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UFC 276 predictions

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UFC 276 could be the biggest pay-per-view event of the year.

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That doesn’t take away some of the great headliners and championship fights we’ve seen over the past six months, but on paper it’s hard to beat a card featuring three of the top six fighters in the world. . Those three are Israel Adesanya (No. 2), who is making his fifth defense of his middleweight title in the main event, and Alexander Volkanovski (No. 3) and Max Holloway (No. 6), who are fighting for the world title for the third time. featherweight title in the co-main event.

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Adesanya promised to perform a miracle against Jared Cannonier, but like his spiritual predecessor Anderson Silva, The Last Magician needs the right dance partner to bring out the best in him. If Cannonier pierces Adesanya’s aura and takes the fight to him, we can see any of the fighters throw a spectacular punch; if Cannonier is overly respectful, we could end up with a fight that looks more like Adesanya vs. Romero (sorry for bringing this up).

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Much less disappointing is the trilogy between Volkanovski and Holloway. Their second encounter, while controversial when it came to scoring, became an instant classic that cemented both men as the best at 145lbs, and their performances haven’t dented their reputation since. Volkanovski won an epic battle with Brian Ortega and then crushed the Korean Zombie while Holloway held the net against two top 10 contenders Calvin Kattar and Yair Rodriguez to take Volkanovski one more time.

A Holloway victory could lead to a fourth meeting between the two, but let’s not look too far ahead. Instead, let’s just take a breath and appreciate that we got to see the best of the best of the best just one more time.

And there’s the rest of the loaded main card, which sees Sean Strickland and Alex Pereira face off in a matchup that could determine the next middleweight title contender, welterweights Robbie Lawler and Brian Barberena get booked in a sure-footed slugfest, and veteran bantamweight Pedro Munkhoz . seeking to humble the popular Sean O’Malley.

Which: UFC 276

Where: T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas

When: Saturday, July 2 on ESPN and ESPN+ at 6:00 pm ET, followed by a four-fight tryout on ABC, ESPN and ESPN+ at 8:00 pm ET. The five-battle main map starts at 10:00 PM ET and is available exclusively on ESPN+ pay-per-view.

(Numbers in brackets indicate that Global ranking of MMA fights)

Israel Adesanya (1) vs. Jared Cannonier (4)

I have a bad feeling about this.

Look, I’m glad Israel Adesanya and Jared Cannonier are saying the right things. The champ wants to add to his list of highlights by taking down a worthy opponent in Jared Cannonier, and Cannonier has made it clear he doesn’t care about Adesanya’s supposed greatness. He’s here to win fights and if you pay attention to what Cannonier has done lately, he’s pretty good at it!

Cannonier is more than a contender with only a chance of a knockout. He has great kicks, solid wrestling and, yes, enough power to make Adesanya think twice before trading with him. Adesanya has a clear advantage in speed and reach, but Cannonier has proven he can take a hit, which he may have to do to close the distance. I’m not suggesting that he become a complete Gastelum, but a little carelessness might do him good.

However, Adesanya’s technical flair will be on full display today and I fully expect him to shoot Cannonier for five rounds and not take unnecessary risks. Adesanya has the skills to lead the dance, so why should he break the rhythm? Winning on points is as good as any other method and Adesanya won’t shy away from it.

Cannonier can make it interesting if he fights a little more recklessly than usual, but I’m predicting a comfortable decision win for Adesanya.

To choose: Adesanya

Alexander Volkanovski (1) vs. Max Holloway (2)

The second fight between Alexander Volkanovski and Max Holloway was so close that it’s easy to see how The Blessed can finally earn this elusive victory over Volkanovski.

Holloway was one round away from winning the rematch after stunning Volkanovski in rounds 1 and 2. We know he can touch Volkanovski’s chin. We know he can cut a pace that few can match. Does he have additional gear that we haven’t seen yet? Maybe. He will be needed.

First-class not only Volkanovski’s chin, but also his protection. That’s why it was so unusual when Holloway stunned him. Twice. But like all great champions, Volkanovski is adapting and I’m sure the 10 rounds he’s already caged with Holloway has given him a wealth of information to prepare for everything Holloway has to offer. Apart from those scary moments in the rematch, Volkanovski rarely hit the mark.

You don’t score for defense, but it keeps you alive, and that’s the most important factor for Volkanovski, especially during the first three rounds. He can’t fall behind early because there’s a feeling that if Holloway smells blood this time, he’ll pick up the pace until Volkanovski is knocked out. Holloway won’t leave anything in the tank.

Even then, the best version of Volkanovski could win here. He is more precise and stronger than ever, peaking at the right time both mentally and physically. This time, Volkanovski is going to shock everyone by hurting Holloway and leaving little room for controversy. That’s not to say it won’t be competitive as an injured Holloway is a dangerous Holloway and you can bet he’ll break until the very end.

Volkanovskiy decision.

To choose: Volkanovskiy

Sean Strickland (8) vs. Alex Pereira

Don’t look now, but Sean Strickland is about to mix up some martial arts.

While it is possible that Strickland will win an amazing fight against Alex Pereira, a two-division Glory kickboxing champion, he is not paid extra to test this theory. If he can knock Pereira down, or at least choke him against the fence, he should. Otherwise, he simply asks to have his head broken.

Pereira has shown decent takedown defense in his short MMA career and he’s also big enough to work, but I think Strickland can wear him down if he puts a lot of focus on wrestling. It’s going to be ugly and resentful, but if you’re Strickland, you should be focused on winning and scheduling an increasingly intriguing matchup with Adesanya (assuming Adesanya takes care of things in the main event). Other than that, avoid Pereira’s clinch, mix it inside whenever you can, and put it on your back.

For Pereira, it’s simple: keep it going and you’ll win. As mentioned, Strickland is a great striker, but one cannot ignore the high level of kickboxing that Pereira brings to all of his fights. “Poatan” finds by knockout or wins by decision if Strickland fights him in a standing position. I think Strickland is fighting smart and taking the points and the win.

To choose: Strickland

Robbie Lawler vs. Brian Barberena

Another day, another UFC legend stands in front of him and wants to send him into oblivion.

Think Brian Barberena is already having fun?

“Bam-Bam” may never make it into the top 10 welterweight rankings, and I’m guessing that doesn’t mean a damn thing to him anyway. As long as he is allowed to enter the cage and swing freely against guys like Robbie Lawler and Matt Brown, he is a happy man. On Saturday, he’ll have plenty of opportunities to swap bombs with Lawler.

Although he recently turned 40, Lawler is still one of the worst punchers in the division, and for good reason. The former UFC champion combines high-level technique with natural power that has made him a fan favorite for two decades. Barberena is hard to knock out, but if anyone can do it, it’s Lawler.

It’s definitely tempting to go here with Lawler, especially if you think Barberena can just stand there and call him to shoot. I prefer to believe that Barberena will use a bit of strategy and at least try to avoid one out of every, say, 10 punches or so. Until he eats a full bowl of mowers in the first round, Barberena should have a cardio advantage and aim to increase the pace within 15 minutes. It’s not that cardio is a big deal for Lawler, but years of war have taken their toll on him, and Barberena’s clearest path to victory is to see how much Ruthless is left.

Barberena takes the win and both guys probably get their well-deserved 50 G bonus.

To choose: barberena

Pedro Munoz vs. Sean O’Malley

Check out the lineup of killers Munoz has faced in his last six fights: Dominick Cruz, Jose Aldo, Jimmy Rivera, Frankie Edgar, Aljamain Sterling and Cody Garbrandt. The fact that Munoz was able to save two wins from that chart (and almost three, depending on how you scored the Edgar fight) is a small miracle. So Munoz’s supposed decline is misleading.

By far, he is the biggest test for Sean O’Malley, even more than Marlon Vera. Keep in mind that Munoz also fought Rob Font and Rafael Assuncao. The level of difficulty he competed on is a different world from what O’Malley has faced so far.

None of this will matter when it’s just the two of them in the cage, and I love it when O’Malley continues to silence doubters. He is not as versatile as Munoz, but his best skill is better than Munoz’s and as long as he keeps it on his feet, he will be a problem for the Brazilian veteran. His ground game is also underestimated, so he can stay out of trouble…


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