A pair of championship fights headline UFC 276 on Saturday at Las Vegas’ T-Mobile Arena.
Israel Adesanya (22-1) defends his UFC middleweight title against Jared Cannonier and the co-feature bout is a trilogy fight between featherweight champion Alexander Volkanovski (24-1) and Max Holloway.
New Zealand’s Adesanya (22-1) has dominated the competition at 185 pounds, winning all 22 of his career bouts in the class.
This bout marks the first time he meets a fresh 185-pound challenger in nearly two years, as he lost a challenge to then-light heavyweight champ Jan Blachowicz, then took wins in rematches with Marvin Vettori and Robert Whittaker.
In Phoenix’s Cannonier (15-5) the champ is presented with an opponent who won UFC fights via KO/TKO at heavyweight and light heavyweight before dropping all the way to middleweight. Since going there, that same power that knocked out foes at higher weight classes has looked terrifying as he’s won five of six fights at 185.
The featherweight title bout is one of the rarest of trilogy fights: One in which a third bout gets made despite the the same fighter winning each of the first two tilts.
In this case, Australia’s Volkanovski, who has won all 11 of his UFC fights, defeated Hawaii’s Holloway (23-6) at UFC 245 to claim the 145-pound title in what was a non-controversial unanimous decision. They rematched at UFC 251, and this time, Volkanovski took a split decision considered one of the most controversial calls in recent years.
Holloway has since cleaned the clock of everyone he’s faced, making it plain he remains heads-and-tails at No. 2 in the division.
Volkanovski is in a spot in which he’s got a raft of rising contenders who aren’t quite ready, and has also cleaned out the division of bigger names. Thus, the timing is right for an unlikely fight.
–Field Level Media