UFC 276 betting preview: Can Holloway finally overcome Volkanovski?

We’re just one week removed from a phenomenal five-round Fight Night main event between Mateusz Gamrot and Arman Tsarukyan and now mixed martial arts are being treated to perhaps the deepest pay-per-view card thus far in 2022.

Saturday’s UFC 276 event from T-Mobile Arena outside Las Vegas features two title bouts, two former champions and several of the sport’s top rising talents.

There’s plenty to offer on the seven-bout preliminary card as well as a handful of Fight of the Night contenders and prospects to keep an eye on.

For bettors, there’s a profusion of potential profit with several fights difficult to call and the prop market boasting some juicy value.

With that in mind, here’s a quick look at each of the five main card bouts, plus a couple notable prelims, with some additional picks and prop bets to consider below.

 

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Israel Adesanya (-500) vs. Jared Cannonier (+380)

Cannonier knocked out Derek Brunson and cut a great promo at UFC 271 in February. It earned him a middleweight title shot against champion Adesanya, who headlined that card with a unanimous decision win over Robert Whittaker.

The middleweight titleholder is unbeaten in the weight class and hasn’t been this big a moneyline favourite since he was matched up with Anderson Silva in 2019.

Cannonier is in a tough spot stylistically. He only attempts 0.23 takedowns per 15 minutes and is successful on just half of them. Adesanya has some of the best takedown defence in the division at 77 per cent. That’s to say this fight likely plays out on the feet where the champ holds a significant advantage.

Cannonier does have true power — he was a knockout threat at heavyweight and maintained his power on his journey down several weight classes — so if he’s somehow able to get it to the canvas or clinch, his ground-and-pound is formidable as are his elbows and dirty boxing.

Make no mistake Adesanya has more tools on the feet, although their striking stats are remarkably similar.

Significant strikes landed per minute: Adesanya 3.84, Cannonier 3.76
Significant strike accuracy: Adesanya 49 per cent, Cannonier 50 per cent
Significant strikes absorbed per minute: Adesanya 2.56, Cannonier 3.29
Significant strike defence: Adesanya 61 per cent, Cannonier 63
per cent

Cannonier is aggressive and often leaves himself open to precision counter shots, Izzy’s specialty. Adesanya has gone the distance in three consecutive outings and will want to pick up his first stoppage win since taking out Paulo Costa in 2020.

If you bet Cannonier, you may as well target the stoppage prop at +600. Oddsmakers believe this fight as a 50/50 shot at seeing the scorecards (yes -120, no -120).

Alexander Volkanovski (-200) vs. Max Holloway (+170)

Volkanovski won the title from Holloway with a unanimous decision at UFC 245 in December 2019. The rematch, a split decision win for Volkanovski at UFC 251 in July 2020, was closer and the biggest moments in that one belonged to Holloway. The popular former champion is looking to avoid no man’s land at featherweight, which is where he’ll be with a third loss to the reigning 145-pound kingpin.

Volkanovski has looked phenomenal in his two title defences since last facing Holloway. He showed his championship mettle against Brian Ortega this past September and thoroughly dominated Chan Sung Jung in April.

Holloway, meanwhile, picked up five-round unanimous decision wins over Calvin Kattar 18 months ago and Yair Rodriguez eight months back. Holloway absorbed 292 significant strikes in those wins (176 to the head) and that’s my biggest concern here. Volkanovski has looked sharper in his two recent bouts than Holloway has, plus he outstruck Holloway both times they fought previously.

Oddsmakers have this fight seeing all five rounds as a -225 favourite, but I wouldn’t put it past Volkanovski to hand Holloway his first career loss via strikes.

Alex Pereira (-125) vs. Sean Strickland (+100)

The winner of this fight could earn a title shot, especially if Adesanya retains his title as oddsmakers are projecting. Strickland and the current champ have a budding rivalry and were chirping back and forth at Thursday’s press conference. Pereira, of course, holds a knockout win over Adesanya when the two met in a kickboxing match in 2017.

Pereira’s best chance is if it stays on the feet. He’s an elite knockout artist. Strickland is the more well-rounded fighter, though, and holds a significant advantage in the grappling department. His easiest path to victory would be to wear down Pereira early before taking the fight to the ground. Strickland is 6-0 in the UFC since 2018; Pereira is only 5-1 in MMA and has competed in only three pro MMA bouts in the past six years.

Robbie Lawler (-125) vs. Bryan Barberena (+100)

This should be a fun one. Lawler snapped a four-fight skid and looked rejuvenated against Nick Diaz last September but let’s be honest, Diaz wasn’t in vintage form that night.

Barberena always brings it and is capable of a three-round dogfight with anyone just like we saw earlier this year when he and Matt Brown earned a standing ovation following their bloody battle.

Barberena has never been able to beat the best in the division, losing to the likes of Colby Covington, Leon Edwards and Vicente Luque.

‘Suga’ Sean O’Malley (-300) vs. Pedro Munhoz (+240)

The main card kicks off with this exciting bantamweight tilt. O’Malley is riding a three-fight knockout streak and his lone loss was when he sustained a leg injury against Marlon Vera two years ago. The 27-year-old rising star and popular social media figure is the No. 13-ranked contender at 135 pounds and looking to enter the top 10 with another highlight finish.

Munhoz, 35, is currently ranked No. 9 in the division despite losing four of his past five. All four of those losses were to current or former champions, which speaks to the level of competition he is accustomed to facing. Munhoz has never been finished, has KO power in his hands and a death squeeze on guillotine chokes if an opponent leaves their neck exposed.

I could see O’Malley winning a decision (+175) by controlling the distance with his movement and length and piecing up the durable Munhoz; an O’Malley finish (+130) would be a massive statement. Do not count Munhoz out for one second though. More on that below.

Jalin Turner (-160) vs. Brad Riddell (+130)

The featured preliminary bout sees Turner look to extend his winning streak to five. He looked great in his TKO win over Jamie Mullarkey in March. Riddell helped prepare Mullarkey for that bout, which could be an ominous sign. Riddell is coming off his first KO loss and will be at a height, reach and age disadvantage. Riddell has strong leg kicks that Turner could be susceptible to and he’s more likely to mix in takedowns. His striking will be far more effective against Turner that way. Turner is 27 and on an upward trajectory.

Andre Muniz (-350) vs. Uriah Hall (+275)

Muniz was my dark horse pick to become middleweight champion this year. The Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt has won three in a row by first-round armbar, including when he snapped Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza’s right humerus in half. Hall was taken down by Strickland with little resistance in his most recent appearance and I don’t see Muniz having too much trouble getting this fight to the ground where he should dominate. Hall is a quality striker and all four of Muniz’s losses in MMA have been by knockout.

Here is the full UFC 276 lineup (with odds in parentheses) plus my preferred prop bets and parlay options.

MAIN CARD
— Israel Adesanya (-500) vs. Jared Cannonier (+380)
— Alexander Volkanovski (-200) vs. Max Holloway (+170)
— Alex Pereira (-125) vs. Sean Strickland (+100)
— Robbie Lawler (-125) vs. Bryan Barberena (+100)
— Sean O’Malley (-300) vs. Pedro Munhoz (+240)

PRELIMINARY CARD
— Jalin Turner (-160) vs. Brad Riddell (+130)
— Ian Garry (-170) vs. Gabriel Green (+140)
— Jim Miller (-188) vs. Donald Cerrone (+162)
— Dricus Du Plessis (-160) vs. Brad Tavares (+130)
— Andre Muniz (-350) vs. Uriah Hall (+275)
— Maycee Barber (-300) vs. Jessica Eye (+240)
— Jessica-Rose Clark (-150) vs. Julija Stoliarenko (+125)

Best bets/parlay options: Volkanovski to win (-200), Muniz (-350)

Live dogs: Strickland (+100), Barberena (+100), Tavares (+130), Riddell (+130), Munhoz (+240)

Prop bets: Muniz by submission or decision (-175), Adesanya inside the distance (+137), Volkanovski inside the distance (+333), Munhoz inside the distance (+450)

Dart throws: Volkanovski to win in Round 3 (+1600), Volkanovski to win in Round 4 (+2000), Volkanovski to win in Round 5 (+2800), Strickland by Round 2 submission (+2500), Strickland by Round 3 submission (+4000), Jim Miller by Round 2 submission (+1100), Jim Miller by Round 3 submission (+2200)

(Betting odds via Bet365 as of Friday afternoon and subject to change)

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