Originally published at UFC 276 Report: Israel Adesanya retains, Alexander Volkanovski is dominant
UFC 276 Report: Israel Adesanya defeats Jared Cannonier, Volkanovski wins third fight against Holloway
By: Eric Marcotte
On Saturday night, UFC 276 took place from the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada. The card was headlined by a pair of title fights, with Israel Adesanya attempting to defend his UFC Middleweight Championship against Jared Cannonier in the main event. Adesanya has been dominant at middleweight, with an 11-0 UFC record in the division, and four successful title defenses. Cannonier is one of the few opponents at the top of the middleweight division that Adesanya had yet to face, and after a stoppage win over Derek Brunson, it was decided that Cannonier would be Adesanya’s next challenger. The other title fight on this card featured UFC Featherweight Champion, Alexander Volkanovski, looking to defend his title against the division’s former champion, Max Holloway. Holloway and Volkanovski have fought twice previously, with Volkanovski ultimately winning both bouts by decision. The second fight was particularly close, and after strong wins against Calvin Kattar and Yair Rodriguez, Holloway earned himself a third shot at Volkanovski.
The commentary team for this card consisted of Jon Anik, Joe Rogan, and Daniel Cormier. Performance of the Night bonuses were awarded to Alex Pereira, Jalin Turner, and Julija Stoliarenko. Fight of the Night bonuses went out to Bryan Barberena and Robbie Lawler.
*Julija Stoliarenko def. Jessica-Rose Clark by armbar at 0:42 of Round 1
*Maycee Barber def. Jessica Eye by unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28)
*Andre Muniz def. Uriah Hall by unanimous decision (30-27 all)
*Dricus du Plessis def. Brad Tavares by unanimous decision (29-28 all)
*Ian Garry def. Gabriel Green by unanimous decision (30-27 all)
*Jim Miller def. Donald Cerrone by guillotine choke at 1:32 of Round 2
*Jalin Turner def. Brad Riddell by guillotine choke at 0:45 of Round 1
*Pedro Munhoz vs. Sean O’Malley resulted in a no-contest due an inadvertent eye poke at 3:09 of Round 2
*Bryan Barberena def. Robbie Lawler by TKO at 4:47 of Round 2
*Alex Pereira def. Sean Strickland by KO at 2:36 of Round 1
*Alexander Volkanovski def. Max Holloway by unanimous decision (50-45 all) to retain the UFC Featherweight Championship
*Israel Adesanya def. Jared Cannonier by unanimous decision (49-46, 49-46, 50-45) to retain the UFC Middleweight Championship
JIM MILLER (34-16, 1 NC, 170.5) VS DONALD CERRONE (36-16, 2 NC, 170.5) – WELTERWEIGHT
Cerrone began the fight with a pair of body kicks, which prompted Miller to flurry forward with a combination of punches. Cerrone landed a strong leg kick, before the fighters traded hooks in the pocket. Cerrone was doing a good job of utilizing his advantage in size, keeping Miller at range, but eventually, Miller was able to take him to the ground after catching a leg kick. Miller lost his positioning, and Cerrone took top position, but Miller constantly threatened Cerrone with submission attempts off of his back, preventing Cerrone from doing much with the position. Cerrone attempted a heel hook just as time in the round expired.
Early in round two, Cerrone caught Miller with a head kick, but both men were knocked off balance as a result, and Miller capitalized, rushing forwards and catching Cerrone in a guillotine choke. The choke was locked in tight, and Cerrone was forced to submit.
WINNER: Jim Miller by guillotine choke at 1:32 of Round 2
Miller and Cerrone fought many years ago at a UFC Fight Night event in July of 2014, a fight that Cerrone won by second-round knockout. Cerrone found similar success in this bout with his kicks, but this time, Miller was able to weather the storm, and ultimately take the fight to the ground. Even in 2022, Donald Cerrone is not an easy fighter to submit, but Miller did just that with this second-round guillotine choke, and as a result, he became just the second fighter to submit Donald Cerrone in his MMA career. After defeating Cerrone here, Miller moved into sole possession of the all-time record for wins in the UFC, with a total of 24 victories in the promotion.
After the fight, Cerrone left his hat and gloves in the octagon and announced his retirement from mixed martial arts. He stated that his passion for the sport isn’t there anymore and that he would like to transition to acting. Cerrone was one of the most entertaining fighters of his era, and will be remembered for his constant activity, once fighting five times in a single year. He holds wins over the likes of Charles Oliveira, Eddie Alvarez, and Benson Henderson, and once challenged for the UFC Lightweight Championship. If this was indeed Cerrone’s final fight, he will retire with a professional record of 36-17, 2 NC.
BRAD RIDDELL (10-2, 155.5) VS JALIN TURNER (12-5, 155.5) – LIGHTWEIGHT
Turner cracked Riddell with a right hand early, and Riddell shot for a takedown in response. Turner immediately locked in a guillotine choke, and Riddell was forced to submit.
WINNER: Jalin Turner by guillotine choke at 0:45 of Round 1
Jalin Turner has looked incredible throughout his last few fights, and this was his biggest win yet. He hurt Riddell quickly on the feet, and submitted him just moments later, becoming the first fighter to submit Brad Riddell in the UFC. It was a fantastic performance, and he will be ranked fighter when the rankings are updated later this week. Turner is now on a five-fight win streak, and he has finished each of those opponents.
PEDRO MUNHOZ (19-7, 1 NC, 135.5) VS SEAN O’MALLEY (15-1, 135) – BANTAMWEIGHT
This fight kicked off the main card portion of the event.
Munhoz was very active with leg kicks throughout the opening minutes of the fight. O’Malley was able to check a number of them and responded with some leg kicks of his own. A right hand over the top landed for O’Malley, but then a kick caught Munhoz in the groin, resulting in a pause in the action. Munhoz continued to actively attack the leg as the fight resumed, but he missed a spinning head kick attempt before time in the round expired.
O’Malley connected with another right hand early in round two. Munhoz did not adjust his gameplan in the second round, as he continued to attack the lead leg of O’Malley. O’Malley inadvertently grazed the eyes of Pedro Munhoz with less than two minutes remaining in the round, and ultimately, Munhoz was unable to recover. As a result, the doctor was brought in to check on Munhoz, and ultimately, the fight was stopped.
Result: No Contest due an inadvertent eye poke at 3:09 of Round 2
This was certainly an unfortunate ending to what was one of the more intriguing fights on this card. Munhoz was having a ton of success attacking the lead leg of O’Malley, and really limited O’Malley’s output as a result. To O’Malley’s credit, he did a good job of checking the leg kicks of Munhoz and seemed to be fighting his range before the fight-ending eye poke. I would not be opposed to this fight being run back in the future, although I think it’s more likely that the UFC will move in a different direction for O’Malley’s next bout.
ROBBIE LAWLER (29-15, 1 NC, 171) VS BRYAN BARBERENA (17-8, 170.5) – WELTERWEIGHT
Lawler attacked the body early, mixing in heavy left hands to the head whenever Barberena dropped his guard. Barberena worked his jab in response, but he was getting tagged by some big shots early in this fight. Lawler connected with a huge uppercut, but Barberena was able to stay on his feet. Barberena started attacking the body as well, and he was mixing in some short elbows over Lawler’s guard. Lawler landed another strong uppercut but was caught by an elbow in return moments later. Fun round.
Lawler began the second round with a pair of powerful jabs. Barberena ate a big left hand from Lawler, and flurried forward with a short combination of strikes. Barberena was continuously tagging Lawler at the end of his combinations with looping left hands. Lawler seemed to be a step ahead of Barberena at this point in the bout, but Barberena caught Lawler with a right hand that rocked him, and he went on the attack, turning this fight into a brawl. Lawler was swinging back with heavy shots, but he was clearly still hurt, and Barberena didn’t let up. Eventually, Barberena’s volume was too much for Lawler, and the fight was stopped as Barberena teed off on Lawler against the cage.
WINNER: Bryan Barberena by TKO at 4:47 of Round 2
Despite being forty years of age, Lawler is still a solid fighter, and he brought the fight to Bryan Barberena here. Lawler pressured forward throughout the vast majority of the fight, and he certainly found success when he went on the attack, but Barberena was able to withstand Lawler’s power, and eventually overwhelmed him with his own activity. While it was a big right hand that led to the finish, I thought that Barberena’s best weapon throughout the fight were the lead elbows that he was landing regularly, that were always finding their target.
SEAN STRICKLAND (25-3, 185.5) VS ALEX PEREIRA (5-1, 184.5) – MIDDLEWEIGHT
Strickland was marching forward with his hands low, very much engaging Pereira on the feet here. Pereira landed a number of leg kicks, as well as some jabs to the body. A big left hook from Pereira rocked Strickland, and he immediately followed it up with a right hand that knocked Strickland out.
WINNER: Alex Pereira by KO at 2:36 of Round 1
Pereira is a talented striker, as well as a very heavy hitter, and Sean Strickland fought a fight that played directly into Pereira’s strengths. This was a huge highlight finish for Pereira, which is exactly what the UFC was hoping for when they matched him up against such a highly ranked opponent. Strickland came into this fight as the fourth-ranked middleweight contender, and Pereira was unranked, with a 2-0 record in the promotion. After beating Strickland, Pereira will be catapulted to the top of the rankings, and in all likelihood, he will fight Israel Adesanya next, a man who Pereira holds two wins over in the world of kickboxing.
ALEXANDER VOLKANOVSKI (24-1, 144.5) VS MAX HOLLOWAY (23-6, 144.5) – UFC FEATHERWEIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP
This marked the third fight between Volkanovski and Holloway, with Volkanovski winning both of their prior fights (in December of 2019 and July of 2020 respectively) by decision.
Volkanovski landed the first big strike of the fight, a heavy right hand. Volkanovski was doing a good job of catching Holloway on his way in, and seemed to be landing the better strikes whenever they exchanged punches in the pocket. Volkanovski told Holloway that he’s just to quick for him, before landing a pair of big shots as they broke away from a clinch exchange. A heavy left hand from Volkanovski found its target, and he began to attack the body of Holloway as well. Holloway landed his best strikes of the round in its final minute, but this was still a very clear round for Volkanovski. 10-9 Volkanovski.
Holloway attempted to pressure forward in round two, however, Volkanovski was beating him to the punch constantly, moving in, landing his shots, and getting out of range before Holloway could respond. Volkanovski tagged Holloway with a heavy elbow after Holloway successfully defended a takedown attempt, and then landed a right hand that opened up a nasty cut above the left eye of Holloway. Volkanovski’s leg kicks were starting to add up as well, getting reactions out of Holloway whenever he snuck one in at the end of his combinations. 20-18 Volkanovski.
Volkanovski worked his jab to begin the third round before he started going back to the body. Holloway was throwing more kicks in this round, but Volkanovski did a good job of avoiding Holloway’s bigger shots, while continuing to do significant damage with his jab and short hooks. Holloway defended a takedown attempt from Volkanovski but ate a big spinning elbow as they broke from the clinch. A huge right hand from Volkanovski found its target late in the round. 30-27 Volkanovski.
Holloway’s face was a bloody mess by the fourth round. Both of his eyes were somewhat compromised due to the cut above his left eye, and Volkanovski’s jab that was damaging his right eye. Holloway was in need of a finish by this point in the fight, but Volkanovski continued to control this fight, out landing Holloway on the strike count, while doing significantly more damage as well. Holloway did connect with a good right hand towards the end of the round, but Volkanovski was able to block the follow-up head kick attempt, and this was yet another dominant round for the champion. 40-36 Volkanovski.
Holloway’s corner stressed to him between rounds that he needed to finish Volkanovski in order to win this fight, which was definitely the right message to send him going into the final round. Volkanovski slapped Holloway with a head kick roughly a minute into the round and was able to control him against the cage for some time. Volkanovski connected with some powerful right hands, and it’s a testament to the strength of Holloway’s chin that he managed to remain on his feet. Holloway tried to flurry forward, but he was swinging at air, and the fight ultimately went the distance. 50-45 Volkanovski.
WINNER: Alexander Volkanovski by unanimous decision (50-45 all) to retain the UFC Featherweight Championship
The first two bouts between these two fighters were very close, competitive fights, but this third fight was anything but. Alexander Volkanovski dominated Max Holloway on the feet for twenty-five minutes, out landing him by a considerable amount, while dishing out significantly more damage. This was truly a phenomenal performance from Volkanovski, and at this point, he has solidified his status as an all-time great at featherweight. There are still plenty of challengers for Volkanovski at featherweight, but Volkanovski has made it clear that he is looking to challenge for the lightweight championship in the future, so I would not be shocked to see him move up to 155lbs while the next challenger at 145lbs is determined. For Max Holloway, a third loss to Volkanovski effectively eliminates him from title contention as long as Volkanovski is champion, and Holloway may be forced to move up to lightweight himself if his goal is to be a UFC champion once more.
ISRAEL ADESANYA (22-1, 183.5) VS JARED CANNONIER (15-5, 184.5) – UFC MIDDLEWEIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP
The fighters did not touch gloves to begin the main event. Neither fighter was terribly active early in this bout, but Adesanya had the slight edge in activity, chipping away at the lead leg of Cannonier, while mixing in body kicks. Cannonier landed a few leg kicks of his own throughout the round, but Adesanya’s seemed to be more impactful, and he likely won this round. 10-9 Adesanya.
Adesanya continued to attack the lead leg of Cannonier in the second round, and Cannonier was having trouble getting going offensively. The crowd had begun to voice their displeasure at the pace of this fight, but that did not prompt either man to adjust their strategy. An inadvertent eye poke to Cannonier led to a pause in the action, but Cannonier was able to continue. Adesanya’s jab found its target enough times to cause some swelling around the right eye of Cannonier. Adesanya stared Cannonier down and taunted him to end the round. 20-18 Adesanya.
Adesanya defended a takedown attempt from Cannonier, before tagging him with another hard jab. While Adesanya continued to defend Cannonier’s attempts at bringing the fight to the ground, Cannonier found a bit of success by catching the champion with some heavy hooks during their clinch exchanges. Cannonier was slightly more active throughout this round, and that was probably enough to earn him the third round on the scorecards. 29-28 Adesanya.
Another jab from Adesanya snapped Cannonier’s head back early in round four. They exchanged body shots before Adesanya landed yet another hard jab, which was quickly becoming his most effective weapon in this fight. Cannonier attempted to take the fight to the ground, but Adesanya’s takedown defense continued to hold up. Cannonier landed a few heavy right hands throughout the round, but the strikes did not seem to damage Adesanya significantly. This was a close round, but I gave the edge to Adesanya. 39-37 Adesanya.
Cannoniers corner informed him that he was in need of a finish between rounds, and urged him to throw strikes in combination. Adesanya’s feints continued to give Cannonier hesitation, however, and Adesanya remained the more active fighter on the feet. Cannonier attempted to take Adesanya to the ground one more time but was unable to complete the takedown. Cannonier flurried forward in the final minute of the fight, catching Adesanya with a right hand at one point, but the fight ultimately went the distance, and this was another fairly clear round for Adesanya. 49-46 Adesanya.
WINNER: Israel Adesanya by unanimous decision (49-46, 49-46, 50-45) to retain the UFC Middleweight Championship
This was not the most entertaining fight. The pace of the bout was very slow, and Adesanya was just a step ahead of Cannonier for the vast majority of it. Cannonier was able to create some opportunities for himself whenever he flurried forward and fought his way into the clinch, but Adesanya was always able to defend his takedown attempts, and ultimately did not take much significant damage. This marked Adesanya’s fifth successful title defense, and his UFC record now stands at an impressive 12-1, with that one loss coming at light heavyweight. Adesanya called out Alex Pereira after the fight, and that will likely be his next title defense.