Israel Adesanya kept his dominant run as UFC Middleweight Champion alive on Saturday night, cruising to a unanimous decision victory over Jared Cannonier.
The win headlined UFC 276 from the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada, USA.
Adesanya’s win came from his ability to out-land Cannonier throughout.
The champion blocked takedown attempts from Cannonier in the fight and frequently landed his strikes during stand-up exchanges. The best position Cannonier was able to get was a clinch, although he didn’t do much after entering this position.
Cannonier was never visibly hurt by strikes from Adesanya throughout the five rounds of action, although it was clear by the end of the fight who was ahead on scorecards due to the connected strikes adding up.
Cannonier was making his first title fight appearance. He has fought at the top of the middleweight division in recent years, earning wins over names like Kelvin Gastelum, Derek Brunson and Jack Hermansson.
Adesanya has now defended his middleweight belt five times since first earning it in 2019. His previous appearance was earlier this year, when he beat former titleholder Robert Whittaker in a rematch.
After his win, Adesanya set his sights on rising middleweight Alex Pereira, a name who won earlier in the evening. The two have history, as Pereira notably beat Adesanya under kickboxing rules in the past.
Volkanovski Shuts Out Holloway, Wins Trilogy Fight At Featherweight
UFC Featherweight Champion Alexander Volkanovski put an end to his rivalry against Max Holloway on Saturday night, beating him for the third time and sweeping scorecards in a unanimous decision win.
Volkanovski took every round on all three scorecards this weekend, marking the most dominant performance out of his three matchups against Holloway.
A stellar striking performance from Volkanovski earned him the victory. Holloway was the advancing fighter for most of the bout, although Volkanovski was the fighter who connected with an overwhelming amount of the shots that landed in the fight.
Damage accumulated for Holloway throughout the fight. The biggest cut on him was on the left eyebrow, which opened in the second round. On the other hand, Volkanovski didn’t show much damage after 25 minutes of action.
The two previous fights between Volkanovski and Holloway were significantly closer than the outcome this weekend.
Holloway was given the trilogy fight against Volkanovski after a strong 2021. He had a pair of stellar main event wins last year, defeating Calvin Kattar and Yair Rodriguez in five-round unanimous decision outcomes.
Volkanovski has now defended his belt four times in total. He first earned the championship in 2019, dethroning Holloway with a decision win. He has since gone the distance in three of his four title defenses, prevailing in all of the fights.
Following his win, Volkanovski set his sights on moving up to lightweight to claim a second championship.
“I don’t think this division itself can keep me busy,” said Volkanovski in his post-fight interview. “I want to move up, go for double champ [status], and I’ll keep two divisions busy.”
Pereira Stops Strickland Early For Big Win
Former GLORY Kickboxing Champion Alex Pereira shot up the middleweight rankings on Saturday night, scoring an early finish victory against Sean Strickland for his third UFC win.
Pereira dropped Strickland early to begin his finishing sequence. He earned a knockdown with a clean left hook that visibly rocked Strickland. Pereira followed up on this with a right straight to a grounded Strickland, dropping him to his back and causing the referee to end the fight.
Pereira, an accomplished kickboxer, has now earned a trio of wins since joining the UFC roster in November 2021. Previous victories came against Andreas Michailidis and Bruno Silva.
Pereira, previously unranked, is now expected to crash the rankings in UFC’s middleweight division. Strickland entered this fight in fourth place at 185-pounds, meaning Pereira could be at least top-five middleweight once the standings are updated.
Pereira has a marketable background with current UFC Middleweight Champion Israel Adesanya, as he has notably defeated him twice under kickboxing rules.
The sudden stoppage loss for Strickland on Saturday night put an end to his strong run as of late. He had scored five wins since 2020, including two in the main event spot of UFC cards.
Barberena Stops Lawler In The Second To End Brawl
In a performance that was nothing short of a brawl, Bryan Barberena picked up a second-round stoppage victory against Robbie Lawler.
Barberena visibly hurt Lawler in the second round with a hook to the head. He followed up on this moment up against the cage, continuing to land left and right hooks until the referee stepped in to end the fight.
The welterweights exchanged hard shots earlier in the fight. Barberena and Lawler both frequently connected with punches, making it a hard bout to call before the finish.
The fair amount of strikes that Barberena consumed were visible on his face after the fight finished.
Saturday’s event continued recent struggles for Lawler. The veteran has now lost four of his last five fights. His last win was in 2021 when he beat returning name Nick Diaz.
Barberena is now on a three-fight winning streak. Previous wins in the run came against Darian Weeks and Matt Brown.
Eye Poke Forces O’Malley vs. Munhoz To End In No Contest
Sean O’Malley’s campaign up the bantamweight ranks hit a road bump this weekend, as an anticipated step-up challenge against Pedro Munhoz ended in a no contest.
The fight came to an end due to an eye poke hurting Munhoz in the second round.
Munhoz received an eye poke while O’Malley was backing up during an exchange. O’Malley had his hands out and forward in defense of an advancing Munhoz, although this caused the eye poke to happen.
Munhoz mentioned to a referee and doctor how the eye poke hurt his vision, causing the bout to end.
The fight was a slow-paced, close striking battle prior to the finish.
O’Malley was hoping to extend his winning streak with this fight. The rising bantamweight had a trio of strong performances last year, finishing all of his opponents due to strikes.
Munhoz was easily the toughest name that O’Malley has faced before. He was aiming to snap a two-fight skid that he took against Jose Aldo and Dominick Cruz in 2021.
The Rest of the Card
Jalin Turner scored his fourth consecutive finish victory on Saturday night, stopping Brad Riddell in just 45 seconds with a mounted guillotine choke.
Jim Miller, the most experienced fighter in UFC history, picked up another win this weekend. He scored a second-round submission against fellow veteran Donald Cerrone, catching him with a guillotine choke. After the fight, Cerrone announced his retirement – calling an end to a storied career that includes 38 UFC appearances.
Ian Machado Garry remained undefeated in his third UFC appearance, going three rounds against Gabe Green for a unanimous decision victory.
Dricus Du Plessis prevailed in a three-round striking battle against Brad Tavares, cutting and bruising him on his way to a unanimous decision win.
Andre Muniz kept his strong climb up the middleweight division going during the prelims, defeating Uriah Hall via unanimous decision. Muniz has now picked up five consecutive wins since joining the UFC roster in 2019.
Maycee Barber used her striking to pick up a unanimous decision win over Jessica Eye. After taking her fourth consecutive pro loss, Eye announced her retirement from MMA.
Julija Stoliarenko had a quick performance for her first UFC win, catching Jessica-Rose Clark in just 42 seconds with an armbar. The bout snapped a three-fight skid for Stoliarenko.
Main Card (10:00PM EDT / 7:00PM PDT) (PPV)
Bout 12: Israel Adesanya def. Jared Cannonier via Decision, Unanimous (UFC Middleweight Championship)
Bout 11: Alexander Volkanovski def. Max Holloway via Decision, Unanimous (UFC Featherweight Championship)
Bout 10: Alex Pereira def. Sean Strickland via TKO, Strikes (RD 1, 2:36)
Bout 9: Bryan Barberena def. Robbie Lawler via TKO, Strikes (RD 2, 4:47)
Bout 8: Pedro Munhoz vs. Sean O’Malley via No Contest, Eye Poke (RD 2, 3:09)
Preliminary Card (8:00PM EDT / 5:00PM PDT) (ABC / TSN 5)
Bout 7: Jalin Turner def. Brad Riddell via Submission, Guillotine Choke (RD 1, 0:45)
Bout 6: Jim Miller def. Donald Cerrone via Submission, Guillotine Choke (RD 2, 1:32)
Bout 5: Ian Machado Garry def. Gabe Green via Decision, Unanimous
Bout 4: Dricus Du Plessis def. Brad Tavares via Decision, Unanimous
Early Prelims (6:00PM EDT / 3:00PM PDT) (ESPN+ / UFC Fight Pass)
Bout 3: Andre Muniz def. Uriah Hall via Decision, Unanimous
Bout 2: Maycee Barber def. Jessica Eye via Decision, Unanimous
Bout 1: Julija Stoliarenko def. Jessica-Rose Clark via Submission, Armbar (RD 1, 0:42)