The UFC delivered a banger with the UFC 276 Pay-Per-View card from the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada. The Middleweight title was on the line, with Israel Adesanya once again defending his title. He won a unanimous decision over Jared Cannonier in the main event, securing his fifth title defense in the process.
There are a number of ranked fighters with matches booked on the horizon, with the division sure to take shape over the next few months. At the end of July, Jack Hermansson and Darren Till lock horns in a top-10 bout at UFC London. The following month, Paulo Costa is booked against Luke Rockhold, while former champion and top contender Robert Whittaker will face off with #3 ranked Marvin Vettori in September. This morning, Nassourdine Imavov and Joaquin Buckley were booked for a bout on the same date.
The division is filled with high profile names and rising prospects, so there is no shortage of bangers the UFC matchmakers should have their eyes on.
Israel Adesanya further cemented his legacy at Middleweight with another successful defense at UFC 276. He is steadily climbing towards Anderson Silva's record for title defenses and is committed to staying at the weight class to take on new challengers. A contender emerged at UFC 276, as Alex Pereira stormed into the top five of the division with a first round knockout of Sean Strickland. With Alex Pereira holding two wins over Adesanya in kickboxing and Dana White confirming the Pereira/Strickland bout as a title eliminator, this is clearly the fight to make.
Jared Cannonier did not get his hand raised in the main event, but gave a good account of himself. Indeed, he lasted all five rounds with the champ and brought in a meticulous game plan. Still firmly entrenched in the top five, Cannonier will be looking to rebound and push back for the title. A big challenge is on the horizon as top ten European stars Jack Hermansson and Darren Till are facing off later this month. WIth similar timelines and rankings, whichever fighter proves victorious deserves a step towards the belt.
A vicious KO loss to Alex Pereira saw Sean Strickland's title hopes dashed in our featured bout this evening. Strickland was riding a six-fight win streak and is still cemented in the top half of the division, but will need a few more wins to get back in the title picture. Eighth-ranked Paulo Costa will battle Luke Rockhold in August, both looking for a statement finish and to get back in the win column. The victor will match up nicely with Strickland, who will need a little extra time to recover.
On the early prelims, Andre Muniz picked up a dominant victory, claiming a decision over Octagon veteran Uriah Hall. This win will catapult Muniz into the top ten come Monday, and with an undefeated Octagon streak, he undoubtedly deserves a push towards the title. Derek Brunson recently lost to Jared Cannonier in a title eliminator, leaving him pushing for the record of most wins at Middleweight. With Brunson seated in the top five, a match with the fast rising Muniz would be a stiff test.
Finally, Dricus Du Plessis scored a decision victory over Brad Tavares on the ABC prelims. Du Plessis is an unorthodox fighter with explosive striking and one shot knockout power, along with a plethora of chokes to his name. He will find a number next to his name on Monday with the win over Tavares. Du Plessis called out Kelvin Gastelum in his post-fight interview, and the bout makes perfect sense. The pair were previously booked in April, but the fight fell through. The rebooking makes even more sense, given their similar ranking and Gastelum's name value.