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Five reasons you can’t miss UFC 276: Adesanya vs Cannonier on BT Sport
Israel Adesanya vs Jared Cannonier and Alexander Volkanovski vs Max Holloway 3 headline a stunning night of fights.
Middleweight champion Israel Adesanya returns to action to make the fifth defence of his 185lb title against the power-striking Jared Cannonier in a scintillating main event from the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.
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Here’s five reasons why you can’t miss UFC 276: Adesanya vs Cannonier this weekend.
Saturday night sees Israel Adesanya make his second UFC appearance of the year after rematching Robert Whittaker at UFC 271 in February.
The Nigerian-born New Zealander notched up another successful defence of the 185lb strap that night, taking his tally to four to become the second-longest reigning middleweight champion in the promotion’s history behind the legendary Anderson Silva.
And while Adesanya, 22-1, has a long way to go to catch up to Silva’s record of 10 defences, he aims to take another step in the right direction when he faces dangerous challenger Jared Cannonier, 15-5, this weekend.
I’m going to f*** him up
- Israel Adesanya
It’s a challenge the 32-year-old is relishing after coming into the bout off the back of two straight rematches against foes he knows all too well by now in the shape of Whittaker and Marvin Vettori.
“I’m excited to be fighting someone that I’ve not fought before,” he told The Sun.
“I’m excited that it’s a fresh fight; new blood, new energy and I’m ready to go.”
Adesanya remains unbeaten over the course of his middleweight MMA career, with the only blip on his professional ledger coming against Jan Blachowicz for the 205lb title last March.
And while the striking sensation has largely dominated at 185lb since joining the promotion in February 2018, “Stylebender’s” last two performances have perhaps not lit up the imagination in the same way he did at the beginning of his middleweight reign.
But fight fans could be in for a treat with Adesanya promising something spectacular when he steps into the Octagon, telling ESPN: “Everyone’s [saying] ‘what’s the game plan? How are you going to beat Jared?’”
“I’m like look, I’m going to f*** him up.
“That’s the main thing. I’m going to f*** him up and I’m saying that because I want that. I want people to be like ‘let’s see, let’s see.’ Because I know what I’m doing.”
I’m not trying to go to the scorecards
- Jared Cannonier
But the man in the opposite corner will not go down easily having found his way to the middleweight title picture after the most unlikely journey.
Starting his UFC career as a heavyweight, Jared Cannonier went 1-1 with the big boys before dropping to 205lb, mixing it as a light-heayvweight for another couple of years.
The Arizona native put up a respectable 2-3 record at 205lb before undergoing a further body transformation to join the middleweight ranks in November 2018, sparking a magnificent run that saw him stop the likes of David Branch, Anderson Silva and Jack Hermansson to announce himself as a genuine threat at 185lb.
A bonus-winning knockout of the tough veteran Derek Brunson last time out only served as a further reminder of Cannonier’s fight-ending capabilities, impressing UFC matchmakers enough to grant the 38-year-old a maiden shot at UFC gold.
Now on the cusp of achieving the dream of a lifetime, Cannonier has promised to throw the kitchen sink at Adesanya in search of an 11th career knockout that would secure the UFC world title.
“I see him definitely fighting to his reputation,” he told Submission Radio.
“So, when I fight, I’m gonna fight to the ability that he’s gonna bring out of me. It’s gonna be a completely different fight. I’m not trying to go to a decision. I’m not trying to go to the scorecards, I ain’t trying to have five-round wars with him. He’s too f****** good.”
Will the “Killa Gorilla” bring out the beast in Adesanya? Or can Cannonier cap his middleweight renaissance with a stunning title victory?
It all ends here!
Alexander Volkanovski and Max Holloway must be sick of the sight of one another – but we’re certainly not!
The two featherweight rivals share co-main billing at the T-Mobile Arena on Saturday night, in a trilogy showdown that both men hope will bring some closure to their long-running battle at the summit of the 145lb division.
Aussie champion Volkanovski saw his hand raised in the first pair of fights to differing degrees of controversy over the scoring following competitive, breathless contests at UFC 245 and UFC 251.
But the 33-year-old former Rugby League player is out to settle the score once and for all on Saturday night with an emphatic victory to silence the dissenters who question his championship reign.
Volk’s masterful victory against The Korean Zombie in April was arguably the best of his career yet, as he picked apart the two-time title challenger before securing a long-overdue fourth-round finish.
We'll be lucky if we get past three rounds in this one
- Max Holloway
Pocketing a second successive fight bonus, on his third straight title defence, Volkanovski’s record improved to 24-1 and a perfect 9-0 at featherweight in the UFC.
Now starting to be mentioned in the conversation among the greatest 145lb-ers of all time thanks to his blistering win streak, Volkanovski has the chance to make that title his own with a stoppage win against a fellow pound-for-pound great.
Holloway has had to battle back from the frustration of losing those two razor-thin decisions against Alexander “The Great” – but in doing so has proven once again that he and his Australian rival are the most talented fighters in the division by a clear distance.
Performance bonus wins against Calvin Kattar and Yair Rodriguez sent a timely reminder across the MMA landscape that the “Blessed Express” remains very much on track for contention – and Holloway is confident he’ll avenge his pair of losses against the champion this weekend.
“We’re here for a reason,” Holloway told MMA Fighting’s Ariel Helwani.
“If it was so guaranteed already, we wouldn’t have been here. So I can’t wait. I can’t wait to go show. A lot of history on the line, a lot of legacy on the line, 0-0 Max is going in there looking for a finish. So I can’t wait.
“I’ll fight this fight just like how I fought every other fight — like it’s my first and it might be my last. So I’ve been in there 10 rounds with the guy. I feel good, I feel confident, and I’ve been saying we’ll be lucky if we get past three in this one.”
Sweet redemption for Sugar?
Love him or loathe him, you can never miss the Sugar show!
One of the UFC’s most polarising characters returns this weekend, as Sean O’Malley makes his first appearance of the year in what will be his toughest test since facing Marlon Vera at UFC 252.
He takes on game veteran Pedro Munhoz in a bantamweight barnburner looking to pick up a big-name victory that would surely see the Montana man crack the top 10 for the first time.
O’Malley has certainly talked the talk since he burst onto the scene through Dana White’s Contender Series, cultivating a sizeable fan base through his social media and podcast channels.
But the charismatic star has largely walked the walk too, picking up six bonuses in seven UFC wins while producing stunning viral knockouts like his one-punch wipe-out of Eddie Wineland.
It’s not been all plain sailing for the highly-touted prospect though; he came up short against Venezuelan contender Vera back in August 2020, in a fight that led to some questioning whether he was truly capable of competing at the top of the 135lb division.
A win against Munhoz would answer those doubts emphatically; the Brazilian has been a fixture of the bantamweight rankings for a long while and has shared the Octagon with a killer’s row of contenders.
Don’t let his record fool you either – despite just one win in his last five fights, Munhoz has the ability to beat anyone on his day and those who have fought him admit they would not be in a hurry to do so again any time soon.
The 35-year-old has also never been stopped, setting up a fascinating clash between one of the most talented finishers and one of the toughest men in the bantamweight division.
Who will triumph? Make sure you don’t miss it on the main card to find out.
Garry’s mission for gold
Former Cage Warriors king Ian Garry makes his third Octagon appearance looking to extend his perfect winning ledger to double figures on his 10th professional MMA contest.
The 24-year-old Irishman is hotly tipped as a welterweight champion in waiting and after following up his debut KO victory over Jordan Williams with a hard-fought victory over Darian Weeks last time out, he’s doing exactly what he needs to on his campaign to reach the 170lb summit.
I'll make a show of him very, very fast
- Ian Garry
Training under the tutelage of revered MMA brain Henri Hooft at Sanford MMA, Garry counts the likes of Michael Chandler, Gilbert Burns and fellow rising star Shavkat Rakhmonov among his team-mates, immersing himself in one of the finest learning environments anywhere in the sport.
Garry is clearly looking to be active too, heading into his second contest inside three months after victory against Weeks at UFC 273; it’s also clear he has big backing from the UFC with all three of his appearances so far taking place on pay-per-view cards across the US.
Blessed with the charisma and confidence of his sporting hero Conor McGregor, Garry sent a stark warning to upcoming opponent Gabe Green last month, stating: “I think he’s tough; I think he’s durable - I think he’s a step up from my last two opponents but that’s not enough.
“I’m Ian Garry, and I’ll make a show of him very, very fast.”
One for the history books
The last two times we’ve written about Donald Cerrone, his fight has been pulled from the card at the 11th hour so we’ll keep this one short and sweet so as not to risk cursing “Cowboy” for the third time in a row!
However, after news that the 39-year-old has stepped in for the unavailable Bobby Green to face Jim Miller in a rematch almost eight years after their first meeting, both Cerrone and Miller have the chance to make history against one another this coming weekend.
The two future Hall of Famers are currently tied for the most UFC wins of all time with 23 apiece, meaning the victor on Saturday night will move clear of the other to hold the record alone for the most wins in the promotion’s history.