BCDC Analyst Grant Emrick Previews UFC 276

UFC 276: Adesanya vs. Cannonier

July 2, 2022

Emrick’s UFC Fighter Pick Record (137-72) – 66% Correct

Early Prelim Predictions:

WBW: Jessica-Rose Clark (11-7, 1 NC) vs. Julija Stoliarenko (9-7-2)

  • Pick: Jessica-Rose Clark

MW: #12 Brad Tavares (19-7) vs. Dricus Du Plessis (16-2)

  • Pick: Dricus Du Plessis

WFLY: #12 Jessica Eye (15-10, 1 NC) vs. #14 Maycee Barber (10-2)

  • Pick: Maycee Barber

MW: #9 Uriah Hall (18-10) vs. #13 Andre Muniz (22-4)

  • Pick: Andre Muniz

Prelim Predictions:

WW: Jim Miller (34-16, 1 NC) vs. Donald Cerrone (30-16, 2 NC)

  • Pick: Jim Miller

WW: Ian Garry (9-0) vs. Gabe Green (11-3)

  • Pick: Gabe Green

WW: Robbie Lawler (29-15, 1 NC) vs. Bryan Barberena (17-8)

  • Pick: Bryan Barberena

LW: #14 Brad Riddell (10-2) vs. Jalin Turner (12-5)

  • Pick: Jalin Turner

Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC

Main Card Predictions:

BW: #10 Pedro Munhoz (19-7, 1 NC) vs. #13 Sean O’Malley (15-1)

  • Pick: Sean O’Malley (-260)
  • Quick Reasoning: It almost feels like the UFC is trying to end the career of Pedro Munhoz. Losing 4 of his last 5 and having to face O’Malley is a ridiculous task, especially considering the metric disadvantages against him. O’Malley’s tall frame and reach advantages of 5” and 7” will make, what should be a boxing/kickboxing display, more difficult for the smaller Munhoz. What we should expect in Pedro’s game plan is a flurry of leg kicks against O’Malley, targeting his lanky lower body that has experienced severe damage in the past from his bout with “Chito” Vera. This will at least hinder O’Malley’s movement and keep Munhoz within striking range. However, while O’Malley may look more brittle due to his skinny size, he’s very similar to Kevin Holland in holding a deceiving amount of strength in his hands. O’Malley’s jab should serve as his range-finder and keep Munhoz out of range to throw leg kicks and power strikes. This fight really comes down to who pushes forward, and this is something O’Malley is excellent at, as he averages over 8.26 significant strikes per minute compared to Munhoz’s 5.50. O’Malley’s size advantage also keeps his defensive metrics in great shape, defending 66% of strikes against him per minute, and absorbing nearly half of the strikes in that timeframe that Munhoz does (3.52 vs. 6.09). I really like O’Malley and see him jumping to the #10 spot with this victory, but Munhoz has yet to be finished after 26 pro bouts, so a decision is very likely. Munhoz will have his moments, but the damage by the end of the fight will show in a 30-27 or 29-28 victory for O’Malley.

MW: #4 Sean Strickland (25-3) vs. Alex Pereira (5-1)

  • Pick: Sean Strickland (-105)
  • Quick Reasoning: I just don’t think Pereira’s ready for this much of a jump. Let me also say this, I am not a Sean Strickland fan whatsoever and I disagree with almost anything that man says. But in the octagon, he is a legitimate threat to dismantling the UFC’s plan to move Pereira against Adesanya in as little time as possible. Here’s a quick reminder that this is just Pereira’s 3rd UFC fight and 7th professional bout. Even Chimaev or Shavkat didn’t see this big of a jump in competition after making quick work of their first few opponents. And a big thing I’ll harp on against is the ground game of Pereira, which is essentially not great, which I imagine Strickland will blanket him down with instead of keeping it on the feet. However, one thing Pereira is excellent at is his kickboxing. A former GLORY kickboxing middleweight and light-heavyweight champion, Pereira even managed to beat Adesanya twice (once via KO). Strickland is coming off of back-to-back main events, going the distance each time and clearly winning at least 8 of 10 rounds against Jack Hermansson and Uriah Hall. He’s also riding a 6 fight win streak, so his confidence and cardio are each at an all-time high, placing him in an advantageous position to push his pace over three rounds. Strickland averages just over one takedown per fight and has similar striking metrics to Pereira, so the true difference occurs on the ground. Because of Strickland’s longtime octagon experience and better-rounded game, I see him winning in a very close decision. This fight can absolutely go either way, so if you do play this don’t bet much on it. Strickland via 29-28 UD or a split decision is where my mind is at with this fight. 

FW: *Champion* Alexander Volkanovski (24-1) vs. #1 Max Holloway (23-6)

  • Pick: Alexander Volkanovski (-190)
  • Quick Reasoning: We’ve seen this rivalry play out twice, so there’s not much more to cover here. These are two of the most electric featherweights of recent years, and arguably two of the best UFC featherweights of all time. Holloway has the crisp boxing skills and an iron chin, while Volkanovski has the overall fight IQ and well-rounded abilities to potentially be a two-division champion if he went for it. It’s very difficult to win all three fights in a trilogy, but Volkanovski is someone who can make that feat look easy to the average viewer. Since the last fight, I do think there have been some changes between these two opponents. Before I say what I’m going to say, these are two fighters that I have loved watching inside and out of the octagon, so this makes it hard to write. With that said, I don’t think Max can keep up with Volkanovski in this matchup. When Holloway has the UFC record of the most absorbed strikes – 1,811 significant strikes as of November 2021 – standing at 30 years old and ten years in the promotion, his chin has to break at some point. The style he possesses, getting hit twice to land one, will take its toll eventually. I think that three matchups with Volkanovski will show the damage in what may be his last stand. Holloway’s recent matchup with Yair Rodriguez didn’t impress me much either, especially with Yair coming back for his first fight following a two-year layoff from competition. Holloway clearly won, but something seemed lacking in his game that night. Don’t let my opinion of his performance diminish what he achieved that night as well, furthering his record of total strikes landed and becoming the first fighter to reach 3,000 strikes. It’s an incredible feat to see someone join the UFC at 20 and come as far as Holloway has, but his age in the game is probably further along due to the many wars he has taken part in. Volkanovski, since their second of three fights, has been incredible. From beating the breaks off and escaping Ortega’s trademarked triangle chokes in what should’ve been a doctor stoppage, to demoralizing TKZ in just over three rounds, Volk has been out for blood in the featherweight division. We saw Volkanovski outstrike Max in the first fight by 23 and 35 in the second, so my hot take going into this fight is Volkanovski will outstrike Max once again by 40+ in this third matchup. While likely, I’m not too certain this fight will make it to the judges based on the Volkanovski we see Saturday night. But if it doesn’t, I’d say there’s a very high chance we see him move up to battle Charles Oliveira for the belt sometime next year. Show me Volkanovski by TKO – most likely doctor stoppage – in round 4 in a dramatic ending to this featherweight trilogy. Who knows, Max could prove us wrong, that’s why I’m passing on betting this one and enjoying the show. 

MW: *Champion* Israel Adesanya (22-1) vs. #2 Jared Cannonier (15-5)

  • Pick: Israel Adesanya (-365)
  • Quick Reasoning: So, Adesanya should be able to pick up a win here. Cannonier doesn’t offer much of a takedown threat and the gas tank is what would worry me with Jared as well if he tried. Cannonier was a big guy, once a HW and LHW in the UFC, but has slimmed down and showed good promise at the MW division. I’m honestly shocked his fight with Brunson didn’t get stopped at the end of the first round, because Cannonier was taking a beating until his epic comeback finish in round two. He’s tough and has only had one loss in the division to Robert Whittaker in a 29-28 UD loss before beating Kelvin Gastelum and Derek Brunson. The only way I see Cannonier really pulling off the upset is if Adesanya loses focus defensively and gets clocked, as Cannonier still has some of that strong punching power from his previous weight classes. With this being on the feet, it’s absolutely Adesanya’s fight to lose. He owns a 5” height and 3” reach advantage, along with one of the best kickboxing pedigrees of current UFC champions. Their landed and absorbed striking stats are very similar, but Adesanya is much better defensively due to his ability to keep his opponent at range. We’ve seen a more cautious Adesanya, fighting for a decision win and not necessarily taking many risks. Cannonier is 2-3 in the UFC when going to a decision, so there’s a good chance we see a gas tank breakdown in the championship rounds as Adesanya picks him apart to a clear 49-46 or 50-45 victory. Adesanya by UD is what I’d go with, but the odds have beefed up heavily towards Adesanya in recent days, so I’m personally passing. 

Emrick’s Combat Sports Betting (-1.018u):

  • Straight Bets:
    • Dawg of the Week (1-0): Du Plessis ML
      • 1u to win 0.909u
    • Clark ML
      • 1.5u to win 1.071u
    • Strickland ML
      • 0.5u to win 0.476u
    • Muniz ML
      • 2u to win 0.816u
    • Barber ML 
      • 1.5u to win 0.731u
    • Turner ML
      • 0.5u to win 0.4u
    • O’Malley ML
      • 1.5u to win 0.5076
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