The UFC holds its 10th annual “International Fight Week” from June 27 through July 3, 2022 in Las Vegas, Nevada. The anchor of that celebration is the UFC 276 pay-per-view fight card, which takes place on July 2 from T-Mobile Arena.
The main event of the UFC 276 fight card sees Israel Adesanya put his UFC middleweight title on the line against the No. 2 ranked Jared Cannonier. In the evening’s co-main event, Alexander Volkanovski puts his UFC featherweight title up for grabs against the man he took the belt from, former UFC 145-pound king Max Holloway. The matchup marks the third time the two have faced off in the past two-and-a-half years. Volkanovski won the previous meetings via decision.
For this article, SBS will go over what to look for from each combatant, who has the edge, and who will ultimately prevail at UFC 276 in Las Vegas.
|UFC 276 Championship Bouts||The Pick|
|Adasanya vs. Cannonier||Adesanya||-400||-360||-370|
|Volkanovski vs. Holloway||Volkanovski||-185||-180||-190|
Fighter Spotlight: Israel Adesanya
Israel Adesanya looks like the heir to former UFC middleweight champion Anderson Silva. That is to say, a dominant champion who will hold the title for a long while.
Once a borderline reckless striker, Adesanya has matured during his career. He is a more tactical fighter today. Preferring to pick apart his opponents at distance rather than overwhelm them with fancy — but risky — techniques. With a strong background in kickboxing, Adesanya is one of the best strikers — offensively and defensively — in the UFC today. If he has a weakness, it is in his ground grappling game. That should not come into play against Cannonier.
Fighter Spotlight: Jared Cannonier
Power is the name of the game when it comes to Jared Cannonier. Once a heavyweight in the UFC, Cannonier has moved down to 185 pounds over the years, but he has kept his ability to end a fight with a single strike. The issue Cannonier faces in Adesanya is that the champion holds advantages over him in height, reach, speed, skill, technique and defense.
Cannonier has a puncher’s chance in this fight. However, he’s going to need to close ground, strike and then move out of range against a talented and fast counterstriker.
Prediction: There’s a chance that the challenger will score an upset knockout victory, but that chance is a small one. Adesanya is levels above most of the UFC middleweight division and I expect him to cruise to a decision victory at UFC 276.
Fighter Spotlight: Alexander Volkanovski
Few featherweights can hang with Max Holloway when it comes to volume striking. Fewer featherweights can play a defensive game that limits the striking of Holloway. One fighter who has done both — on two occasions — is Alexander Volkanovski.
In their first meeting, Volkanovski outlanded Holloway 157 to 135. He had a defense rate of 49 percent. In the rematch, the champs defense was even better, at 62 percent, and he outlanded Holloway 139 to 111 in total strikes.
The champ is superb at mixing up his attacks. In the rematch between these two he landed 46 percent head strikes and 48 percent leg strikes. He kept Holloway guessing, but more importantly, he kept him to the outside. One of the most sound technical strikers in the UFC, Volkanovski is disciplined, well-coached and able to adjust in fight.
Fighter Spotlight: Max Holloway
During a title reign that began in December 2016 and ran through his loss to Volkanovski in December 2019, Max Holloway set the standard at 145 pounds. With a chin of granite, excellent cardio and the ability to throw an incredible number of strikes, Holloway became a fan favorite. His defining fight was his January 2021 bout opposite Calvin Kattar. In that contest he attempted 746 total strikes and landed 447.
Holloway is all about volume, but he has struggled to hit Volkanovski. In their rematch, Holloway attempted 277 total strikes, but only landed 111. That was, by far, the fewest strikes he landed in a five-round fight with the UFC.
Prediction: Unless Holloway has found a way to penetrate the defense of Volkanovski or found an extra source of power, I suspect Volkanovski’s sound defense and technical offense will carry the day in this trilogy fight. The champ should retain.
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