UFC 276 puts together one of the most exciting cards in MMA history, ending with what should be a thrilling main event between Israel Adesanya and Jared Cannonier. The card features so many matchups to look forward to, with both legends and exciting up-and-comers up and down this card. Additionally, there are a lot of matchups that could be considered toss-ups. Careers and titles will be on the line this night. So, let’s see who’ll win, who’ll lose, and how it will happen.
Jessica Rose-Clark (11-7-0, 1NC) vs Julija Stoliarenko (9-7-2)
It’s been a rough start to Stoliarenko’s UFC career so far and it’s fair to assume that the former Invicta Bantamweight Champion could see herself out of the organization after only four fights if she loses this one. Rose-Clark is a savvy veteran coming off of a loss in her last fight, but she has gone 4-3 organization overall. This includes a win over fan favorite Paige VanZant.
While Stoliarenko has looked out of her element so far in the UFC, she is an excellent submission artist. A skill that makes this matchup an excellent opportunity for her to pick up a much-needed needed victory. This is due to Clark is only being a purple belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. Additionally, Stoliarenko, heading into this matchup, has a four-inch height and one-and-a-half-inch reach advantage. The differences in size and levels of grappling should see Stoliarenko snag her first UFC win.
Stoliarenko by second round submission
Jessica Eye (15-10-0, 1NC) vs Maycee Barber (10-2-0)
A pioneer of the sport, Jessica Eye has been around since the UFC first started a women’s division in late 2013. Throughout the years (comma here) she has fought a list of champions, such as Miesha Tate, Valentina Shevchenko, and Julianna Peña. Currently ranked #10 in the flyweight division, Eye is coming off of a three-fight losing streak heading into this matchup.
Despite being 11 years younger than Eye, Maycee Barber has experience in this promotion, having fought seven times in the UFC and compiling a record of 5-2. With two straight wins, Barber is now the #13 flyweight in the world with a second degree black belt in karate. It could be because I have a soft spot for karate fighters (who doesn’t love Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson), and it is important to note that Eye has a one-inch reach advantage going into this matchup. Still, Barber’s youth and speed advantage should be the difference here.
Barber by unanimous decision
Uriah Hall (18-10-0) vs Andre Muniz (22-4-0)
A lot of these predictions are going to hurt because I’ll be picking against some of my favorite fighters. Uriah Hall is no exception as one of the nicest, exciting, and most dangerous combat athletes in the world. Becoming well known within fighting circles with his highlight reel knockouts on The Ultimate Fighter: Team Jones vs Team Sonnen, Hall was in the midst of one of the best runs of his UFC career until his most recent loss to Scott Strickland.
Muniz, on the other hand, is a rising star within the UFC. He so far has posted a 4-0 record within the company and a 22-4 record overall. This includes the eight-fight winning he is currently on going into this matchup. A third degree black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, while Muniz has improved his striking, he will look to take this fight to the ground, possibly leaving openings for a Hall flying knee knockout. However, should he avoid that danger and get Hall to the ground, this matchup could end early.
Muniz by second round submission
Brad Tavares (19-7-0) vs Dricus Du Plessis (16-2-0)
Brad Tavares has fought in the UFC for over ten years and now is coming off of a two-fight win streak as the #12 UFC middleweight in the world. With 20 fights in the company it’s become clear what Tavares generally struggles against. That is elite strikers, which is exactly what Du Plessis is. A largely unknown entity out of South Africa, Du Plessis is a second degree black belt in kickboxing.
Du Plessis’ last fight came about a year ago on the Poirier vs. McGregor card, a knockout victory to give him a 2-0 record in the UFC. However, Tavares is a huge step up in competition and a win would set Du Plessis up nicely in the UFC rankings. This fight should mostly stay on the feet which gives the slight edge to Du Plessis as he continues his undefeated streak within the promotion.
Du Plessis by split decision
Ian Garry (9-0-0) vs. Gabe Green (11-3-0)
Probably two of the lesser-known fighters to casual UFC fans, Ian Garry and Gabe Green are one of the younger matchups on the card with Garry at 24 and Green at 29. Fighting out of San Pedro, California, Green is going into his fourth UFC fight overall. So far, he has posted a respectable 2-1 record in the promotion. Garry (comma here)on the other hand, is an undefeated fighter out of Ireland who’s starting to build a hype train as a former Cage Warriors welterweight champion.
So far, Garry is 2-0 in the UFC, but Green will certainly be a step up in competition. However, the five-inch height advantage as well as the one-and-a-half inch reach advantage that Garry possesses should be enough for him to keep the fight standing from a distance and get a finish that can continue to build momentum for the young Irishman going forward. With an impressive finish, this could be the kind of fight that makes Garry a household name. At least in UFC fan households.
Garry by first round knockout
Jim Miller (34-16-0, 1NC) vs Donald Cerrone (36-16-0, 2NC)
A matchup worthy of the main card, Jim Miller is a fitting last fight for UFC legend Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone. The two have combined for close to 80 fights within the promotion, and are tied for the most wins in UFC history at 23. Establishing Miller as a legend of the sport in his own right. While the two are elite grapplers, it’s fair to assume that this matchup will mostly stay on the feet.
Miller is coming off of two straight knockout wins against lesser known opponents while Cowboy hasn’t won in any of his last six fights. Cerrone will have the size and reach advantage heading into this matchup but going off of his last two contests, it seems like age is catching up to a man who was near the top of the lightweight division three years ago. Miller’s momentum as well as the fact that this is a short-notice fight for Cowboy should be the difference.
Miller by third round technical knockout
Brad Riddell (10-2-0) vs Jalin Turner (12-5-0)
In the midst of the best stretch of his MMA career, Jalin Turner looks to break into the rankings of the lightweight division against the #14 lightweight fighter in the world, Brad Riddell. Turner is coming off of four straight finishes with two submissions and two technical knockouts. A late newcomer to the sport, it’s clear that Turner is getting better by the day and has a great upbringing story to boast about how he fell in love with mixed martial arts.
Riddell, on the other hand, was on a tear until his most recent matchup against Rafael Fiziev. While Riddell has a more impressive striking background than Turner, the size difference going into this fight is especially notable with Turner having a six-inch reach advantage and a seven-inch height advantage. Turner also has a very solid wrestling background. Unless Riddell is consistently going to be able to close the distance, Turner should be able to win this matchup by decision.
Turner by unanimous decision
Pedro Munhoz (19-7-0, 1NC) vs Sean O’Malley (15-1-0)
Ok, on to the main card, and what a way to begin with one of the most electric rising stars in the entire world of mixed martial arts, Sean O’Malley. “Suga” has been a highlight reel knockout artist so far in his career and aside from his only loss to the currently #5 ranked bantamweight in the world, Marlon Vera, has dominated all of his fights with ease.
This will not be an easy fight. Pedro Munhoz is an accomplished bantamweight with solid striking, having knocked out the likes of Cody Garbrandt, and elite grappling as a black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and brown belt in judo. Munhoz will most likely have to get this fight to the ground to get the upper hand against the extremely dangerous O’Malley on the feet. Still, O’Malley has solid takedown defense and should be able to continue to build his hype with a potential fight of the night performance.
O’Malley by unanimous decision
Robbie Lawler (29-15-0, 1NC) vs Bryan Barberena (17-8-0)
“Ruthless” Robbie Lawler looks to continue his legendary UFC career with his 30th professional win in mixed martial arts against the veteran Bryan Barberena. Lawler was recently on a four-fight losing streak until his most recent victory against his longtime rival Nick Diaz in late 2021. Nearing the end of the road, Lawler is still a formidable opponent with all of his most recent losses coming to ranked opponents in the welterweight division.
Barberena has been with the promotion since 2014 and is coming off a split decision victory with the even more experienced Matt Brown. While Lawler is an accomplished wrestler, this fight is almost guaranteed to stay on the feet with Lawler looking to move forward with his patented, aggressive style. The lack of a takedown threat from Barberena should allow us to see the best of Lawler at this age in this matchup.
Lawler by unanimous decision
Sean Strickland (25-3-0) vs Alex Pereira (5-1-0)
As if we didn’t need more of a reason to watch this pay-per-view, we get probably one of the most exciting non-title middleweight matchups in recent memory with the unapologetic Sean Strickland taking on one of the most accomplished strikers in the world, Alex Pereira. Pereira is the only man to knockout the current middleweight champion of the world (albeit in kickboxing) and will certainly be on a fast track to face the current champ should both of them win this Saturday.
This is a huge step up in competition for Pereira, similar to the step up that Khazmat Chimaev had recently against Gilbert Burns. In addition, the #4 ranked Strickland is no stranger to defeating elite strikers with a recent victory coming against Uriah Hall. Still, while there is a chance that Strickland will use his wrestling against Pereira, pride might get in the way of that strategy based on his past comments on that aspect of MMA. That cannot happen against a man who is probably the most decorated kickboxer in UFC history.
Pereira by third round knockout
Alexander Volkanowski (C) (24-1-0) vs. Max Holloway (23-6-0)
“Fool me once shame on you, fool me twice shame on me, fool me a third time shame on both of us.” At least that’s how the saying goes according to Stephen King. So, if you’re picking Max Holloway to finally defeat Alexander Volkanowski in a matchup that could decide who the greatest featherweight of all time is (with Jose Aldo and maybe Connor McGregor being contenders for this status as well), just remember, we’re in this together.
Still, it’s important to note that Alexander “The Great” Volkanowski is the most underrated fighter in the entire UFC. Despite not starting to train in MMA until 22, the Aussie has already solidified is hall-of-fame status and is currently on a 21-fight win streak, including three featherweight title defenses. However, like the champ, Holloway is also still in his prime and this rivalry has been too close to have Volkanowski win all three matchups. Still, there’s the chance that even I’m underrating the most underrated fighter in the sport.
Holloway by unanimous decision
Israel Adesanya (C) (22-1-0) vs Jared Cannonier (15-5-0)
Here we go. Jared Cannonier finally gets his title shot as one of the most dangerous knockout artists in the UFC against perhaps the greatest striker the world of mix martial arts has ever seen. “The Last Stylebender” has already built quite the resume over the course of his UFC career, with four or five title defenses depending on whether you want to count his first victory over Robert Whittaker as one of those defenses. But, Izzy will have to be very cautious against Cannonier.
Adesanya will most likely stay on the outside as Cannonier presses and tries to close the distance with the significant height and reach advantage the middleweight champ will have going in. Even though he’s never been known for his grappling, “The Killa Gorilla” might want to at least consider getting into clinch situations to possible catch Stylebender with an elbow or uppercut.
This fight is built to be entertaining as Adesanya is always at his best when someone attacks him, which Cannonier is certain to do. Still, I can’t see someone within the same weight class as Izzy who’s going to solely keep the fight standing beating him. Except for maybe Alex Pereira.
Adesanya by fourth round knockout