UFC 276 is all set to deliver a spectacular night of fights in Las Vegas as International Fight Week returns to Sin City with a stacked card of bouts from T-Mobile Arena.
Ahead of fight night, we mark your card with a quickfire rundown of everything you need to know as fight week gets underway in the “Fight Capital of the World.”
Israel Adesanya vs. Jared Cannonier
Israel Adesanya looks to defend the UFC middleweight title for the fifth time as he steps in opposite hard-charging challenger Jared Cannonier in Saturday’s finale.
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.
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.
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
Before Adesanya and Cannonier battle for the middleweight title in the main event, Sean Strickland and Alex Pereira clash in a bout that could very well determine who will face the winner.
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.
UFC 276 Details
Date: Saturday, 2nd July
Location: T-Mobile Arena, Las Vegas, NV
Who is on the card?
- Israel Adesanya vs. Jared Cannonier – for middleweight title
- Alexander Volkanovski vs. Max Holloway – for featherweight title
- Sean Strickland vs. Alex Pereira
- Pedro Munhoz vs. Sean O’Malley
- Brad Riddell vs. Jalin Turner
- Robbie Lawler vs. Bryan Barberena
- Maycee Barber vs. Jessica Eye
- Ian Garry vs. Gabe Green
- Jim Miller vs. Donald Cerrone
- Uriah Hall vs. Andre Muniz
- Dricus Du Plessis vs. Brad Tavares
- Jessica-Rose Clark vs. Julija Stoliarenko