UFC 276 Main Card Predictions: Adesanya vs Cannonier

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UFC 276 Main Card Predictions, Odds and Results

Pintsized Background

The T-Mobile Arena, Las Vegas plays host to one of the most stacked UFC cards this year. Israel Adesanya has a chance to lay down a striking clinic in the main event against a contender that only looks for blood. In the co-main event, the little guys have been snubbed. There is no chance that the Alexander Volkanovski and Max Holloway trilogy shouldn’t be the main fight of UFC 276.

Where/When is UFC 276 Main Card taking place:
July 2, 2022. T-Mobile Arena. Nevada, United States.

What time does UFC 276 Main Card start:
🇬🇧 UK: 11pm / 🇺🇸 US ET: 6pm

What channel is UFC Main Card 276 on:
🇬🇧 UK: BT Sports / 🇺🇸 US: ESPN+

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Talks of Donald Cerrone fighting on until 50 combined WEC/UFC fights… Dangerous

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UFC 276 Main Card Picks & Odds

UFC 276 Main Card Fights & OddsWinnerMethodRound
Israel Adesanya (-380)
Jared Cannonier (+310)
AdesanyaTKO2
Alexander Volkanovski (-195)
Max Holloway (+165)
VolkanovskiDecision/
Alex Pereira (-120)
Sean Strickland (+100)
StricklandSubmission3
Pedro Munhoz (+220)
Sean O’Malley (-260)
O’MalleyDecision/
Bryan Barberena (+105)
Robbie Lawler (-125)
LawlerDecision/
Odds are based on BestFightOdds.com. All odds of 28 June 2022..

UFC 276: Main Event

Israel Adesanya vs Jared Cannonier

Middleweight (185)

UFC Middleweight Championship

Israel Adesanya (22-1)

Expectations have somewhat killed Israel Adesanya’s hype train. A recent run of decisions has stemmed in part from his opponent’s heavier wrestling-centric gameplans, but also partly due to an increasingly conservative Adesanya approach. The volume of strikes has barely dropped, but Adesanya is notably less committed to power strikes following the Yoel Romero snoozefest and Jan Blachowicz loss.

I am wary to be overly critical of Izzy, though. The Middleweight champion is one of the most active champions and has so far appeared to only be joined by Robert Whittaker in an elite 185lb club. The key to Adesanya’s success is his extensive array of feints. The Kiwi baits opponents on the outside, masking his length by leaning forward, before snapping into counters with a speed achieved only with perfect balance on the feet.

It’s easy to write off the match-up based on Stylebender’s near 3″ reach advantage and a long history of winning off his jab. More important, however, is the 5″ height advantage that will force Cannonier to punch upwards. The Killa Gorilla is a spiteful counter-puncher, but the Alaskan will need to cover a lot of ground to find Izzy’s chin. As Cannonier can stand static, Adesanya has the opportunity to lay down a leg kicking clinic mixed in with stabbing push kicks.

Jared Cannonier (15-5)

Many analysts believe Jared Cannonier can create the fight that Paulo Costa was expected to deliver. The Brazilian was a deer caught in the headlights from the get-go, a mental wall that Cannonier is unlikely to face. If the power crystal enthusiasm is anything to go off, Cannonier’s frequencies/vibrations will be set to overdrive for what represents his first and last title shot.

Analysing Cannonier’s last outing against Derek Brunson isn’t ideal for a match-up with the champion. Cannonier explosively reacted to every twitch from Blonde Brunson, a worrying sign against the mental chess game that Izzy will play. In fairness to the Killa Gorilla, the energy-sapping backward lunges were to prevent Brunson’s takedowns – an offensive outlet that Adesanya is unlikely to explore.

Cannonier’s mental toughness is astounding, he dug his way out of deep holes against Derek Brunson (to a TKO victory) and Robert Whittaker (to a close loss). Worryingly, Cannonier often misses strikes that aren’t fired down the pipe as a result of his head-down forward pressure or high-guard defence. Brunson dropped Cannonier with a right hook as the latter ploughed forward in a straight line, while Whittaker manoeuvred Cannonier onto a head kick off the back of a simple 1-2.

Predicted Result: Adesanya TKO Round 2

Cannonier’s mental toughness is astounding, he dug his way out of deep holes against Derek Brunson (to a TKO victory) and Robert Whittaker (to a close loss). Worryingly, Cannonier often misses strikes that aren’t fired down the pipe as a result of his head-down forward pressure or high-guard defence. Brunson dropped Cannonier with a right hook as the latter ploughed forward in a straight line, while Whittaker manoeuvred Cannonier onto a head kick off the back of a simple 1-2. Adesanya is a far more wily tactician on the feet and is primed to use his height and reach advantage to set traps from distance.

That isn’t to write off Cannonier. The Killa Gorilla is one of the hardest-hitting Middleweights. Adesanya showed discomfort after being clipped by Yoel Romero early, forcing the fight to descend into a dull chess match. Although Cannonier lacks the wrestling chops to create doubt in Adesanya’s mind, he can certainly match the Kiwi in a leg-kicking affair. Unfortunately for the contender, Adesanya just seems built to handle this match-up with ease.

I can think of more thrilling trilogies than the next instalment of Adesanya/Vettori | UFC 276 Predictions
I can think of more thrilling trilogies than the next instalment of Adesanya/Vettori

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UFC 276: Co-Main Event

Alexander Volkanovski vs Max Holloway

Featherweight (145)

UFC Featherweight Championship

Alexander Volkanovski (24-1)

Some would question the futility of a trilogy fight in which the champion has emerged victorious twice. I, instead, would point out that Featherweight is a division stacked with riches but these two men stand clear above their peers. Volkanovski’s greatest gift is the mental fortitude to create a game plan and stick to it. An exceptional defensive grappler and scrambler, Volkanovski can often choose when and where the fight occurs.

As seen in the first fight, Volk’s chipping leg kicks disrupted Holloway’s jab – the foundational weapon that the Hawaiian uses to build combination. Add in the inside trips and brief exchanges in the clinch, and it explains just how Volkanovski’s relentless output was able to throw Holloway off rhythm. Volkanovski will have to factor in Holloway’s greater kicking output in the second affair. Catching the body kicks before leading with his sharp lead hook could be enough to punish. Alternatively, Volk could once again press an unbalanced Holloway to the cage and shave away control time.

Max Holloway (23-6)

A potential fight of the year candidate against Yair Rodriguez sets up highlight reel packages but there were worrying signs for a Holloway fan. Volume and conditioning remain the vital weapons behind the Hawaiian’s kit. It was expected that the Mexican would eventually wilt under sustained pressure, but to his credit, Yair kept a mean pace himself. Holloway adapted, latching on to several uncharacteristic clinches and pursuing takedowns, but it will have hurt the Blessed that he was bested on the feet for long stretches.

Winning the early rounds has to be the highest on Holloway’s priority list. In their second affair, once Volk knew he needed to claim the championship rounds, the Aussie was forced to take risks and throw extended combinations in the pocket. Holloway was then able to succeed in his preferred game, reactively slipping and returning with hard uppercuts. As a fighter that excels with a steady pace and settling into a rhythm, Holloway must force Volkanovski to feel as though he is chasing the fight.

Predicted Result: Volkanovski Decision

As seen in the first fight, Volk’s chipping leg kicks disrupted Holloway’s jab – the foundational weapon that the Hawaiian uses to build combination. Add in the inside trips and brief exchanges in the clinch, and it explains just how Volkanovski’s relentless output was able to throw Holloway off rhythm. Volkanovski will have to factor in Holloway’s greater kicking output in the second affair. Catching the body kicks before leading with his sharp lead hook could be enough to punish. Alternatively, Volk could once again press an unbalanced Holloway to the cage and shave away control time.

On the other hand, Holloway’s success in their second affair largely stemmed from Holloway capturing the early rounds. Once Volk knew he was chasing the fight in the championship rounds, the Aussie was forced to take risks and throw extended combinations in the pocket. This in turn played into Holloway’s natural game, reactively slipping and returning with hard uppercuts. As a fighter that excels with a steady pace and settling into a rhythm, Holloway must force Volkanovski to feel as though he is chasing the fight. Seeing Yair breaking Blessed’s pace, on the feet no less, is a red flag that leaves me siding fractionally with the champion.

The two elite of the Featherweight division, just keep these guys fighting thrice a year | UFC 276 Predictions
The two elite of the Featherweight division, just keep these guys fighting thrice a year

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UFC 276: Main Card

Sean Strickland vs Alex Pereira

Middleweight (185)

Sean Strickland (25-3)

Remember that brief period between October-November 2020 when we had to pretend that Sean Strickland was an all-action striker? Outspoken to a worrying degree, Strickland’s issues outside of the rings contrast his often mature performances in the octagon.

Jack Hermansson is one of the most dangerous grapplers at Middleweight, yet Strickland kept him at bay all night behind a consistent jab. It wasn’t pretty viewing, especially as Strickland had sold the bout as a blood bath, but it was exactly the performance that proved he had matured since the Elizeu Zaleski dos Santos loss. Strickland has more than enough ability to out-wrestle Alex Pereira, considering that Uriah Hall spent a round and a half trapped on his back.

Alex Pereira (5-1)

This is the perfect match-up for the long-time kickboxer. Defensively, Strickland lacks the speed to avoid danger for a full fifteen minutes against Pereira’s heavy strikes. Win this bout and you can bet the house that Dana fast-tracks Pereira to a title shot grudge bout against Israel Adesanya.

Let us not forget that Andreas Michailidis thoroughly dismantled Pereira on the mat for a full five minutes, however. There is no denying that Pereira is a one-trick pony, even if his TDD chops were slightly better refined against Bruno Silva. Pereira will have three chances at the start of each round to find the off-switch, otherwise, it’ll be an exhausting night.

Predicted Result: Strickland Submission Round 3

This is the perfect match-up for the long-time kickboxer. Defensively, Strickland lacks the speed to avoid danger for a full fifteen minutes against Pereira’s heavy strikes. Win this bout and you can bet the house that Dana fast-tracks Pereira to a title shot grudge bout against Israel Adesanya.

Still, Pereira has three chances at the start of each round to find the off-switch, otherwise, it’ll be an exhausting night. Uriah Hall is hardly a TDD savant, but Strickland managed to outwrestle the veteran with ease. If there’s anything that Strickland has shown since his return to the octagon, it is that he is a consummate game planner.

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Pedro Munhoz vs Sean O’Malley

Bantamweight (135)

Pedro Munhoz (19-7)

It’s a dire situation that Pedro Munhoz finds himself in. Once one of the top neutralising wrestling threats, with fearsome leg kicks and an elite chin to boot, Munhoz has hit a technical ceiling. His plodding footwork will be visibly contrasted by the sleek movement of O’Malley, but Munhoz’s youthful opponent owns notorious biscuit legs. Munhoz will eat a lot of early damage, but the Brazilian’s durability is damn near legendary at this point.

Sean O’Malley (15-1)

This is the perfect match-up to answer one of two questions. Does O’Malley carry elite power? To stop Munhoz on the feet is seemingly unfathomable, but the thirty-five-year-old Brazilian has swallowed a lot of punishment recently while O’Malley is deadly accurate. The second question is, can O’Malley keep a consistent threat at distance? Kris Moutinho found occasional success from hard-headed aggression; Munhoz is several leagues superior in laying traps and cage-cutting.

Predicted Result: O’Malley Decision

Against my better judgement, I’m backing O’Malley out-striking a very hittable, ageing Pedro Munhoz. Huge doubts have to be placed on O’Malley’s biscuit legs holding up fifteen minutes, a prime target for Munhoz’s powerful leg kicks. Still, it just feels as though O’Malley is meeting Munhoz at a perfect athletic crossroads. Sugar has already proven his ability to operate shrewdly on the outside against the much lesser pressure threat of Kris Moutinho.

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Robbie Lawler vs Bryan Barberena

Middleweight (170)

Robbie Lawler (29-15)

This could be the front-runner for the saddest fight of the night. Robbie has grown so punch-shy, that it took a wildly out-of-shape Nick Diaz return to break the three-digit strike mark. The defensive additions to Lawler’s game have been an Achilles heel, robbing Lawler of the explosive offence that marked his title run. Lawler’s bodywork was particularly slick against Diaz, countering off slips which will be vitally important against a similar mould of pressure fighter in Barberena.

Bryan Barberena (17-8)

Lawler may be on his last legs, yet this version of Bryan Barberena is sickening to watch. Countless wars and health scares outside of the octagon have slowed the once physical beast. Still, Barberena fights in the same manner with a total focus on offence. Matt Brown remains a monster in the clinch, but Barberena was consistently out-foxed on the inside too. If it weren’t for Brown gassing, Barberena would have dropped a decision to a weathered forty-one-year-old.

Predicted Result: Lawler Decision

In a match-up to find out who is the most washed, there isn’t much to separate the two. Lawler’s losing streak was snapped against an out-of-shape Nick Diaz, but at least it provided some sort of indication of this bout. Barberena will similarly focus on pushing out a high offensive volume, with Lawler’s increased emphasis on the body likely to slow Bam Bam. Robbie is still gun-shy in his twilight, yet Barberena has physically slowed after countless wars, this should be a heart-breaking affair.

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