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Sunday, July 3, 2022 – Israel Adesanya retained his middleweight title with an effortless victory over Jared Cannonier at UFC 276, on Saturday night at T-Mobile Arena on the Vegas Strip.
Adesanya, who’s no stranger to getting creative for his walkouts, came out with a black hat and the urn for his walk to the octagon for his title defense against Jared Cannonier. The urn was emblazoned with the name “Jared” on the front.
After the epic intro, Adesanya went on to a unanimous decision victory, his fifth consecutive title defense at 185 pounds.
The champion adopted a kick-heavy approach in the opening stages as Cannonier swung and missed with an overhand right. Adesanya increased the pace at the start of the second round as he effortlessly switched stances to land his ram-rod jab. And just as the Sin City crowd began to grow restless, Adesanya began to put his punches together before the fight was paused when Cannonier was poked in the eye.
Cannonier’s right eye had started to swell up by the third round but the challenger adopted a more aggressive approach as the title fight hit the halfway mark. He managed to pin Adesanya to the cage but the champion slithered out of danger.
Adesanya snapped back Cannonier’s head with another unerring jab at the start of the fourth session as he continued to dominate. The challenger was able to land a lone right hand midway through the round but his successes were few and far between as the crowd grew restless again.
Cannonier’s corner told him he was down three rounds to one going into the final stoppage, meaning the American needed a stoppage to win the title. Adesanya was content to coast through the last five minutes, much to the chagrin of the 19,000 fans in the T-Mobile Arena. And Cannonier offered little thread as his title challenge fizzled out.
Adesanya won on all three judges’ scorecards, 50-45, 49-46 and 49-46. He has never lost a UFC middleweight fight, but he has just one stoppage victory in his five 185-pound fights since 2019.
“It was really hard to get going, because they had an excellent game plan,” Adesanya said.
Coming in, ESPN had Adesanya ranked No. 3 in the world on its pound-for-pound list. At middleweight, Adesanya was ranked No. 1 and Cannonier is No. 3.
Next up for Adesanya could be Alex Pereira, who knocked out Sean Strickland on Saturday’s undercard. Pereira owns two kickboxing wins over Adesanya, including one by knockout.
“He had an excellent gameplan; it was really hard to get my follow-ups going, my second phases going,” reflected the champion before calling out bitter rival Alex Pereira who holds two wins over the champion, albeit in the kickboxing ranks. “You know who’s next,” continued Adesanya. “The first time, I told you, was an error on my part. Next time I put you on skates, you’re going to be frozen.”