The Bloody Elbow staff has made its picks for Saturday’s UFC 276 event, and we are unanimously picking Israel Adesanya to defend his middleweight title over Jared Cannonier in the main event. As for the co-main, Victor Rodriguez is the long person backing Max Holloway to take the trilogy over featherweight champion Max Holloway.
To see the latest betting lines for these fights, head over to DraftKings Sportsbook.
Note: Predictions are entered throughout the week and collected the day before the event. Explanations behind each pick are not required and some writers opt not to do so for their own reasons. For example, if Zane Simon entered all of his predictions on Wednesday without adding in any explanations, he has no idea if he’s going to be the only one siding with one fighter for any given fight.
Israel Adesanya vs. Jared Cannonier
Anton Tabuena: Cannonier isn’t the most technical fighter he’s faced recently — that’s obviously Whittaker — but I’d argue this is probably Adesanya’s most dangerous title defense yet. Adesanya has the ability to freeze people with high level set ups and feints, and make them look like they don’t belong in there, so my statement can end up looking just as silly. But Cannonier definitely isn’t someone to get careless on, and he also brings a bit more speed, depth and more layers than the other hard hitters in Romero and Costa. Adesanya has to stay disciplined and technical the entire time, especially with those leg kicks, so while I don’t think Cannonier will allow this to be completely uneventful, I feel like this could go from slow technical chess match to violence at any point. Israel Adesanya by decision.
Mookie Alexander: Yeah I’m comfortable picking Adesanya but I’d really appreciate seeing a better fight than Izzy’s recent ones. It feels like one of these days he is going to be too cautious for his own good and lose a decision he’ll vehemently disagree with. I don’t think this is the fight solely because Cannonier is going to present the types of opportunities where Adesanya can counter and hurt him. Jared does have the sort of power that could make Adesanya a little hesitant to engage but Cannonier isn’t impossible to hurt and once Adesanya is in a rhythm and figures out his timing and distance there could be a great display from the champ. Israel Adesanya by decision.
Zane Simon: If Cannonier can land a few big shots early, he might be able to push Izzy out of the pocket and make this a slow paced battle of caution and counters, Yoel Romero style. But even that fight, where Izzy is the superior defensive fighter and lands with equal power at range, seems poorly made for a Cannonier win. More than anything the ‘Killa Gorilla’ just seems too flat footed and a bit too predictable in his strike selection to take Adesanya off his game. If Adesanya can get his kicking game working, this could look a lot more like the Costa fight—where a little success quickly cascades into fight ending violence. Either way, the dynamics all seem to point in Adesanya’s favor. Israel Adesanya via TKO, round 3.
Staff picking Adesanya: Mookie, Stephie, Victor, Anton, Dayne, Zane
Staff picking Cannonier:
Alexander Volkanovski vs. Max Holloway
Anton Tabuena: This is very hard to predict, and honestly, both guys are really hard not to root for. I personally thought Holloway did enough to win their second match up, and I expect this to be very close again. The only reason I’m leaning slightly towards Volkanovski now, is that he’s still improving so much from each fight. Both are willing to scrap, but Volkanovski also seems to be the one with a style that has more focus and emphasis on scoring better. With such an even match up between elite fighters that are already very familiar with each other, perhaps it’s those little things that puts him over. I’m a huge fan of Holloway and his style, but today I’m going with Alexander Volkanovski by Decision.
Mookie Alexander: I’m tempted to pick Holloway just because the second fight was closer to being a Holloway win than the first one was. What sticks out to me is Holloway’s notoriously inhuman workrate dipped against Volkanovski in both fights, but especially the back-end of the second fight. Volkanovski can not only strike with Holloway but he presents a legitimate wrestling threat that Max has to be wary of. They both have timed each other so well but they also have legendary chins. Going to the body and legs will be key and Volkanovski has had great success with low kicks in the past. Dammit, you can flip a coin even though it’s 2-0 Volk. I gotta go with Alexander Volkanovski by decision.
Zane Simon: I dunno, over 10 rounds of Holloway vs. Volkanovski, I’m feeling more concrete than ever that the long arc of the narrative between these two men is continually bending in Volkanovski’s favor. In their first bout, the ‘Great’ was continually able to stymie Holloway’s progression with low kicks and counter shots. And by the time Holloway started building momentum, it was too late for him to take over the fight. In the second bout, Holloway started hot and with a plan to throw himself into the teeth of Volkanovski’s offense from the jump, with more focused body punching, and a better willingness to eat early shots and still land his own. But, Volkanovski adjusted, started leading more behind his own jab, and chewed Holloway’s leg up with low kicks, to the point that Holloway’s output fell off a cliff. If Holloway can just bite down and go crazy on workrate for 5 rounds, maybe he can take this. It’d certainly make for an epic war. But given how hard Volkanovski is to hit, how well he adjusts, and how consistent he is with his own tools, I think he can pick up at least 3 rounds. Alexander Volkanovski by decision.
Staff picking Volkanovski: Mookie, Stephie, Anton, Dayne, Zane
Staff picking Holloway: Victor
Sean Strickland vs. Alex Pereira
Anton Tabuena: Strickland can easily win if he uses the fence well and actually mixes things up. He’s the more complete MMA fighter after all, but I do think he’ll basically just walk forward and strike with the striker for the most part, and that’ll be his downfall. Alex Pereira by TKO.
Mookie Alexander: I’ll gladly root for Pereira to win because Strickland is just that obnoxious, but I also think that Strickland is a substantial jump from Bruno Blindado and Andreas Michailidis. Now even though Strickland is a disciplined, very good striker who works behind his jab, he’s also not a powerful guy and he’s going up against one of the best kickboxers in the world. It would be very risky to just trade with a more potent fighter who can tear your head off with a left hook. Strickland’s not been much of a wrestler at 185 but it seems like a no-brainer to push that advantage against Pereira and deny Alex any chance to get into a rhythm. Sean Strickland by decision.
Zane Simon: There’s no reason for Sean Strickland to fight Pereira on his terms. Even if he’s fought his way back to his feet every time, Andreas Michailidis and Bruno Silva aren’t exactly wrestling gods, and they both put him on his back without too much trouble. The thing is, wrestling and grappling clearly aren’t want Strickland WANTS to do. Even hitting 4 takedowns against Uriah Hall, those all came after he rocked Hall standing in round 3. For the most part, Strickland was happy to work his normal game, marching forward, into the pocket, working his jab constantly. If he doesn’t get KO’d, even that might be enough to beat Pereira. Bruno Silva may not have come that close to winning, but his willingness to throw got a lot done in that fight, and he’s not nearly as consistent a volume striker as Strickland is. Still, given how stock straight, Strickland stands, and how much offense he puts out there, I think he’ll get countered hard by something he doesn’t see coming. Might be a left hook, might be a wheel kick. Alex Pereira via KO, round 2.
Staff picking Strickland: Mookie, Stephie, Victor, Dayne
Staff picking Pereira: Anton, Zane
Sean O’Malley vs. Pedro Munhoz
Mookie Alexander: Munhoz is a fast starter and insanely tough, plus he likes the type of kicks that can really put O’Malley’s legs in peril again. But Munhoz is also at a massive size and speed disadvantage and I get the sense that O’Malley will not try and rush things and look to methodically pick apart Pedro. Not a confident pick because Munhoz even on a losing skid is way better than anyone O’Malley has beaten, but I see him outpointing the Brazilian in a thriller. Sean O’Malley by decision.
Anton Tabuena: Munhoz is on a bad losing streak now, but he is still a massive step up for O’Malley. This should be really close and competitive, so I’m not sure it’s the smartest match up for O’Malley, who probably could’ve picked an aging vet with far more name value instead. I don’t see much upside for O’Malley apart from the #9 next to Munhoz’s name, plus this would be a lot harder than his streak of four losses in five fights would suggest. Pedro Munhoz by TKO.
Zane Simon: The broad strokes of this fight definitely favor O’Malley. Pedro Munhoz does a lot of chasing in the cage, walks onto a lot of strikes, and O’Malley’s game is all about darting in and out from range and looking to escape pressure and sit down on big counters. The more I look at the specifics of the bout, however, the less certain I am of O’Malley’s success. For one thing, when moving backwards, he really tends to leave his legs behind him. And while I could write off his loss to Vera as a fluke, his legs failed him against Soukhamthath as well, and as brief as it was, it really did seem like a Paiva low kick immediately bothered him. To date, Munhoz has never been KO’d, and he’s an amazingly good kicker who chases his kicks up well with heavy punches over the top. I know he’ll eat a ton of damage early on trying to make it happen, but I’ll take Pedro Munhoz via TKO, round 3.
Staff picking O’Malley: Mookie, Stephie, Victor, Dayne
Staff picking Munhoz: Anton, Zane
Robbie Lawler vs. Bryan Barberena
Anton Tabuena: I will surely hate myself for typing this, but I don’t think Lawler has much left in the tank and his win over an out of shape and shot Nick Diaz somehow only confirmed it more for me. I think Barbarena will grind this one out. Yup I already hate myself. Bryan Barberena by Decision.
Mookie Alexander: Barberena is three fights removed from going life and death (and actually losing to) Jason Witt. He’s several years younger than Lawler but also pretty damn shopworn himself. Maybe Barberena looks to wrestle a lot more than he normally does but more likely he looks to trade with Lawler and Robbie still can win those battles. Robbie Lawler by TKO, round 2.
Zane Simon: There’s never been a version of Bryan Barberena that would have beat Robbie Lawler in the past, and I’m not at all convinced there’s one now. Even 7 years younger, injury struggles and numerous wars seem like they’ve faded Barberena badly. He barely scraped by Matt Brown in an absolute war, and got out-wrestled in the process. He hasn’t completed a takedown since 2016 against Sage Northcutt, and it’s clear what he wants to do in the cage is slug it out. Lawler may be no spring chicken, but he’s still the better schooled more technical puncher and he’ll be getting exactly the kind of fight he can still do well in. Robbie Lawler by decision.
Staff picking Lawler: Mookie, Stephie, Victor, Dayne, Zane
Staff picking Barberena: Anton
Jalin Turner vs. Brad Riddell
Mookie Alexander: Turner is so fast and powerful that while I worry about him against a more technical striker than Riddell, his physical and athletic advantages will go a long way towards a statement victory. Jalin Turner by TKO, round 1.
Zane Simon: No sir, I don’t like the way this fight makes me feel at all. In terms of pure moxie and slugging style, Riddell’s the dude I want to root for, but I get the feeling Turner may be an absolutely miserable matchup for him. For one thing, Turner is a giant, and Riddell is one of the shortest men in the lightweight division. For another thing, Riddell always starts slow and often gets hurt early. And Turner can land clean and hard at every range, more or less from the jump. If Riddell gets clipped up early in this fight, and then has to battle his way through Turner’s reach later on, or through his tall man clinch, can a late surge save him? I don’t think it will. Expect Riddell to have his normal great 3rd round if he gets that far, but I’ll take Jalin Turner by decision.
Staff picking Turner: Mookie, Anton, Dayne, Zane
Staff picking Riddell: Stephie, Victor
Ian Garry vs. Gabe Green
Mookie Alexander: Trap fight for Garry with the way Gabe Green has performed. Wasn’t too impressed with Garry against Darian Weeks and don’t believe his upside is all that high but his knockout power is probably going to catch Green at some point and get him past a difficult opponent. Ian Garry by TKO, round 2.
Zane Simon: In the world of sporting narratives, this feels very much like Garry’s fight to win. Something like O’Malley vs. Munhoz, the obvious dynamics favor Garry’s backfoot counterpunching style against a man who constantly comes forward with volume. But, if Garry can’t KO Green, then Green has turned himself into exactly the kind of fighter that breaks young prospects who have been leaning on their power. I expect Green will get hurt very badly at some point. But if he can push like he did against Lainesse, I think he can walk away with the win. Gabe Green via TKO, round 3.
Staff picking Garry: Mookie, Stephie, Victor, Anton
Staff picking Green: Dayne, Zane
Jim Miller vs. Donald Cerrone
Mookie Alexander: Only concern is this fight’s at 170 and Jim has never fought there. Otherwise betting on 2022 Cerrone is not wise. Miller has been kicking ass over his past couple of fights and the Cowboy who beat Jim in 2014 seems long gone. Jim Miller by TKO, round 2.
Zane Simon: This is a lot like the read I had on Cerrone vs. Lauzon, but moreso. Cerrone starts slow, Miller starts fast. More than anything, it seems like the days where Cerrone could pick up momentum in the second and third rounds are far behind him. For Miller, in a lot of ways he still looks like the guy he’s always been. Hell, he’s even carried his fast starts into second round finishes lately. Jim Miller via TKO, round 2.
Staff picking Miller: Mookie, Stephie, Victor, Anton, Dayne, Zane
Staff picking Cerrone:
Dricus du Plessis vs. Brad Tavares
Zane Simon: This may be some sort of visual bias at work, here, but I really don’t like the way du Plessis fights. He’s obviously got some serious power, but for a man who counters so well, most of his game really doesn’t seem designed to bring that out. From range, he mostly focuses on big powerful kicks to the legs and body, and some very suspect shot wrestling. When he gets backed up, he tends toward a straight-line retreat with a high guard, leaving him open to wide hooks and body shots and takedowns. Tavares isn’t a great finisher, so I doubt he turns those kinds of mistakes into definitive offense, but he is exceptionally consistent and hard to take off his game. Du Plessis may have the bigger moments, but I think Tavares can grind his way to a win off consistent 1-2s and low kicks and maybe some cage control. Brad Tavares by decision.
Staff picking du Plessis: Mookie, Stephie, Victor, Anton
Staff picking Tavares: Dayne, Zane
Uriah Hall vs. Andre Muniz
Mookie Alexander: Absolutely bracing for myself for Uriah to land some walloping shot that knocks Muniz into next week, but Muniz also just feels so stupidly strong and gifted as a grappler that if he can break Jacare’s arm, he can be the first to tap Uriah Hall. Andre Muniz by submission, round 1.
Zane Simon: Uriah Hall does seem to be in a better place in the cage these days, but it still almost always comes with a rough start and him battling his way through adversity to get into the fight. Given Muniz’s focus on power double legs and quick transitions to back control, and Hall’s tendency to immediately give up his back to stand, it seems very likely that Hall gets in a bad way from moment one. Andre Muniz via submission, round 1.
Staff picking Hall:
Staff picking Muniz: Mookie, Stephie, Victor, Anton, Dayne, Zane
Jessica Eye vs. Maycee Barber
Mookie Alexander: Eye is coming off a serious health problem and just straight up isn’t winning fights these days. Maycee Barber by decision.
Zane Simon: Maycee Barber is likely turning herself into the much more consistent, round winning fighter over time, but I’m not at all convinced she’s there yet. Her wins over Maverick and De La Rosa both ended up as low output affairs where her opponent’s lack of consistent offense allowed her to work her way to a win. It’s taken Eye a long time, but her fight against Jennifer Maia really showed a veteran understanding from Eye that she needed to match pace with her opponent and work behind her jab and kicks. Given that she’s pretty strong and hard to control, herself, if Eye can force Barber to just have a kickboxing bout with her, is that a fight Barber has the tools to win right now? Can’t believe I’m doing this, but I’ll take Jessica Eye by a very narrow decision.
Staff picking Eye: Victor, Zane
Staff picking Barber: Mookie, Stephie, Anton, Dayne
Jessica-Rose Clark vs. Julija Stoliarenko
Zane Simon: Jessica-Rose Clark should have this in the bag. All she needs to do is stay out at range, bounce into the pocket every now and then for a 1-2, and then slip back to distance. Unfortunately, Clark’s recent fights have shown an absolutely single-minded love affair with wrestling. Stoliarenko’s only real avenue to victory is an armbar from guard, and Clark will probably give her plenty of chances. I’ll take the Hail Mary pick, Julija Stoliarenko by armbar.
Staff picking Clark: Stephie, Victor, Anton
Staff picking Stoliarenko: Mookie, Dayne, Zane
This poll is closed
Adesanya and Volkanovski
Adesanya and Holloway
Cannonier and Volkanovski
Cannonier and Holloway