Israel Adesanya (23-1) had another stellar showing, earning a decision victory over Jared Cannonier (15-6) to retain the middleweight title at UFC 276 from T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.
Before the fight could begin, Adesanya entered to the Undertaker’s music, with an urn that had “Jared” written on it and everything.
While neither fighter attempted to touch gloves before the bout started, both Adesanya and Cannonier were patient to find their openings in the first round. Adesanya tried to find his angles, but Cannonier was well scouted in evading the champ. Adesanya worked early on at chipping down the much stockier Cannonier with snapping leg kicks, happy to stay outside of the grasp of the challenger.
In the second, Adesanya used his length to walk Cannonier backwards, popping jabs and tossing the occasional head kick. Every time Cannonier tried to find his way inside, it was Adesanya sending him back with a slew of strikes. Adesanya continued to earn points with his shot snap leg kicks before opening it up a bit more and tossing a few combinations together.
The third saw Cannonier go for his first takedown of the fight, but Adesanya easily dispatched that attempt and toss his opponent into the Octagon. Adesanya was successful keeping his distance, with Cannonier lunging and looking for opportunities to get inside of the champion. Late in the round, he used a takedown shoot to get inside of Adesanya and chip away against the cage with strikes to the head and body. Cannonier had to deal with eating shots to get inside, but began to exchange more evenly with Adesanya with about a minute left in the round.
If the third was a breakthrough for Cannonier, the fourth was a momentum swing back in Adesanya’s direction. While Cannonier looked for opportunities in the way he did in the third, Adesanya kept him at bay for the most part, refusing to let the challenger get the same looks he did in the prior round.
Cannonier walked right across the Octagon and moved inside against Adesanya to open the fifth. He ate a handful of jabs immediately and never really got it going to make any significant damage to the champ.
After dropping a decision victory against Robert Whittaker in 2020, Cannonier earned his way into the title picture by knocking off Kelvin Gastelum via decision and knocking out fellow title contender Derek Brunson.
Following an unsuccessful move to light heavyweight in 2021, Adesanya has maintained his dominance over the middleweight division with decision wins over Martin Vettori and Robert Whittaker. After the fight on Saturday night, he mentioned his desire to fight Alex Pereira next. Earlier in the evening, Pereira — who has beaten Adesanya in kickboxing matches on multiple occasions — picked up a first round knockout over Sean Strickland.