Saturday’s UFC 276 event is in the books, and now that the dust has settled in Las Vegas, it’s time to go to the scorecard to see who the big winners were at T-Mobile Arena.
1 – Alexander Volkanovski
I hate doing this, because I don’t think the all-time great conversation should be had until after a fighter retires, but just like we’ve had it with Kamaru Usman among the welterweights, it’s fair to now have it with Alexander Volkanovski and wonder if he is the best featherweight to wear the crown? There is a shorter list at 145 pounds than in other divisions, but with three wins over Max Holloway and a 2019 victory over Jose Aldo – the other fighters on the list – it’s hard to argue with anyone who sees the Aussie as the man on top. He’s that good, and if you’re new to the party, spoiler alert, he’s been that good for a long time.
2 – Alex Pereira
Some may wonder how Alex Pereira gets the nod for the spot above the man he may be facing next, but look at what the Brazilian striking specialist did against the first ranked fighter he’s faced in his career, Sean Strickland. That was a big leap to make in terms of opposition, and Pereira was giving up a ton of MMA experience, but when Strickland decided to stand with him, it was suddenly a kickboxing match again, and Alex Pereira doesn’t lose kickboxing matches.
3 – Israel Adesanya
After a near-shutout win over Jared Cannonier that earned him another successful defense of his undisputed middleweight title, Israel Adesanya received some social media flack for not putting together a highlight reel in every fight. Maybe we were spoiled early on, but the point is that Adesanya is winning, he’s winning convincingly, and he’s making good fighters look average. And when it comes to Fight of the Night level action, it takes two to produce a bout like that. If you can bring the fight to Adesanya and can hang, like Kelvin Gastelum did, you saw the result. If you bring it and can’t take the return fire, it looks like Adesanya’s win over Paulo Costa. Will Alex Pereira bring it? Most certainly. What happens next makes this one of the most intriguing fights to be made later this year.
4 – Bryan Barberena
Not many can do to Robbie Lawler what Bryan Barberena did last weekend. Not many can do what he did to Matt Brown either. And just like that, “Bam Bam” has won three straight and four of his last five, with the only loss taking place in a Fight of the Night brawl he lost via majority decision to Jason Witt. That’s an impressive run, and while that means even bigger fights in the future, from a pure aesthetic point of view, if you don’t want to watch Barberena do his thing in the Octagon, you’re not a fight fan.
5 – Jalin Turner
A lot of people will look at Jalin Turner’s win over Brad Riddell and assume he fell out of the sky and into the Octagon at T-Mobile Arena. Not quite. Turner paid more than his share of dues, he got over some tough times during a long layoff following his 2019 loss to Matt Frevola, and now that he’s here and making noise at 155 pounds, I say it couldn’t have happened to a nicer and more deserving guy. He earned this.
Bonus Pick – Donald Cerrone
It was fitting that Donald Cerrone said he was retiring from the sport because he didn’t love it anymore, because before his fight with Jim Miller, no one loved it more. You could see it, hear it and feel it, and that’s something we will always remember him for. A lot of fighters say they would do this for free. I believe “Cowboy” actually would. That’s rare. Cowboy. Anyone. Anytime. Anywhere.
UFC 276: Adesanya vs Cannonier took place on Saturday, July 2, 2022 live T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada. See the Final Results, Official Scorecards and Who Won Bonuses - and relive the action on UFC Fight Pass!