Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) returns to the pay-per-view (PPV) market later TONIGHT (Sat., July 2, 2022) with a stacked UFC 276 event, featuring a Middleweight title fight between division kingpin, Israel Adesanya, taking on Jared Cannonier. In the co-main event, Alexander Volkanovski will defend his Featherweight title against Max Holloway in a highly-anticipated trilogy fight.
As champion, Adesanya has had his eye on Cannonier for a long time. Which is odd, really, because the titleholder is usually the one with the target on his back, but “The Last Stylebender” has always been very outspoken about how much he respects “Killa Gorilla” and how he’s wanted to test his skills against the former Heavyweight. Thankfully, Cannonier did his part to make the fight happen, winning his last two fights, going 5-1 over his last six to shoot up to the No. 2 spot on UFC’s official rankings list. Along the way, he picked up huge wins over Anderson Silva, Kelvin Gastelum and knocked out Derek Brunson in his previous fight to get the title shot. Adesanya, though, will obviously be the biggest test of his decade-long career.
Adesanya has ran roughshod through the 185-pound weight class, racking up an impressive resume in just four years with the promotion. Yes, “The Last Stylebender” has been fighting inside the Octagon for just 48 months, taking out the likes of Anderson Silva, Yoel Romero, Paulo Costa, Kelvin Gastelum and Robert Whittaker (twice). Undefeated as a Middleweight, Adesanya’s star keeps shining brighter after each win and a victory over Cannonier gives him wins over six of the Top 10-ranked fighters in the weight class. While all of his aforementioned opponents can crack, it’s safe to say they don’t pack the power that Cannonier has. Keep in mind, Cannonier was cracking heads as a Heavyweight early on in his career and has 10 (technical) knockouts wins to his credit. But, tagging Adesanya cleanly has been troublesome for many thanks to his elusive footwork and ability to create space and his use his reach well. It’s something he mastered as a kickboxer and transitioned perfectly into mixed martial arts (MMA).
Adesanya has the striking advantage here with Cannonier taking the edge in the power. When it comes to wrestling, neither man is a specialist in the area, though I don’t expect this fight to hit the canvas all that much. This fight will be played out on the feet and as great as both men are in the striking department, I don’t expect a finish. That means we can expect a pretty decent five-round war that will ultimately go Adesanya’s way after 25 hard-fought minutes.
Being one of the most stacked cards of the year, there isn’t much to complain about here. The PPV main card is loaded, while the undercard has a several intriguing match ups across several divisions, making it a very worthwhile card to spend your hard-earned cash on.
Original Card Vs. Actual Card:
Miesha Tate was all set to make her Flyweight debut against Lauren Murphy on this card before it was removed from the lineup a week out from fight night after Murphy tested positive for COVID-19. The bout was re-booked and will now take place at UFC Long Island on July 16, 2022.
Also, a fight between Jim Miller and Bobby Green was scrapped after Green bowed out of the bout for unknown reasons. Thankfully, Donald Cerrone was game as always to step in on short notice to accept the rematch. Cerrone knocked out Miller eight years ago, and since his fight against Joe Lauzon was supposed to happen a little more than two weeks ago, “Cowboy” was in fighting shape and available to take the 170-pound bout.
Casey O’Neill tore her ACL and was forced out of her scheduled fight against Jessica Eye. As a result, Maycee Barber was pegged as her replacement. Barber is in search of a three-fight win streak after she managed to turn it around following back-to-back losses in 2020. As for Eye, she is looking to end her three-fight losing streak.
No newcomers at this event!
How The ‘Prelims’ Look:
Headlining the undercard will be a Lightweight scrap between Brad Riddell and Jalin Turner. Riddell recently had his seven-fight win streak snapped by Rafael Fiziev, so he is hungry for a win after the tough loss to his former teammate. Turner, on the other hand, is in search of his fifth straight win after earning four straight stoppage victories.
Also, Welterweight sensation Ian Garry continues to build up his resume, aiming to take out Gabriel Green. Garry is undefeated (9-0), which includes two wins inside the Octagon. Garry is being touted as a potential next star for the promotion, so every win is crucial for his ascension up the ladder. Green is 2-1 inside the eight-walled cage and a big win over Garry will give him a bigger share of the spotlight.
Uriah Hall and Andre Muniz will finally scrap after having the fight scrapped on a few occasions. Hall saw his win streak — which was up to four — come to an end after he ran into Sean Strickland, sending him to the back of the line once again. As for Muniz, the man is firing on all cylinders at the moment, having won seven straight fights, including his first four under the UFC banner. While Hall makes his bread on the feet, Muniz prefers to mix it up on the ground, so this will come down to whoever can implement their gameplan first.
In women’s Bantamweight action, Jessica Rose-Clark will battle Julija Stoliarenko, who is trying to stop the bleeding of her horrid three-fight losing streak. And as we touched on earlier, Barber eyes her third straight win when she battles former title contender, Jessica Eye, while Cerrone attempts to snap his losing skid against Miller. Cerrone needs a win in a bad way here if he wants to complete his goal of competing a whopping 50 times for UFC/Zuffa.
Who Needs A Win Badly:
Once a women’s Flyweight title contender, Eye has been unable to get back into contention following a brutal knockout loss at the hands of division queenpin, Valentina Shevchenko. While she did bounce back with a win after the head kick knockout loss (see it again here), she’s gone on to drop three in a row, putting her in danger of her first-ever, four-fight losing streak and a potential one-way ticket out of the promotion. She is facing off against a rejuvenated Barber, who now has some great momentum after winning her last two fights.
Interest Level: 9.5/10
Holloway will finally get his chance to get revenge on the only the second man (Dustin Poirier is the other) to ever beat him twice, taking on Featherweight champion, Alexander Volkanovski. “The Great” initially defeated “Blessed” at UFC 245 in 2019, and then took home a split-decision six months later in the rematch. Now, Holloway will have one final shot to pick up a win over the 145-pound champion, or potentially face no other choice but to possibly move up to Lightweight for good in hopes of earning a title fight there. That’s because his chances of getting back to the big dance at 145 pounds will be very slim as long as Volkanovski is champion. For “The Great,” taking out Holloway puts the Hawaiian in his rear-view mirror for good.
While Adesanya and Cannonier handle business in the main event title fight, Sean Strickland and Alex Pereira will collide in another pivotal bout to see who gets to face the winner. Strickland has been putting in work inside the Octagon for more than eight years now, but it hasn’t been until recently that he’s really been shining. And while a lot of the attention he gets has a lot to do with the outlandish things he says in interviews and on social media, his work inside the cage speaks for itself. He has won six straight fights to earn him the No. 4 spot in the rankings. Pereira, meanwhile, isn’t ranked in the Top 15, but has the chance to catapult himself all the way into the Top 5 with a win. He is perfect (2-0) inside the Octagon, but one more win could get him to the big dance even faster that Jiri Prochazka earned his championship fight.
In further action, Sean O’Malley will look to continue his rise up the Bantamweight ranks when he takes on one of his stiffest tests to date in Pedro Munhoz. The rainbow-haired contender has risen to the occasion against all but one (Marlon Vera) of his opponents thus far, but Munhoz will be one of the most seasoned fighters he has ever faced. And defeating him will silence some of the naysayers. Munhoz, though, is out for a statement win of his own after losing his last two fights to former champions Dominick Cruz and Jose Aldo. Despite his recent woes, Munhoz is still a tough draw for anyone. If he can get back on track with a win over “Suga,” it would be a great way to get some momentum going.
Former UFC Welterweight champion, Robbie Lawler, will look for his second straight win when he battles Bryan Barberena in what is a sure-fire barn burner. Both men have a knack for putting on entertaining battles and their preference to stand up and bang have made them fan favorites. There is no telling how much longer Lawler plans on competing, but a win here assures hardcore fight fans that “Ruthless” will still around a bit longer. As for Barberena, he has won two straight and a third straight victory would give him the longest win streak of his UFC career. While a victory over a legend like Lawler may not hold as much weight now, it’s still a good name to have on the resume.
Enjoy the fights!
UFC 276 PPV Main Event on ESPN+:
185 lbs.: UFC Middleweight champion Israel Adesanya vs. Jared Cannonier
UFC 276 PPV Co-Main Event on ESPN+:
145 lbs.: UFC Featherweight champion Alexander Volkanovski vs. Max Holloway
UFC 276 PPV Main Card on ESPN+ (10 p.m. ET):
185 lbs.: Sean Strickland vs. Alex Pereira
125 lbs.: Lauren Murphy vs. Miesha Tate— SCRATCHED (details here)
135 lbs.: Pedro Munhoz vs. Sean O’Malley
170 lbs.: Robbie Lawler vs. Bryan Barberena
UFC 276 Prelims Card on ABC/ESPN/ESPN+ (8 p.m. ET):
155 lbs.: Brad Riddell vs. Jalin Turner
170 lbs: Ian Garry vs. Gabe Green
170 lbs.: Donald Cerrone vs. Jim Miller
UFC 276 Early Prelims Card on ESPN+ (6 p.m. ET):
125 lbs.: Jessica Eye vs. Maycee Barber
185 lbs.: Uriah Hall vs. Andre Muniz
185 lbs.: Brad Tavares vs. Dricus du Plessis
135 lbs.: Jessica Rose-Clark vs. Julija Stoliarenko
*Fight card, bout order and number of fights remain subject to change due to COVID-19.*
Remember that MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC 276 fight card right here, starting with the early ESPN+ “Prelims” matches online, which are scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. ET, then the remaining undercard balance on ABC/ESPN+ at 8 p.m. ET, before the PPV main card start time at 10 p.m. ET on ESPN+ PPV.
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