’t hold up. I’m really sorry.”
The injury could mark the end of Silva’s career; in 2013 he broke his leg and lost his UFC title in a bout against Chris Weidman. He is 34-10 for his career, and has only won once since breaking his leg in 2013.
Cannonier, who entered the fight as the UFC’s 10th-ranked middleweight, lived in Alaska from 2009 to 2017 and got his start with the Alaska Fighting Championship. He came to Alaska with the military and stayed to work for the FAA before moving to Arizona to pursue fighting full time.