Oh what a card, what a lovely card!
Pardon me for paraphrasing Nicholas Hoult’s War Boy Nux from the film Mad Max: Fury Road to kick things off here, but the lineup for this weekend’s UFC 276 pay-per-view is absolutely stacked and it promises to be a furious night of action inside the Octagon on Saturday night.
This is one of those cards that doesn’t need any real setup here — just look at the fights listed below and start getting excited because UFC 276 is going to be fireworks from start to finish.
Israel Adesanya vs. Jared Cannonier
It’s been business as usual for Adesanya since returning to middleweight following his decision loss to Jan Blachowicz in their light heavyweight title clash last March at UFC 259. He posted a unanimous decision win over Marvin Vettori last June, and started this year with a similar result over Robert Whittaker, moving to 22-1 in the process.
Main Event Preview | UFC 276: Adesanya vs Cannonier
Main Event Preview | UFC 276: Adesanya vs Cannonier
Cannonier punched his ticket to this title opportunity with a second-round stoppage win over Derek Brunson in February at UFC 271. The former heavyweight is 5-1 since eventually landing in the 185-pound weight class, and he brings a power/speed combination that Adesanya has yet to have to deal with inside the Octagon.
This is a tremendously compelling matchup between a technical, yet flashy, champion and a brawny, no-nonsense challenger that should serve as a thrilling climax to an incredible night of action in the cage. While Adesanya is rightfully and understandably the favorite heading into this fight, it feels like it could be closer than the betting line suggests.
Alexander Volkanovski vs. Max Holloway
For the third time, Alexander Volkanovski and Max Holloway square off with the featherweight title hanging in the balance — Volkanovski eager to remain champion and put this rivalry to bed once and for all, and Holloway driven to get a victory and reclaim the belt he previously held.
Volkanovski is one of the most complete fighters in the sport, with his deep and diverse skill set matching his otherworldly intangibles inside the Octagon. There is no situation, no circumstance where the Australian titleholder is uncomfortable, and he’s used his two successful title defenses since his last date with Holloway to further assert his dominance.
At UFC 273 in April, Volkanovski pushed his record to 11-0 within the promotion with a lopsided fourth-round stoppage win over Chan Sung Jung, extending his winning streak to 21 overall.
All Holloway has done since dropping a pair of razor-thin decisions to Volkanovski in their back-to-back meetings at UFC 245 and UFC 251 is deliver a pair of virtuoso performances against top contenders Calvin Kattar and Yair Rodriguez. The 30-year-old former champion suffocated both men with his hellacious pace and otherworldly volume, landing a ridiculous 675 significant strikes combined over the two 25-minute contests.
UFC 276 FREE FIGHTS: Max Holloway vs Yair Rodriguez | Israel Adesanya vs Robert Whittaker 2 | Alexander Volkanovski vs Max Holloway 2 | Jared Cannonier vs Derek Brunson | Alexander Volkanovski vs Korean Zombie
Each of their first two meetings were ultra-competitive and crazy-close, with fractions of inches separating the two elite featherweights, and now it’s time to see if anything has changed as we ready for Rounds 11-15, potentially, on Saturday night in Las Vegas.
Will Volkanovski retain and banish Holloway from title contention for the foreseeable future or can “Blessed” bring the series closer, regain the featherweight throne, and potentially set up a fourth meeting between these two outstanding talents?
Sean Strickland vs. Alex Pereira
Strickland has been on a tear since returning from a two-year, injury-induced hiatus, collecting five straight victories to climb into the Top 5 in the middleweight rankings. The 31-year-old veteran is actually undefeated when competing in the 185-pound weight class, building a 20-0 record including victories over Brendan Allen, Uriah Hall, and Jack Hermansson.
A former two-division champion under the Glory Kickboxing shingle, Pereira has earned a pair of wins since signing with the UFC, stopping Andreas Michailidis in his promotional debut before out-working Bruno Silva over 15 minutes back in March. “Poatan” earned a pair of wins over Adesanya during their kickboxing days and has been in dogged pursuit of “The Last Stylebender” since debuting in the Octagon, confident that he’s the man to dethrone him.
This is a great piece of matchmaking as Strickland has been lights out, but would certainly benefit from a high profile victory on this kind of stage, while Pereira can prove his legitimacy as a title challenger by halting Strickland’s winning streak and handing the brash California native his first middleweight defeat.
Pedro Munhoz vs. Sean O’Malley
Brazilian veteran Pedro Munhoz looks to get back into the win column, while Sean O’Malley faces his toughest test to date when these two ranked bantamweight standouts collide on Saturday’s pay-per-view main card.
For the last several years, Munhoz has been one of the unsung standouts in the 135-pound weight class — a notoriously tough out who takes on all comers, has a granite chin and crisp, heavy hands, plus a wealth of experience and a slick submission game in his back pocket just in case of an emergency. While the results haven’t gone his way as of late, Munhoz is more than capable of dialing up a win and slowing O’Malley’s ascent on Saturday.
Now eight fights and seven victories into his UFC run, the 27-year-old O’Malley finally lands opposite his first Top 10 opponent. He’s looked outstanding over his last three efforts, most recently dispatching Raulian Paiva in the first round, but has yet to share the Octagon with someone as well rounded, aggressive, and dangerous as Munhoz.
Everyone has been waiting for this type of matchup for O’Malley and now the time has finally arrived. He’s dominated overmatched competition in seven of his eight assignments while looking the part of a future contender, but this is where we’ll find out if “The Sugar Show” is ready for prime time or not.
Robbie Lawler vs. Bryan Barberena
Robbie Lawler | Fighter Timeline
Robbie Lawler | Fighter Timeline
Lawler got back onto the win column with a third-round stoppage win over Nick Diaz last September in a performance that was overshadowed by the Diaz-ness of it all. The 40-year-old Sanford MMA representative remains focused on competing at the highest level and chasing down big name fights, and he believes a victory over Barberena on Saturday should help prove he’s still capable of both.
Fighting for the fourth time in the last 12 months, “Bam Bam” looks to push his winning streak to three after edging out Matt Brown on his home turf in Columbus earlier this year. A perennial Fight of the Night contender who dealt with a bevy of health issues between the summer of 2019 and returning last July, Barberena has put those days behind him and aims to secure another victory over one of the most respected names in the division this weekend.
While not the marquee name Lawler was hoping for, this is a tremendous opportunity for the ruthless veteran to show he can still bang it out with a tenacious, indefatigable cuss like Barberena. On the other side of things, picking up a second straight win over a tenured stalwart and collecting a fourth win in five fights would lift the Tennessee-based wildman to previously unreached heights in the welterweight division.
Brad Riddell vs. Jalin Turner
New Zealand’s Riddell had a cup of coffee in the rankings last year, sliding into the lower third after pushing his winning streak to seven with a tenacious win over Drew Dober. It was short-lived though, as he was stopped by Rafael Fiziev in the third round of their December clash and forced to give up the number next to his name.
Turner has continued moving closer to the Top 15 with each subsequent appearance over the last two years and change, posting four victories, all by stoppage, to bring his record to 12-5 overall. A long, wiry lightweight, the 27-year-old California native has a 100-percent finishing rate and will look to maintain that in his biggest test to date in the 155-pound weight class.
This should be an interesting clash of styles as Riddell is more of a bulldog, working well in the clinch and in close quarters, while Turner is at best working from distance, using his range to snipe at opponents before pouncing on finishes. Business is picking up in the lightweight division, and you can be sure neither of these men want to be left behind, which means they should combine for a crackerjack of a contest to close out the prelims this weekend.
Ian Garry vs. Gabe Green
It’s a clash between emerging competitors in the welterweight division as Irish prospect Ian Garry squares off with California-based finisher Gabe Green.
Billed as one of the top prospects in the sport upon arriving in the UFC from Cage Warriors, Garry impressed in his promotional debut, knocking out Jordan Williams at the close of the opening round at UFC 268 before dutifully working through a grind of a bout with Darian Weeks earlier this year. The 24-year-old remains unbeaten in his career and a work-in-progress in the cage, but the patient approach he’s taking has produced noticeable improvements each time he steps into the Octagon.
Called up on short notice in the spring of 2020 to face Daniel Rodriguez, Green lost that battle, but showed he deserved a place on the UFC roster, and since then, he’s started working forward in the welterweight division. After out-hustling Philip Rowe in February 2021, the 29-year-old athlete returned at the end of April and bounced newcomer Yohan Lainesse from the ranks of the unbeaten, finishing the previously undefeated Canadian late in the second round.
Garry still needs time to sharpen his skills before diving into the deep end of the talent pool in the 170-pound weight class, and Green is an excellent test and an experienced opponent who should push the Irishman, and could garner himself a generous bump in recognition if he were to hand “The Future” his first career loss this weekend.
Donald Cerrone vs. Jim Miller
After years of joking that Donald Cerrone and Jim Miller should face one another to determine who owns the record for the most wins in UFC history, the veteran combatants will do just that on Saturday as they square off in a welterweight matchup.
Cerrone was slated to go a couple weeks back before Joe Lauzon’s knee gave him troubles the day of the fight, scuttling the pairing for a second time in as many months. When Bobby Green was forced out of his assignment with Miller, “Cowboy” quickly volunteered, and will look to snap his six-fight run without a victory by replicating the performance he delivered the first time these two faced off eight years ago, where he knocked out Miller in the third round.
Bonus Résumé: Jim Miller
Bonus Résumé: Jim Miller
Miller continues showing he’s still got plenty left in the tank earlier this year by stopping newcomer Nikolas Motta less than two minutes into the second round of their mid-February pairing. It was the second straight stoppage victory for the tenured lightweight veteran, who sits in a three-way tie with Cerrone and Andrei Arlovski for the most UFC victories (23) while being one fight ahead of the former heavyweight champion and two bouts ahead of his adversary this weekend in terms of most career UFC appearances.
Cerrone and Miller have fought in a combined 76 UFC bouts heading into this weekend, earning 46 victories, 31 bonuses, and an unending string of plaudits from their peers. These are two consummate professionals with a ton of respect for one another, and it’s going to be all kinds of fun watching them try to beat the heck out of each other on Saturday night.
Jessica Eye vs. Maycee Barber
Entering on a three-fight skid, the 35-year-old has returned to her roots in Cleveland and the Strong Style Fight Team ahead of this contest. She’s been outhustled by fellow veterans Cynthia Calvillo, Joanne Wood, and Jennifer Maia in her last three outings, and will look to use her veteran savvy and experience advantage to stem the tide and score a victory over Barber this weekend.
Dealing with some adversity and failing to come close to her goal of besting Jon Jones’ record as the youngest champion in UFC history likely did Barber a world of good, as the 24-year-old has looked her best in her last two outings. After edging out Miranda Maverick in a close contest last summer, the Team Alpha Male representative got back to her gritty, tenacious roots in a unanimous decision win over Montana De La Rosa in April.
Uriah Hall vs. Andre Muniz
Fighting for the first time since last July, Hall looks to get back to the form that produced four straight victories ahead of his main event loss to Strickland nearly a year ago. The Fortis MMA representative suffered a broken orbital in that contest and dealt with depression issues following the bout but has worked through the darkness and is ready to get moving forward again with a victory over Muniz on Saturday night.
A Dana White’s Contender Series graduate (Class of ’19), Muniz is a perfect 4-0 inside the Octagon, having earned each of his last three victories by way of first-round submission due to an armbar. The Brazilian grappling ace is 16-1 over his last 17 appearances and could vault himself into the thick of the chase with a dominant effort over Hall.
These two were originally slated to compete in April before Hall was forced to withdraw for undisclosed reasons. Muniz elected to wait for the former Ultimate Fighter winner to recover, which in turn annoyed Hall, setting the stage for a tense, competitive clash early in the night at UFC 276.
Brad Tavares vs. Dricus Du Plessis
Entering on a two-fight winning streak and fighting for the first time in a shade under a year, Tavares has been a permanent fixture in the 185-pound weight class since joining the roster following his appearance on Season 11 of The Ultimate Fighter. The technically sound Hawaiian has won six of his last eight dating back to 2016, and is the kind of experienced, measured fighter to serve as a veteran challenge for the up-and-coming Du Plessis this weekend.
Like Tavares, the 28-year-old Du Plessis last fought at UFC 264, registering a second-round stoppage win over Trevin Giles to collect his second UFC finish in as many starts and push his record to 16-2 overall. “Stillknocks” has won 12 of his last 13, including stopping and being stopped by Croatian standout Roberto Soldic, and will look to take a major step forward in the middleweight ranks by turning back Tavares.
This is the perfect pairing for both men at this moment, as the Xtreme Couture-based veteran could use a victory over an emerging name, while Du Plessis needs to graduate to defeating tenured fighters in order to make headway in the middleweight hierarchy.
Jessica-Rose Clark vs. Julija Stoliarenko
After returning following major knee surgery in the fall of 2021 with a victory over Joselyne Edwards, Clark landed on the wrong side of the results in the middle of February, getting tossed to the canvas and submitted by Swiss judoka Stephanie Egger. The spirited Australian fan favorite was understandably disappointed with her performance and should give a better accounting of herself this weekend.
Stoliarenko ventures into the cage on Saturday night still searching for her first UFC victory, having landed on the wrong side of the results in each of her first three appearances. Last time out, the Lithuanian battled hard with former title challenger Alexis Davis, but once again fell short, leaving her without a win since claiming the vacant Invicta FC bantamweight title in the spring of 2020.
UFC 276: Adesanya vs Cannonier took place on Saturday, July 2, 2022 live T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada. See the Final Results, Official Scorecards and Who Won Bonuses - and relive the action on UFC Fight Pass!