UFC 276 Fight Card – Israel Adesanya vs. Jared Cannonier: Five Storylines in Las Vegas

In an annual tradition for the world’s premier MMA promotion on the first weekend in July, International Fight Week takes center stage this weekend in Las Vegas UFC 276 Crown Jewel Pay-Per-View Card.

Middleweight champion Israel Adesanya is looking to make his fifth title defense against Jared Cannonier in the main event. Current and former featherweight kings Alexander Volkanovski and Max Holloway also meet for the third time in a highly anticipated co-main event.

Let’s take a look at the biggest storylines of the event, starting from the T-Mobile Arena.

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1. Are we sleeping on Jared Cannonier’s odds?

Much of the attention surrounding Saturday’s headlining match focused on the return of Adesanya, a rising global star just five months away from his UFC 271 rematch against former champion Robert Whittaker. However, most of those conversations have stalled to further discuss whether the 38-year-old cannonier poses a viable threat to his title. From a betting standpoint, Adesanya has remained a 4-1 favourite, largely due to his command of distance control and the quality of his timing and hitting. But Cannonier isn’t easy for anyone given its explosiveness and punch. He’s also far more dangerous from a one-strike standpoint than anyone Adesanya has faced in the UFC at 185 pounds.

Cannonier, who famously started his MMA career as a heavyweight before slowly moving down the ladder, is 6-1 overall since first dropping to 185 pounds in 2018. Whittaker’s only loss came in a fight in 2020, at the Cannonier broke his arm in the opening round and still managed to collect and injure Whittaker in the closing minutes. From a skill versus skill standpoint, Adesanya has an advantage over almost every fighter on the planet. But the champion has also shown a tendency at times to take a much more reserved stance after tasting the power of an elite slugger, most notably in his unforgettable decision win over Yoel Romero. For Cannonier, this is the opportunity he has worked his entire career for and should have no reason not to keep it all open. Anyone expecting Adesanya to make it look as easy as he did against Marvin Vettori or Paulo Costa might be in for a shock.

2. Will the third time finally be the appeal for Max Holloway?

As rare as it is in the UFC’s 29-year history to see a title trilogy, it’s almost unheard of for fighter after fighter, in this case Volkanovski, to hold a 2-0 lead in the series. But the controversial nature of their 2020 rematch prompted the UFC blasters to give Holloway, already considered a future Hall of Famer at just 30, a third chance to solve Volkanovski’s technical style. The obvious question is what else Holloway and his team need to do to leave the judges in no doubt. According to both fighters in recent weeks, the judges may not be necessary as each has predicted they would win by KO. But just before an all-out brawl broke out, the 10 rounds of action the two have already produced have shown Volkanovski to be the slightly better fighter. Although Holloway opened the rematch strongly by dropping his opponent in each of the first two rounds, it was Volkanovski who made the necessary fight adjustments to rally in the championship rounds and influence the judges. Make no mistake, this third meeting has potential historic repercussions as two of the pound-for-pound featherweight bests battle again today for 145-pound dominance. However, a strong argument can be made that the 33-year-old Volkanovski has shown the better improvement of the two in recent years, highlighted by his demolition of late replacement Chan Sung Jung in April, which saw the champion claim his first stop win scored five fights.

3. The winner of the trilogy could be the featherweight GOAT

The beauty in this case may be in the eye of the beholder when it comes to the 12-year history of the UFC’s 145-pound division. Many will tell you that the conversation about greatest featherweight starts and ends with Jose Aldo, who holds a division record of seven title defenses and was promoted to full UFC champion after the WEC merger without having to win a fight. Then there’s the hipster debate surrounding Conor McGregor, who went 7-0 as a UFC featherweight with wins over Aldo, Chad Mendes, Dustin Poirier and Holloway before exiting the division without a single title defense. But with all due respect to the two legends mentioned above, the case could be even stronger for the winner of Saturday’s trilogy fight. Though Volkanovski and Holloway are both in second place with three featherweight title defenses, they both have outright wins over a still dangerous Aldo. Holloway even owns two of them, both of which lead to devastating disruptions. What Volkanovski lacks in overall name power on his resume compared to Holloway, he makes up for by being undefeated in 11 trips to the Octagon. Oh yes, not to mention that a win at UFC 276 would give him a third win against Holloway. Case closed.

4. Alex Pereira’s moment of truth is right now

Pereira, a two-division former glory kickboxing champion, is 2-0 in the UFC since his debut last year and finds himself in an interesting position as a future Adesanya opponent considering he’s “The Last Stylebender.” ‘ twice in kickboxing (including once by KO). ). But before the posters can be printed to promote a future fight between the two, the 34-year-old Brazilian is expected to have his hands full against 4th-ranked Sean Strickland. Pereira, a training partner of former UFC champion Glover Teixeira, holds the fighting power in both hands but is still largely a work in progress regarding his full-time move to MMA. With that in mind, an encounter with someone as technical and aggressive as Strickland might reveal Pereira’s lack of experience. Should Pereira be on her back for long stretches, the potential for a late night at the office is there. While he remains a slight betting favorite on his uptrend, Pereira will need to show the merits of his ongoing development if he hopes to break the line and secure a title shot with a win.

5. It’s time to find out just how good Sean O’Malley really is

Remember that three-fight stretch where O’Malley intentionally accepted fights against outnumbered enemies while challenging the UFC for payment to challenge himself? Luckily that seems to be over. O’Malley, a brilliant 27-year-old with an eccentric touch for self-promotion, will be back in contention for the first time since losing to Marlon Vera in 2020 when he takes on the battle-hardened Pedro Munhoz. On paper, it’s hard to overlook Munhoz’s recent streak of four losses in five bouts. But all four of Munhoz’s most recent losses, 35, came by decision against former champions, bringing KO power, tenacity and a well-rounded game to this Test against O’Malley. Although it was briefly slated to headline the preliminary UFC 276 card, which will air live on ABC in prime time, recent changes to the card could bring it back into the PPV portion. Anyhow, it’s time for O’Malley to step up his game against more experienced opponents as he nears a title shot in the sport’s deepest league.

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