MMAOB staff writer Adam Martin takes a deeper look at the main event of UFC 276, a five-round middleweight title bout between champion Israel Adesanya and challenger Jared Cannonier. The event takes place on Saturday, July 2 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Israel Adesanya (-380)
Adesanya (22-1) is the UFC middleweight champion. The 32-year-old New Zealander is 11-1 overall in the UFC with a perfect 11-0 record at 185lbs. He has fought and defeated many of the best middleweights on the planet including Robert Whittaker twice, Marvin Vettori twice, and Paulo Costa, among others. Adesanya is one of the best strikers in the sport regardless of weight class and he is also improving his grappling. He has turned into an incredibly well-rounded fighter who has the ability to knock anyone out in the division. He has nearly cleaned out middleweight, but he still has to get past Cannonier, one of the last contenders left standing in his way.
Jared Cannonier (+310)
Cannonier (15-5) is the No. 2 ranked middleweight contender in the UFC. The 38-year-old American has been in the UFC since 2015 and he has gone 8-4 since then while competing in three different weight classes. Since 2018, Cannonier has fought exclusively at 185lbs and he has racked up a 5-1 record during that stretch with notable wins over Derek Brunson, Kelvin Gastelum, Jack Hermansson, and Anderson Silva, with his lone defeat in the weight class to Robert Whittaker. Cannonier is a dangerous fighter who prefers to stand and trade on the feet. He has great striking and big power and he has used it to knock out a number of high-level opponents. He’s one of the oldest middleweights on the roster, but he is still incredibly dangerous in his fights. If he can bring that danger against Adesanya, he could potentially pull off the upset.
Fight Breakdown: While Cannonier has been on a nice run as of late, he doesn’t really bring anything to the table that Adesanya hasn’t seen before. Adesanya is the superior striker in this matchup and he should be able to use his length and reach to keep Cannonier at a distance and pick him apart on the feet. The biggest question for me is whether or not Adesanya wins the decision or gets a knockout in this fight. Cannonier is tough as hell, but he has been dropped several times in his last few fights, even in his wins. It feels like Adesanya is going to be able to knock him down at some point during the fight, and the question is whether or not he can pounce on him and score the finish. It’s tough to say if it’s by knockout or decision, but I fully expect Adesanya to win. He is simply the best middleweight on the planet right now, and given his advantages in the striking, the length and reach, the age, and the fact he’s been a dominant champion at 185lbs, it’s hard not to think that he will have enough in his bag of tricks in order to beat Cannonier.
Prediction: Israel Adesanya