UFC 276 is about to ready to get underway. The combat world has descended upon Las Vegas for International Fight Week where a pair of title fights tip the marquee. UFC always loads up these fabled events, and they did just that for the 10th annual time. It all goes down from the.
Middleweight champion Israel Adesanya welcomes his latest challenge in the form of a destructive knockout artist in the form of Jared Cannonier. The veteran from Alaska gets his first chance at gold at 37 after journeying through both the heavyweight and light heavyweight divisions before settling in at 185 pounds. Adesanya, meanwhile, maintains a perfect record at middleweight with his lone defeat coming in an attempt to earn a second title at 205 pounds.
Meanwhile, the first title fight to hit the Octagon on Saturday marks a long awaited trilogy when featherweight champion Alexander Volkanovski takes on Max Holloway. Volkanovski enters on an amazing 20-fight win streak, including a pair of victories over Holloway in their first two meetings. Holloway, however, bounced back from those defeats to remind everyone why he is the top challenger to the title with wins over Calvin Kattar and Yair Rodriguez.
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The undercard fills out with Sean Strickland and Alex Pereira throwing down at middleweight and veterans Robbie Lawler and Bryan Barberena battling it out at welterweight. Plus, rising bantamweight contender Sean O'Malley taking on Pedro Munhoz to open the PPV portion of the card.
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With so much happening on Saturday night, let's take a closer look at the full fight card with the latest odds from Caesars Sportsbook before we get to our staff predictions and picks for the PPV portion of the festivities.
UFC 276 fight card, odds
- Israel Adesanya (c) -490 vs. Jared Cannonier +370, middleweight championship
- Alexander Volkanovski (c) -210 vs. Max Holloway +175, featherweight championship
- Sean Strickland -120 vs. Alex Pereira +100, middleweights
- Robbie Lawler -120 vs. Bryan Barberena +100, welterweights
- Sean O'Malley -310 vs. Pedro Munhoz +250, bantamweights
- Jalin Turner -150 vs. Brad Riddell +125, lightweights
- Jim Miller -190 vs. Donald Cerrone +160, welterweights
- Ian Garry -175 vs. Gabriel Green +150, welterweights
- Dricus Du Plessis -155 vs. Brad Tavares +130, middleweights
- Andre Muniz -340 vs. Uriah Hall +270, middleweights
- Maycee Barber -300 vs. Jessica Eye +240, women's flyweights
- Jessica Rose-Clark -160 vs. Julija Stoliarenko +135, women's bantamweights
With such a massive main event on tap, the crew at CBS Sports went ahead with predictions and picks for the main card. Here are your pick makers: Brent Brookhouse (Combat sports writer), Brian Campbell (Combat sports writer, co-host of "Morning Kombat"), Shakiel Mahjouri (writer), Michael Mormile (producer) and Brandon Wise (senior editor).
UFC 276 picks, predictions
|Adesanya (c) vs. Cannonier||Cannonier||Adesanya||Adesanya||Adesanya||Adesanya|
|Volkanovski (c) vs. Holloway||Volkanovski||Volkanovski||Volkanovski||Holloway||Holloway|
|Strickland vs. Pereira||Strickland||Strickland||Strickland||Strickland||Pereira|
|Lawler vs. Barberena||Barberena||Barberena||Barberena||Lawler||Barberena|
|O'Malley vs. Munhoz||O'Malley||O'Malley||O'Malley||O'Malley||O'Malley|
|Records to date (2022)||14-15||16-13||13-16||16-13||19-10|
Adesanya vs. Cannonier
Campbell: Styles have always made fights in combat sports and Cannonier has the kind of style, thanks to his explosiveness and power, to give even the most technical savant some pause. Just ask former champion Robert Whittaker, who even after breaking Cannonier's arm in the opening round of their 2020 bout was forced to survive a perilous third round against him. Adesanya has gone public this week by boldly declaring to multiple outlets he would "kill" and "f--- up" Cannonier, which if he's being sincere, might be the exact wrong way to go about trying to disarm the 38-year-old slugger. Cannonier's reach disadvantage of just 2.5 inches is also significantly smaller than the advantage Adesanya has known against recent opponents. Would Cannonier defeat Adesanya nine times out of 10 in a fight? The answer is clearly no. But it only takes one and the clouds may have aligned for Cannonier to have as good of a chance as any recent light heavyweight in potentially shocking the champion. If he can work in leg strikes to slow Adesanya down, Cannonier has a legitimate chance to make this into a real fight. Adesanya may be forced to show his daring side for the first time since his memorable five-round brawl with Kelvin Gastelum. Only one thing, in this case, is for sure: Cannonier isn't the type of fighter you want to be still trading with in the championship rounds. Too many, it seems, are sleeping on the possibility of this becoming real.
Brookhouse: Cannonier is a dangerous fighter. He has scary power and does have the ability to try and wrestle if he thinks that's his best chance to beat the champion. It's worth remembering that Cannonier has fought -- and had success -- at heavyweight and light heavyweight before finding his true "best weight" at 185. Still, Adesanya is a standout talent and has been able to make the necessary adjustments against everyone he has faced at middleweight. Adesanya may have to survive some scary moments and one punch could change the entire fight, but Cannonier isn't necessarily a more dangerous opponent than anyone else Adesanya has managed to handle. It's easy to see this looking a lot like the champ's fight with Paulo Costa, using slick countering and technique to offset the brute force and aggression of a challenger.
Mahjouri: Adesanya is entering a sphere of success that makes him almost impossible to deny. He is the best all-around striking-oriented fighter in the UFC. Cannonier wields destructive power and can follow blueprints laid by Robert Whittaker and Jan Blachowicz to give Adesanya a competitive fight. Cannonier is not the wrestling threat that Whittaker or Blachowicz are, but he can employ Whittaker's strategy on the feet. Cannonier told reporters at media day that he needs to utilize enough of his skills at an optimal level to overcome Adesanya's overall striking advantage. Adesanya's understanding of range and feints have shadowed over the middleweight division for four years. Adesanya will most likely avoid Cannonier's power while picking him apart on the feet.
Volkanovski vs. Holloway
Campbell: Both Holloway and Volkanovski have predicted that this potentially historic third meeting between two of the greatest featherweight champions won't go the distance,to have in order to finally create some separation after two close fights. The problem for "Blessed" might end up just being that Volkanovski is a better fighter today, after a pair of title defenses against Brian Ortega and Chan Sung Jung, than he was in the first two meetings against Holloway. Can the former champion say the same? That depends upon how much stock you put into the damage Holloway consumed en route to edging Yair Rodriguez in their thriller late last year. Volkanovski has simply had an answer for every move Holloway has made throughout their two-fight series, particularly in their rematch, when "Alexander The Great" rallied from being dropped twice early to sweep the championship rounds on two scorecards. No one adjusts on the fly quite like Volkanovski. So the idea of him engaging in an action fight with Holloway and still winning isn't all that harrowing when one considers the grit and recuperative ability he flashed against Ortega or the offensive attack he put on "The Korean Zombie." Sometimes, another fighter simply has your number.
Brookhouse: Volkanovski hasn't had an easy time in the previous fights with Holloway, but he has had the right answers when he has needed them. There's no easy path to victory for either man, of course. It is just simply a matter of Volkanovski having a touch better skills for the matchup head-to-head than Holloway, which has been proven twice over. Holloway will have his moments and will likely nick a round or two, but Volkanovski just always does one or two more things to edge out rounds against Holloway. Styles make fights, as the old saying goes, and we've seen how the styles make fights between these two already. Why go away from past results unless there's proof you should?
Wise: While Brent is right in that a person with an advantage over 10 rounds should be favored when they meet a third time, there is just something about Holloway that is hard to bet against in this spot. He's one of the smartest and best prepared fighters in the sport. He also does well when he goes back to the drawing board to figure out what went wrong from a loss. His win over Yair Rodriguez, when many questioned why he was taking on an unnecessary risk, proved he's still willing to go to battle for everything he's earned. Plus, there is something to Holloway having the full throat of the crowd behind him where Volkanovski has never had to experience being the "bad" guy in the cage. Holloway finally gets past his toughest challenge here.
Strickland vs. Pereira
Campbell: Pereira's power in both hands is legendary from his time as a two-division Glory kickboxing champion, where owns two wins over Adesanya, including one by knockout. UFC president Dana White has already said that Pereira would likely face Adesanya next for the title in just his fourth UFC fight should he defeat Strickland. The only problem with that scenario is that Strickland might have a game that is perfectly suited to nullify such a development. For as explosive as Pereira has looked in two UFC wins, both saw him overly patient at times while navigating a full-time move to a new sport at the highest level. The combination of Strickland's cardio, wrestling prowess and aggressive style could be just what the doctor ordered to speed up the clock over three rounds while showing how much more seasoning Pereira will actually need to justify fighting for the title.
Wise: Strickland is clearly the more well-rounded fighter with more paths to victory in this matchup. Pereira's power, much like Cannonier, is the ultimate equalizer, though. For Strickland to win this fight, he needs to make it as ugly as possible by wrestling and grappling the former Glory Kickboxing champion and staying out of range of those devastating punches and kicks. The problem is that to get inside to secure a takedown, Strickland will need to walk through some of that fire. Expect Pereira, who has kept his stone cold demeanor all week while Strickland has played to the crowds, to connect on those power combinations and put himself into title contention.
Who wins Adesanya vs. Cannonier? And what other picks do you need to see? Visit SportsLine now to get detailed top picks on UFC 276, all from the insider who's up more than $10,000 on MMA picks the past two years, and find out.