Photo: Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images
On Saturday July 2, 2022, from the T-Mobile Arena, home to the NHL’s Vegas Golden Knights in Las Vegas, Nevada, UFC 276 is going down! The main event, as well as the co-main event, will both feature title fights that have barnburners written all over them. However, the order of the championship fights should be changed.
Currently, the UFC Middleweight (185 lbs.) Championship is on the line in the main event. The champion, Israel Adesanya ("THE LAST STYLEBENDER") puts his belt on the line against the No. 2 ranked Jared Cannonier ("THA KILLA GORILLA"). In the co-main event, the UFC Featherweight (145 lbs.) Championship is on the line, as the champion Alexander Volkanovski (“THE GREAT”) faces the No. 1 ranked Max Holloway (“BLESSED”).
Unlike Adesanya and Cannonier, who are meeting in the octagon for the first time Saturday, Volkanovski and Holloway have already spent 50 minutes together in the octagon. Prior to this matchup, they’ve seen each other twice, so this will complete their trilogy of bouts.
Trilogies are not common in the UFC. Before this Featherweight trilogy between Volkanovski and Holloway, the last one was at Lightweight (155 lbs.) between Connor McGregor and Dustin Poirier. Dustin secured the 2-1 edge thanks to his victory at UFC 264. Before that, there was the Heavyweight trilogy between Cleveland’s own Stipe Miocic and Daniel Cormier. Miocic came away with the 2-1 victory thanks to a unanimous decision win at UFC 252.
Typically, a trilogy is needed because the two fighters split their first two fights, and a tiebreaker is needed. However, this is not the case with Volkanovski and Holloway, as Volkanovski has won the first two fights.
The first fight happened at UFC 245, which also emanated from the T-Mobile Arena in Vegas, when Holloway was the champion, and Volkanovski was the challenger. Volk won by unanimous decision (48-47, 48-47, 50-45) to become the new champion.
The rematch would happen at UFC 251 on July 11, 2020. The fight took place at Fight Island on Yas Island Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This was Volkanovski’s first title defense since snatching the belt away from Holloway at UFC 245. Right from the start until the final punch was thrown, you could see each fighter had made adjustments to their game plan.
Fight 2 between Volk and Max was incredibly close. It felt like they were walking on a tightrope, and the first one to look down was going to fall off and not come away with the win. The two put on another absolute classic, as Alexander was utilizing takedowns, but Max rendered them useless by being able to make it back to his feet. Going into Round 3, Max had thrown 135 total strikes. However, he had only landed 65 (unofficially). That’s the type of fighter Max is; he likes to throw a high number of strikes and pick apart his opponent. He didn’t attempt any takedowns.
By the end of the fight, Max landed 111 of 177 total strikes and 102 of 268 significant strikes. Meanwhile, Volkonovski landed 139 of 275 total strikes and 137 of 272 significant strikes. Volk also landed three takedowns on nine attempts, which equates to 33%.
Much like Fight 1, Fight 2 went the full five rounds and the full 25 minutes. However, unlike Fight 1, the rematch didn’t result in a unanimous decision. Instead, it was a split decision. Mark Collett scored it 48-47 Volkonoski, David Letherby scored it 48-47 Holloway, and Clemens Werner scored it 48 - 47 Volkonovski, so Volk successfully defended his championship for the first time.
After watching the first two fights, who wouldn’t want to see these two go at it again? Yes, Alexander won the first two meetings, which normally would nullify a third fight. However, the first two fights were razor-thin. In fact, there were a lot of people saying that Max won the second fight, and the judges got it wrong.
It makes sense why Israel Adesanya vs. Jared Cannonier is the main event for UFC 276. Middleweight is a higher weight class than Featherweight, but fans are drawn to Adesanya because of his fighting style and personality. However, since trilogies aren’t very common in the UFC, Volkonoski vs. Holloway 3 should be the main event for UFC 276 on Saturday, and Adesayna vs. Cannonier should be the co-main event.
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