Robert Whittaker-Jared Cannonier being targeted for UFC 254

The UFC is finalizing a middleweight contest between former champion Robert Whittaker and Jared Cannonier for its UFC 254 pay-per-view event, UFC president Dana White told ESPN on Friday.

UFC 254 is scheduled to take place on Oct. 24 at a location to be determined.

Whittaker (21-5) is fresh off a unanimous decision win against Darren Till in the main event of UFC Fight Night last weekend on Yas Island in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. The 29-year-old was scheduled to face Cannonier once already, at UFC 248 in March, but was forced to withdraw because of personal reasons.

Fighting out of Australia, Whittaker surrendered the middleweight championship to Israel Adesanya in October 2019. It is his only loss in his past 11 appearances.

Cannonier (13-4) has not fought since September. The UFC initially tried to book him another opponent in March after Whittaker withdrew, but Cannonier was ultimately forced to delay his return to the Octagon because of a chest injury.

A former heavyweight, Cannonier is 3-0 since settling into the middleweight division in 2018. He has recorded wins against David Branch, Anderson Silva and Jack Hermansson.

A lightweight unification bout between Khabib Nurmagomedov and Justin Gaethje is slated to headline UFC 254.