When Israel Adesanya defeated Robert Whittaker to win the UFC Middleweight Championship in October of 2019, it seemed to usher in an aura of invincibility around the former kickboxer known as The Last Stylebender. For more than a year, Adesanya seemed capable of doing anything he wanted; eventually he became bored with dominating the middleweight division.
He made the ill-fated mistake of going up in weight to challenge Jan Blachowicz for the Light Heavyweight title in March of 2021. After suffering a humbling defeat, Adesanya has returned to his proper weight class and has regained his form. Now, with the momentum of a two-fight win streak behind him, Adesanya places his belt on the line against number one contender Jared Cannonier at UFC 276. There’s a lot to unpack here; without further ado, let’s get into it!
Adesanya vs. Cannonier
Israel Adesanya is a former professional kickboxer, and a choreographed dancer, who made the decision to dedicate himself to mixed martial arts. The discipline that it takes to participate in kickboxing, combined with the agility it takes to become an elite dancer, are on display every time he enters the octagon. He has been so dominant in the middleweight division that he has faced two of his biggest rivals, Robert Whittaker and Marvin Vettori, twice and emerged victorious in every instance. Although he has never shied away from a challenge, his next bout against Jared Cannonier may be the biggest test of his career.
Jared Cannonier has won five out of his last six fights. At 38-years-old, he appears to be in the best shape of his life. When his professional career began, back in 2011, Cannonier was listed as a heavyweight. Years later, he transitioned to the light heavyweight division; now he has settled in at middleweight. He is one of the most sculpted 185 pounders you will ever see. His elite conditioning, combined with his experience that goes back more than a decade, makes him a real threat to dethrone Adesanya at UFC 276.Embed from Getty Images
Volkanovski vs. Holloway
Featherweight champion, Alexander Volkanovski, has only suffered one defeat in his entire career. That lone blemish on his record occurred in May of 2013, nearly a decade ago. Since that time, he has reeled off an impressive 21 consecutive victories, eleven of which have come within the UFC. His upcoming match against highly respected contender, Max Holloway, will be the third time the two of them have squared off inside the octagon. During their first match, Volkanovski dethroned Holloway, who was the reigning champion going into the bout. Their second fight was Volkanovski’s first title defense.Embed from Getty Images
Max Holloway has dreamed of a trilogy fight with Alexander Volkanovski ever since losing their rematch back in July of 2020. Like Volkanovski, Holloway knows a thing or two about going on impressive winning streaks. Between January of 2014 and December of 2018, he amassed thirteen consecutive victories, looking unstoppable along the way. Now, his career has come full circle. He is no longer the hunted; he is doing the hunting, trying to knock off the current champion and avenge a loss that stripped him of his title. When these two gladiators climb into the octagon, they will give it everything they’ve got; this is as intense a rivalry as any within the organization. You won’t want to miss it!Embed from Getty Images
Strickland vs. Pereira
Middleweight combatants Sean Strickland and Alex Pereira were originally slated to face one another at UFC 277 at the end of the month. However, each man’s camp communicated to the organization’s brass that they could be ready early, so the fight was moved up to UFC 276. Strickland enters the bout having won six fights in a row. Pereira only has six career fights under his belt, the last two as a member of the UFC’s roster. Although Strickland is three years younger than Pereira, he has been a professional fighter seven years longer. While both men are talented; this will be a case of experience versus relative inexperience. May the best man win!
Munhoz vs. O’Malley
After becoming the RFA bantamweight champion, and staging one successful title defense, Pedro Munhoz vacated his belt and joined the UFC’s roster in February of 2014. Since joining the world’s most renowned mixed martial arts organization, he has failed to become an elite contender. Instead his career has had ebbs and flows. Currently, he is own a downward trend, having lost four out of his last five fights. A win against the highly touted Sean O’Malley would be a huge step in the right direction and help him get career back on track.
Sean O’Malley resides in Metropolitan Phoenix and is a very outspoken supporter of the Phoenix Suns. Earlier this week, he received some very good news when it was announced that All-Star guard Devin Booker has decided to sign a contract extension to stay with the team. O’Malley’s outside interests aside, he is as dedicated a fighter as there is in the sport. He is an elite striker, whose style is reminiscent of the Diaz brothers when they were in their prime. 2021 was a breakout year for him; he won all three of his fights and became a fan favorite along the way. A great performance on the main card of a major pay-per-view event is just what he needs to become a superstar and a household name.
Rising Women’s Flyweight star, Lauren Murphy, was supposed to fight MMA legend Miesha Tate as part of the main card at UFC 276. However, it was revealed this week that the fight has been postponed due to a positive COVID test by Murphy. There’s still no official word on which of the undercard bouts will be moved up to the main card but fans should not worry. The organization has a roster full of hungry young fighters who would give anything in the world to participate on the main card of a pay-per-view event. Whichever fight is chosen, you can bet the fighters selected will give the fans their money’s worth!
How to Watch
UFC 276 will take place from the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. Fans in the United Kingdom can view the fight on pay-per-view via BT Sport; the event is available through ESPN Plus pay-per-view in the United States. As always, we’ll have all the latest updates about the outcomes of the fights, as well as in depth analysis available right here at World in Sport!