UFC 276 is officially in the books. The event took place at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada where the results were a bit of a mixed bag. Despite the diversity in fight quality, there were a few gems on the card, with one historic rivalry reaching an emphatic conclusion.
They can't all be zingers and such was the case at UFC 276 as Israel Adesanya defended his Middleweight crown against the surging Jared Cannonier. The bout was largely dictated by a battle of low kicks and the jab of Adesanya. Many of the movements and attacks we have grown accustomed to seeing were on full display by the Champion, namely, the trademark stance-switching and feints. To be fair to the challenger, "The Killa Gorilla" did have a relatively strong third round, but it seemed like Cannonier was having trouble getting the fight out of first gear. Ultimately, Adesanya walked away with a clear-cut unanimous cecision victory consisting of two 49-46's and one 50-45 scorecard.
Alexander "The Great" Volkanovski made sure there was no controversy this time. In what can only be described as a virtuoso performance, the Aussie Champion butchered fan-favorite Max Holloway for twenty-five minutes. Volkanovski appeared to have a significant speed advantage over Holloway, as he picked him apart from range with lightning-fast jabs and frequently darted in with vicious boxing combinations. Outside of a few well-timed knees, "Blessed" really didn't seem to have an answer to the complex and well-rounded attack that Volkanovski presented. All three cage-side judges scored the bout 50-45, with the Verdict Community having no qualms this time around.
This historical career checkpoint marks four straight title defenses for the Featherweight great, as well as the continuation of an incredible twelve-fight win-streak under the UFC's banner.
Middleweight just gained a new title contender in Alex Pereira. On paper, Sean Strickland represented a formidable challenge; he was well-rounded, composed, battle-tested, and most importantly, the first ranked fighter that Alex Pereira had ever faced. To say that Pereira passed the test would be an understatement, as he was able to dispatch Strickland in less than three minutes into the opening stanza with an expertly set-up left hook to the dome, followed by a sniper-like straight right. As previously mentioned, what was most impressive about the final blow was how "Poatan" set it up by feinting low to the body in order to bait Strickland into dropping his right hand. Despite this only being Pereira's third UFC appearance, don't be surprised to see this man challenge Israel Adesanya for the Middleweight strap in the near future, as Adesanya will likely look to right the wrongs of his past by erasing his losses to Pereira in kickboxing with a win in MMA.
In a battle of the southpaw brawlers, Bryan Barberena came out on top. In a back and forth first round, "Bam Bam" threw a wide variety of strikes Robbie Lawler's way, while "Ruthless" took a more measured approach of slip and rip. It was a story of quantity vs quality in round one, with Lawler seeming to land the more impactful strikes and Barberena connecting more often. It was an extremely contentious first round, with the Verdict Community being relatively split on who won. In the end, how the first round was scored didn't really matter, as Barberena more-or-less put Lawler out on his feet with a series of punches near the end of round two. This victory puts Barberena on an impressive three-fight win streak in the UFC's Welterweight Division.
It was a disappointing turn of events in this highly anticipated bout. Rising star Sean O'Malley was looking to finally take the leap into the deep end of the UFC's Bantamweight division by landing a victory over veteran Pedro Munhoz. The first round saw both fighters frequently switching stances as Munhoz chopped away at the legs of O'Malley. The second round saw O'Malley start to pick up the pace a bit and land some punches on Munhoz before he, unfortunately, poked Pedro's right eye when attempting to frame off. Referee Jason Herzog gave Munhoz plenty of time to recover from the injury, however, Munhoz claimed that he was unable to see and the bout was called off.