UFC 276: Adesanya vs. Cannonier
11: 08 PM ET
ESPN Staff Writer
- MMA columnist for ESPN.com
- Analyst for “MMA Live”
- Covered MMA for Las Vegas Sun
Safe to say, Alexander Volkanovski has buried his rivalry with Max Holloway for good.
Volkanovski (25-1) defended his featherweight championship for the fourth time on Saturday, defeating Holloway (23-7) via unanimous decision in their highly anticipated trilogy bout. All three judges scored the 145-pound title fight, which co-headlined UFC 276 inside T-Mobile Arena, a clean 50-45 sweep for the defending champ.
Saturday’s five-round contest was, by far, the most definitive result of the trilogy. The two first met at UFC 245 in December 2019 and again at UFC 251 in July 2020. Volkanovski won both by decision, but the fights were extremely close — particularly the rematch. Immediately after the rematch, some in the sport still considered Holloway the true featherweight champion, but that sentiment is long gone after UFC 276.
The fight played out entirely on the feet, with neither featherweight even attempting a takedown until the final round. Holloway moved forward throughout the bout but struggled to land consistent offense on the defensively sound Volkanovski. Volkanovski, meanwhile, punished Holloway throughout. He opened a deep cut on Holloway’s left eyebrow in the second round and damaged his nose with shots in the fourth.
Volkanovski has emerged as arguably the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world since taking Holloway’s belt in their first fight. He has now defended the title against Holloway twice, as well as against Brian Ortega and Chan Sung Jung. He is currently eyeing a move up to lightweight to challenge for a second belt, a proposal UFC president Dana White has already voiced his support for.
Volkanovski has won 22 fights in a row, including 12 in the UFC. Holloway sees a two-fight win streak snapped. His only losses at featherweight dating back to 2014 have come against Volkanovski.
Watch Volkanovski vs. Holloway 3 on ESPN
Fight in progress: Middleweight championship: Israel Adesanya (c) (22-1, 11-1 UFC, -490) vs. Jared Cannonier (15-5, 8-5 UFC, 370)
Round One: Israel Adesanya takes the first, 10-9. Not a ton of action from either middleweight, as they feel each other out, throw mostly single shots. Some good leg kicks traded.
Round Two: Another round for Adesanya, have him up 20-18. Cannonier isn’t eating many big shots, but he’s not scoring any offense of his own. He’s navigating Adesanya’s range with some degree of comfort, but it looks like he might be looking for that perfect shot. Wondering if we’ll see him increase output in the next three rounds.
Round Three: Very slow round. Sense of urgency from Cannonier in that he changes tactics. Looks to make it ugly. A few takedown attempts, then fighting in the clinch, looking to use his physicality. Not extremely successful, though. The problem remains, he’s not scoring offense. 30-27 Adesanya.
Round Four: Surgical round at times by Adesanya. Accurate counterstriking. Cannonier has no answers and no real game plan to score offense. He can’t get Adesanya to the ground and his striking pressure hasn’t been enough to wear on the champ. 40-36 Adesanya.
UFC 276 results
Middleweight: Alex Pereira (6-1, 3-0 UFC) def. Sean Strickland (25-4, 12-4 UFC) by knockout (Watch on ESPN )
The questions about whether or not Pereira was in too deep this early into his MMA career were quickly put to rest Saturday night.
Pereira, the elite-level kickboxer, crushed Strickland via knockout at 2: 36 of the first round. Pereira clipped Strickland’s chin with a left hook and followed up with a straight right as Strickland tried to get back to his feet. The right put Strickland back down and referee Jason Herzog immediately stepped in to stop things.
With the victory, Pereira could be the No. 1 contender in the middleweight division. He owns two kickboxing victories over current champion Israel Adesanya, including a knockout. In his postfight interview, Pereira asked the fans at T-Mobile Arena to cheer for Adesanya, who is competing in the main event against Jared Cannonier.
Pereira, 34, has won his first three UFC fights, two of which have come via KO/TKO. The Brazilian slugger, who trains with former UFC light heavyweight champion Glover Teixeira, has won six straight with five knockouts. Strickland, 31, had a six-fight winning streak snapped. The Las Vegas-based fighter had not lost since 2018.
Welterweight: Bryan Barberena (18-8, 9-6 UFC) def. Robbie Lawler (29-16, 14-10 UFC) by TKO (Watch on ESPN )
It was a back-and-forth, fan-friendly battle between two popular welterweights before Barberena put an exclamation on things with a second-round flurry. Referee Mark Smith called it off at the 4: 47 mark, as Lawler looked nearly out on his feet.
Barberena, 33, picked up his third win in a row, but this last one was well-earned. He was staggered twice by Lawler uppercuts and jabs, and punches bloodied his face — but a nice sequence in the second round led to his 11th career knockout.
The finish started with a standing lead elbow up the middle. Barberena followed that with boxing combinations around Lawler’s guard, which backed him up to the fence. Barberena continued to unload on Lawler until the referee stopped the fight.
“It’s everything I dreamed of and more,” Barberena said. “He had good pressure. He had good timing. He’s an absolute legend and it’s an absolute honor to be in there and fight him.”
Lawler, 40, looked good in the opening round and for much of the second. He maintained steady pressure on Barberena and did well rolling with a lot of Barberena’s shots in the pocket. Barberena didn’t let him off the hook though, and finally hurt him late in the second round.
Lawler has lost five of his last six, as his one victory in that stretch came against Nick Diaz, who came out of a semi-retirement to fight him last September.
Men’s bantamweight: Pedro Munhoz (19-7 2 NC, 9-7 2 NC UFC) vs. Sean O’Malley (15-1 1 NC, 7-1 1 NC UFC) ends in a no contest (Watch on ESPN )
O’Malley’s winning streak ended with a result that no one at T-Mobile Arena was pleased with.
O’Malley and Munhoz fought to a no contest to open the UFC 276 card due to an accidental O’Malley eye poke. The ringside physician ruled that Munhoz could not continue and referee Jason Herzog waved it off. The finish came at 3: 09 of the second round – and the crowd booed loudly. The bout was a technical one over a round plus, with lots of tactical techniques and leg kicks. O’Malley seemed to be landing harder with his hands, especially in the second round, but it remained a close fight between two strong 135-pound fighters. Munhoz won the first round on two of the three judges’ scorecards.
O’Malley, 27, is one of the hottest – and most popular – young fighters in the UFC and doesn’t lose much stock here. The Alaska-born Arizona resident is unbeaten in four straight, though his winning streak and fight-night bonus streak will come to an end.
Munhoz, a 35-year-old Brazilian fighter who lives and trains in Florida, has the most fights in UFC bantamweight history (18), per ESPN Stats & Info. He is winless in three straight bouts, with his last win coming in February 2021 over Jimmie Rivera.
Lightweight: Jalin Turner (13-5, 6-2 UFC) def. Brad Riddell (10-3, 4-2 UFC) by submission (Watch on ESPN )
Jalin Turner submits Brad Riddell with a guillotine choke in Round 1 of their fight.
Jailn Turner. Talk about making a statement.
Turner, of San Bernardino, California, put himself on the lightweight map in a big way by torching Riddell in the very first round. Turner secured a guillotine choke just 45 seconds in, just moments after dropping him with a right hand.
“I come here to finish. That’s my job, to make it entertaining for you guys,” Turner said. “And I don’t get paid by the hour, so I’m in and out.”
Turner has been on fire as of late. The 27-year-old has now won five in a row and produced a finish in every single one. He is 6-2 overall in the UFC, with finishes in all six of his wins. His losses have come to Vicente Luque and Matt Frevola.
Riddell, who went into Saturday with a top 15 rank, has now been finished in his last two fights. He suffered a knockout loss to Rafael Fiziev in December.
Welterweight: Jim Miller (35-16, 24-16 UFC) def. Donald Cerrone (36-17 2 NC, 23-14 1 NC UFC) by submission (Watch on ESPN )
Jim Miller gets Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone to tap, becoming the UFC’s all-time wins leader in the process.
The most prolific, winningest fighter in UFC history is now on his longest winning streak in six years.
Miller finished Cerrone via submission with a guillotine choke at 1: 32 of the second round in a battle of the two men vying for the most victories in UFC history. Miller and “Cowboy” came into Saturday tied with Andrei Arlovski for the most wins, and now Miller has the edge with 24. Afterward, Cerrone, one of the most popular fighters in the UFC for years, took off his gloves and left them and his cowboy hat in the middle of the Octagon. “Cowboy” announced his retirement in his postfight interview with Joe Rogan.
“I don’t love it anymore, Joe,” Cerrone said. “It’s hard for me to get up. This is the longest camp I had for a long time. … I’m going to be a movie star, baby. It’s time to bow out. This is the perfect event, man. Sold-out crowd, Las Vegas.”
In the finishing sequence, Miller and Cerrone both went for kicks. Cerrone partially landed a head kick but slipped, and Miller took advantage, grabbing a standing front headlock and jumping for the guillotine. The choke was tight and Cerrone had no choice but to tap.
“The kick landed pretty good,” Miller said. “It hit me in the neck. I was having some flashbacks of our first encounter.”
Miller, 38, has won three straight, his longest such winning streak since 2016. The New Jersey native has the most fights ever in the UFC (40) and has been in the promotion since 2008.
“Donald is a guy I look up to, someone I’m a fan of,” Miller said. “I’m excited to get the W. This is 40 UFC walks for me. It’s too many to really count.”
Cerrone, 39, is winless in seven straight, going back to 2019. The Colorado native, who lives and trains in New Mexico, has the second most finishes in UFC history (16) and is tied for the most fight-night bonuses in UFC history with Charles Oliveira (18).
Miller vs. Cerrone was contested at welterweight after Cerrone stepped in on short notice, following two dropped fights between Cerrone and fellow lightweight luminary Joe Lauzon.
Welterweight: Ian Garry (10-0, 3-0 UFC, -175) def. Gabe Green (11-4, 2-2 UFC) by unanimous decision (Watch on ESPN )
One of Ireland’s brightest prospects continued to shine on the prelims, as Garry easily out-pointed Green over three rounds. All three judges scored it a sweep for Garry, 30-27.
The 24-year-old was too much on the feet for Green. According to UFC Stats, Garry out-landed Green in total strikes 113 to 78, and he bloodied his opponent’s face in the opening round. Garry utilized his lengthy frame and stayed on the outside the majority of the fight, popping Green with an effective jab and right cross.
Garry scored a knockdown early in the third round, but he never came close to a finish. It was another dominant striking display for Garry, as he earned his third win in the UFC in just nine months.
Green falls to 2-2 in the UFC.
Middleweight: Dricus du Plessis (17-2, 3-0 UFC) def. Brad Tavares (19-8, 14-7 UFC) by unanimous decision (Watch on ESPN )
The last year has been a series of starts and stops for Du Plessis. He’s had four scheduled fights canceled for various reasons since last December, but he reminded everyone in the Octagon on Saturday that he’s still a serious prospect at 185 pounds.
Du Plessis bested Tavares via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28) in a back-and-forth, bloody battle on the UFC 276 prelims. After a strong Tavares first round that saw Tavares drop Du Plessis with a right hand late, Du Plessis rallied, cut up Tavares’ face in the second round and put a stamp on things with a big third.
It seemed early on that Du Plessis was looking to take the fight to the ground. When he couldn’t get Tavares down, he stuck with the standup game to great success. Tavares landed a big shot late in the first, but Du Plessis got off with boxing combos and front kicks in the second round, leaving Tavares’ nose busted and blood pouring down his face. The third round was more of that, though Tavares showed life late with some hard right hands.
Du Plessis, 28, is a perfect 3-0 now in the UFC. The South African fighter has won five straight overall, going back to his time in EFC and KSW. Tavares, a 34-year-old Hawaiian fighting out of Las Vegas, had a two-fight winning streak snapped.
Middleweight: Andre Muniz (23-4, 5-0 UFC) def. Uriah Hall (18-11, 10-9 UFC) by unanimous decision (Watch on ESPN )
Muniz, of Brazil, picked up his first win of 2022 — and fifth in a row inside the UFC — in a one-sided decision over Hall. The submission ace failed to secure a finish despite regularly working into dominant position, but earned unanimous 30-27 scores.
Hall, who fell to 0-2 in his last two appearances, couldn’t keep the fight off the ground, as Muniz took him down in the first half of every round. Even when Hall was standing, he looked timid and cautious of Muniz’s wrestling.
Muniz is riding some good momentum in the Octagon, with wins now over the likes of Hall, Ronaldo ‘Jacare’ Souza and Eryk Anders. He has three first-round submissions in the UFC as well.
Women’s flyweight: Maycee Barber (11-2, 6-2 UFC) def. Jessica Eye (15-11 1 NC, 5-10 1 NC UFC) by unanimous decision (Watch on ESPN )
Maycee Barber is once again a factor in the UFC women’s flyweight division.
The former top prospect has lost some luster from that blue-chipper label in recent years, but she is back on track now following a unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 30-27) win over the former title challenger Eye.
Afterward, Barber said this was the last fight on her UFC contract and she looks forward to sitting down with UFC president Dana White and chief business officer Hunter Campbell to discuss a new deal – and a future title shot.
Eye took off her gloves following the bout and announced her retirement in her postfight interview with Joe Rogan.
“I think it’s time,” Eye said. “I’ve been a pro since 2009. I’ve had plenty of UFC fights.”
Barber was able to keep the aggressive Eye at bay for all three rounds. Eye’s strategy was clear – initiate a clinch and try to get Barber to the ground. Barber was able to fend her off with elbows and punches in the clinch, as well as knees and high kicks late in the fight. Eye did get Barber down in the second round and spent most of that frame in top position, though she didn’t do much damage. Barber landed a big elbow in the first round that caused a large hematoma over Eye’s right eye.
Barber, 24, has won three straight following a two-fight losing streak. The Colorado native seems to have found a proper home at Team Alpha Male in Sacramento, California, after bouncing around different camps. Eye, a 35-year-old Ohio native, has lost four in a row and five straight.
Women’s bantamweight: Julija Stoliarenko (10-7-2, 1-3 UFC) def. Jessica-Rose Clark (11-8, 4-4 UFC) by submission (Watch on ESPN )
Julija Stoliarenko wins in Round 1 thanks to an armbar submission of Jessica-Rose Clark at UFC 276.
Stoliarenko, of Lithuania, earned her first win in four attempts inside the Octagon, as she made quick work of Clark via first-round armbar. The finish came just 42 seconds into the fight. Stoliarenko is known for a wicked armbar, and she wasted no time finding it against Clark, as she took her down immediately. Clark quickly tapped, but not fast enough. The armbar was applied so aggressively that Clark’s left elbow appeared to be dislocated before referee Chris Tognoni could intervene.
It’s Stoliarenko’s first win since March 2020. Clark 4-4 overall in the UFC.
The author of 5 books, 3 of which are New York Times bestsellers. I’ve been published in more than 100 newspapers and magazines and am a frequent commentator on NPR.