UFC 276: Champions Adesanya, Volkanovski cruise to title defenses

Steve Marcus

UFC middleweight champion Israel Adesanya is declared the winner over Jared Cannonier
during UFC 276 at T-Mobile Arena Saturday July 2, 2022. Adesanya retained his title by unanimous decision.

Updated Saturday, July 2, 2022 | 10:33 p.m.

The pair of championship bouts at UFC 276 Saturday night left no uncertainty.

No one in the sold-out crowd of 19,649 fans exited T-Mobile Arena with any doubt of who won, how they won or what’s next for them. City Kickboxing teammates Israel Adesanya and Alexander Volkanovski both retained their titles with easy wins.

The featherweight Volkanovski was up first, and he finally separated himself from rival Max Holloway with a unanimous-decision victory in which he won every round on all three judges’ scorecards in their third fight against each other. Adesanya was slightly less dominant in defending his middleweight title, dropping one of five rounds on two of three judges’ scorecards but still ultimately taking a unanimous-decision win over Jared Cannonier.

“We know who’s next,” Adesanya said afterwards while still in the octagon.

He was referring to Alex Pereira, the real star of UFC 276. The former kickboxing champion knocked out Sean Strickland with a vicious punching combination at 2:36 of the first round to improve to 3-0 in the UFC and become the top 185-pound contender.

A fight with Adesanya will carry a lot of intrigue considering Pereira knocked out the champion twice in kickboxing. Adesanya says he made mistakes in both fights, mistakes he won’t replicate in mixed martial arts.

“Next time I put you on skates, you’re going to get frozen like Elsa,” Adesanya said as a message to Pereira. “I’ll put it like that.”

Holloway was hardly ever “on skates”, i.e. retreating or backing up, against Volkanovski on Saturday but perhaps for his sake he should have been. He took a tremendous amount of damage, with Volkanovski teeing off to open a big cut on his challenger’s nose in the second round that kept gushing blood throughout.

Holloway couldn’t get his timing down for strikes and had several failed takedown attempts in a desperate attempt to escape punishment from Volkanovski. It didn’t work.

“I knew I was the best,” Volkanovski said. “I just wanted to remind myself.”

Volkanovski said his next plan was to move up to lightweight and challenge either Charles Oliveira or the man who beats him to become a double champion.

“He was trying to bring me down,” Volkanovski said of Holloway. “I stood up for myself and look at me now. No one can bring me down.”

The most action-packed bout of the UFC 276 main card came when Bryan Barberena knocked out former welterweight champion Robbie Lawler at 4:47 of the second round. The veteran Lawler controlled the opening eight minutes of the fight, but then got rocked and backed down by Barberena.

The only lack of resolution came in the main card opener, which was ruled a no-contest when Sean O’Malley accidentally poked Pedro Munhoz in the eye and left him unable to see. The fight was slow developing through a round and a half, not unlike the main event throughout.

But Adesanya did what was necessary to keep his title. Same as Volkanovski.

“They had an excellent game plan,” Adesanya said of Cannonier. “It was really hard to get my follow-ups going, to get my second shots going.”

Read below for live updates from throughout the main card and scroll to the bottom of the page for preliminary-card results.

Israel Adesanya vs. Jared Cannonier

Fifth Round Adesanya didn’t press the action, and he didn’t need to. Cannonier didn’t press the action, and he desperately needed to. Chalk it up as an unmemorable a title defense, but certainly a title defense. Cannonier didn’t do near enough to unseat the champion, even though the final round was close because of lack of activity. Las Vegas Sun scores the final round 10-9 Adesanya to give the champion a 49-46 win. Israel Adesanya officially defeats Jared Cannonier by unanimous decision (50-45, 49-46, 49-46).

Fourth Round The volume stayed in Adesanya’s favor, and this time, Cannonier didn’t have the significant strikes to make up for it. Adesanya built a cushion early in the round by working his jab and leg kicks. Cannonier eventually pressed Adesanya into the cage and rode out in the clench until the end of the round, but didn’t mount enough offense. 10-9 Adesanya to give the champion a 39-37 lead heading into the final round. 

Third Round Well, the fight won’t go down as a total blowout. Cannonier ratcheted up his aggression in the third round, and though he never had Adesanya in trouble, he did have his moments. Cannonier twice pushed Adesanya up against the cage to engage in some dirty boxing. At least on the first occasion, he got the best of it. Adesanya outlanded Cannonier overall, but the challenger had the bigger shots. It could go either way, but Las Vegas Sun scored the third 10-9 Cannonier. 29-28 overall to Adesanya, who’s still in control.

Second Round Cannonier opened up a bit more, but wasn’t really rewarded for it. Sure, he landed some offense but Adesanya had more. The fight is still being contested at Adesanya’s distance. He’s picked Cannonier apart with leg kicks and the occasional jab. It’s not close so far. 10-9 Adesanya, 20-18 overall.

First Round Both fighters are content to fight at range, and that’s a benefit to the champion. Adesanya didn’t have any big moments, but he easily outlanded Cannonier, who seemed to hesitant to engage. Cannonier got one nice punch in early, but then nothing else. Adesanya cruised through the first frame. 10-9 Adesanya.

Alexander Volkanovski vs. Max Holloway

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UFC featherweight champion Alexander Volkanovski celebrates after defeating Max Holloway during UFC 276 at T-Mobile Arena Saturday July 2, 2022. Volkanovski retained his title by unanimous decision.

Volkanovski vs. Holloway will go down as one of the better trilogies in mixed martial arts history, but mostly for the first two fights. Tonight’s third was not nearly as competitive as those two. Volkanovski won for the third consecutive time to defend his featherweight title against Holloway, but there was no room for controversy this time. Volkanovski thoroughly outclassed Holloway throughout, opening a major cut on the former champion’s face in the second round that continually poured out blood for the rest of the fight. Holloway couldn’t find his range to land enough strikes against Volkanovski, and couldn’t come close to taking him down either despite a few late attempts. Las Vegas Sun scored the fight 50-45 in favor of Volkanovski, and the judges agreed. Alexander Volkanovski officially defeated Max Holloway via unanimous decision (50-45, 50-45, 50-45).

Alex Pereira vs. Sean Strickland

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Middleweight fighter Alex Pereia, right, connects with a punch that sends Sean Strickland to the canvas during UFC 276 at T-Mobile Arena Saturday July 2, 2022. Pereia won the bout with a first-round TKO.

First Round Strickland was content to stay on the feet against the former world-champion kickboxer, and paid the price. Pereira caught Strickland early, and followed up with one punch on the ground before the referee stepped in to stop the fight. Pereira officially defeated Strickland at 2:36 of the first round via knockout.

Robbie Lawler vs. Bryan Barberena

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Welterweight fighter Bryan Barberena celebrates after stopping Robbie Lawler in the second round during UFC 276 at T-Mobile Arena Saturday July 2, 2022. Barberena won by TKO.

Second Round Lawler continued to get the best of the exchanges with Barberena unable to match either his output or speed for the first 3:30 of the round. The the tables suddenly turned. Barberena rocked Lawler and sent him into retreat. Barberena’s face was already bloodied, and he had some ground to make up but the fight became a grade-A slugfest with both fighters throwing out caution and trading punches. It was too much for Lawler, who crashed into the cage and had the referee wave off the fight. He might have been out on his feet. Bryan Barberena defeated Robbie Lawler via TKO at 4:45 of the second round.

First Round The first fight of the pay-per-view may have failed to deliver, but the second brought action. Neither Lawler nor Barberena were tooo concerned with defense. They traversed around the cage and exchanged punches. Lawler’s were more significant. Barberena had some combinations and elbows of his own, but Lawler seemed to be doing considerably more damage. Barbererna never appeared in any serious trouble of succumbing to a knockdown — though he did slip once — but Lawler seemed to hit hard enough that it could have happened. 10-9 Lawler.

Pedro Munhoz vs. Sean O’Malley

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Bantamweight fighter Sean O’Malley, right, walks away from Pedro Munhoz after their bout ended in a “no contest” during UFC 276 at T-Mobile Arena Saturday July 2, 2022. The fight was stopped in the second round after Munoz was injured by an accidental eye poke.

Second Round The Not Fight of the Night continues with virtually nothing happening for more than half of the round. Then action abruptly stopped with Munhoz signaling he was poked in the eye. Replay doesn’t immediately reveal the eyepoke, but Munhoz can’t open his left eye. The doctor is called in to check on him, and the fight is stopped. The fight is declared a no contest.

First Round Slow start, as both fighters spent the majority of the round feeling each other out. O’Malley came forward more, but Munhoz was able to land consistent, though not very significant, offense via leg strikes. O’Malley found a few openings with his jab and straight counters. He also landed a wheel kick near the end of the round. Munhoz missed on his own kick near the bell. 10-9 O’Malley but the round could have gone either way with not much activity.

Pre-main card

The UFC 276 main card, which starts minutes from now at T-Mobile Arena, has something for everyone.

It’s topped by two title fights with a pair of champions — middleweight Israel Adesanya and featherweight Alexander Volkanovski — looking to boost their case in the category of all-time greats. Volkanovski will also be closing one of the greatest trilogies in mixed martial arts history against former champion Max Holloway, whom he’s beaten twice and says he will again.

Not everyone is so convinced, as Holloway has his share of supporters who believed he deserved either one or both of the decisions in the first two fights.

But no one in the sold-out building will be waiting with hands folded for the headliners, including Adesanya’s title defense against Jared Cannonier.

Before those two bouts, there’s a potential title eliminator, a showcase of one of the all-time greats and a chance for one of the youngest stars in the sport to shine.

Ultra-popular knockout artist Sean O’Malley gets the first crack at the spotlight when he takes on accomplished bantamweight veteran Pedro Munhoz in his toughest challenge yet.

A slugfest should follow as former welterweight champion Robbie Lawler meets fellow brawler Bryan Barberena in one of the favorites for Fight of the Night.

Then, the winner of Adesanya vs. Cannonier might see its next opponent come out of the middleweight bout between Sean Strickland and Alex Pereira. The former has inches his way up the UFC ranks over the last several years, while the latter made a name for himself as one of the best kickboxers in the world before crossing over into mixed martial arts.

Pereira twice knocked out Adesanya in kickboxing bouts, showing the high level of quality up and down the UFC 276 card.

A similarly stacked undercard preceded the pay-per-view action, and full results are available below. Stay tuned to lasvegassun.com for round-by-round coverage of the main coverage.

Lightweight up-and-comer Jalin Turner dispatched Brad Riddell for his third straight victory as part of a preliminary card at T-Mobile Arena. Turner rocked Riddell on the feet and then swooped in for a guillotine choke to win via submission 45 seconds into the first round.

Jim Miller became the winningest UFC fighter of all-time against fellow legend Donald Cerrone. Miller submitted Cerrone via guillotine choke at 1:33 on the second round. Cerrone received a standing ovation from the crowd after confirming his long-expected retirement. “I don’t love it anymore,” Cerrone said in the octagon. “I’m going to be a movie star, baby.”

Hyped welterweight prospect Ian Garry out-struck Gabriel Green en route to a unanimous-decision victory (30-27, 30-27, 30-27) in a welterweight bout. The Irish prospect stayed perfect with the victory, improving to 10-0 in mixed martial arts and 3-0 in the UFC.

In a potential Fight of the Night affair, Dricus Du Plessis came back from a rough first round to defeat Brad Tavares by unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28). The local Tavares’ face was severely bloodied as Du Plessis dominated the striking portions of the fight.

Uriah Hall swore he wouldn’t get submitted by grappling ace Andre Muniz in their welterweight bout. The veteran kept that promise, but still lost in lopsided fashion. Despite not being able to finish from any of his many dominant positions on the ground, Muniz took a unanimous decision victory over Hall in which every judge scored every round in his favor.

In front of a partisan crowd that cheered her on raucously, Maycee Barber defeated Jessica Eye by unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28). Barber asked for a new contract and a title shot inside the octagon after the victory while Eye announced her retirement. “I’ve been doing this since 2009 and had plenty of fights in the UFC,” Eye said. “I’ve spent all my 20s and 30s doing this. I’d like to see what the rest of the world looks like.”

Julija Stoliarenko secured her spot in the UFC with a memorable finish to start the night that snapped a three-fight losing streak to start her time in the promotion. Stoliarenko submitted Jesssica Rose-Clark via armbar 42 seconds into the women’s bantamweight bout.

Case Keefer can be reached at 702-948-2790 or [email protected]. Follow Case on Twitter at twitter.com/casekeefer.Case Keefer can be reached at 702-948-2790 or

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