UFC 276 PREVIEW
The July 4th weekend PPV has become something of a milestone event for the UFC. UFC 276 will be shown by pay-TV broadcaster BT Sport.
If we look at the last six years, there’s an argument to be made that five of them saw the UFC’s biggest card of the year take place in and around July 4. In 2016, it was the UFC 200 megacard. While that card didn’t really deliver, it was designed to be monstrous and was originally scheduled to be headlined by Conor McGregor. In 2017 we have the outlier with Yoel Romero headlining against Robert Whitaker, but that card was meant to feature multiple title fights that fell by the wayside because of injuries.
In 2018 it became undeniable the biggest card of the year. The Superfight, Heavyweight Champion Stipe Miocic defending against Light-Heavyweight Champions Daniel Cormier, headlined a strong card. In 2019 Jon Jones and Amanda Nunes defended their titles in the co-main events, while Jorge Masvidal faced Ben Askren in a grudge match. The 2020 card was another outstanding line up with Usman vs Masvidal and Volkanovski vs Holloway in their second fight. And then last year, the biggest star the sport has ever seen took centre stage with Conor McGregor headlining against Dustin Poirier in their rubber match.
Even the first true supercard the UFC ever put together, UFC 100, took place July 11th.
In the middle of Summer, with the NFL, NHL and NBA in their off season, European football on their summer break and MLB just grinding through the dog days of summer, the UFC have taken this little part of the year as their own. The time when they can dominate much of the news cycle around sports.
This weekend they have put together a card that promises to be explosive with must-see fights on all three levels of the card.
The main event of the early prelims sees veteran striker Uriah Hall, who rarely has a boring fight, take on submission specialist Andre Muniz who is 4-0 since joining the UFC and has won his last three fights by submission. Hall will want to keep this fight standing and will hunt the KO, while Muniz’s plan is clear. Get it to the ground, get it finished.
On the prelim show there’s a fight for the old school fans as two UFC veterans, two men who will end up in the UFC Hall of Fame, go head to head in a rematch of their 2014 battle. Jim Miller has been in the UFC since 2008. He entered the organisation with an 11-1 record. He will make the walk for the 40th time under the UFC banner this weekend. 40 fights over 12 years, and rarely a boring outing. Jim Miller has gone 23-15 under the UFC banner, with one no contest, and while he’s never earned a title shot he has earned the respect of every fan who’s been lucky enough to see him fight.
His opponent will be Donald Cerrone who first fought in the UFC in 2011 but had spent the previous four years fighting for sister promotion the WEC. This will be Cerrone’s 38th fight in the organization. He had been scheduled to fight Joe Lauzon, a fight that was scheduled three different times but fell through each time, and now steps in as a late injury replacement to take on Miller for the second time. Cerrone won the first contest by a second round KO and will be hoping to repeat the trick.
The main card is just loaded. First up is Sugar Sean O’Malley taking on Pedro Munhoz in what should be an exciting Bantamweight clash. O’Malley has recovered brilliant from his first career loss to win three in a row, all by stoppage, and earned performance awards for each of them. O’Malley is a box office fighter and six of his eight UFC fights have seen him take home performance bonuses.
The next two fights will be slugfests. First former UFC Welterweight Champion Robbie Lawler will take on hard-hitting Bryan Barberena in a fight that might not last long. Both men are capable of ending it in the blink of an eye. Lawler’s most recent fight against Nick Diaz is his only win since 2017 and a defeat to Barberena might see him call time on a fantastic career. Barberena is not of the same calibre of fighter that Lawler has spent most of his career going against, and will be seen as a heavy underdog going into Saturday.
Then it’s Sean Strickland vs Alex Pereira. Strickland has won six fights in a row and looks to be one more win away from a title shot. He’s in the best form of his career and has begun talking up his chances of winning the title. Standing in his way is a world class kickboxer who holds not one but two KO victories in kickboxing over current UFC Middleweight Champion Israel Adesanya. Pereira is 2-0 in the UFC and his debut was an incredible showcase of his striking ability. If Strickland decides to stand and trade with Pereira, as good as he is in striking himself, then he may well find himself asleep in the cage. It would be smart of him to look for takedowns, it’s not his game but it’s smarter than going toe to toe with a truly world class striker.
The co-main event of the evening is the third meeting between UFC Featherweight Champion Alexander Volkanovski and former Champion Max Holloway. These two met for the first time in December of 2019 in what was Holloway’s fourth title defence. Volkanovski used his speed and leg kicks to chop his way through Holloway en route to a Unanimous Decision victory. The rematch came in the card mentioned above in 2020 where Volkanovski retained his title in a razor thin Split Decision. This was a controversial result as many observers felt Holloway had done enough to reclaim the throne.
They were scheduled to meet earlier this year at UFC 272 but Holloway was forced out with an injury and Volkanovski dominated Chan Sung Jung who stepped in as a replacement. He finished the Korean Zombie in the fourth round after previously scoring three knockdowns. Volkanovski seems to be getting better with each passing fight, growing in confidence and adding to his skillset. To add to his elite striking, he’s also a black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. That makes him a duel threat fighter and we may see him look to utilize his ground game in this contest, though it’s worth remembering that Holloway is no slouch on the ground himself.
Holloway is in a difficult spot if he loses. It’s unlikely the UFC would sanction a fourth fight between these two men if Volkanovski already holds three wins over his opponent so that may relegate Max to the unwanted role of gatekeeper. He’s too small to successfully move up in weight and be a real contender at 155, and he doesn’t appear capable of cutting to 135. His only path back to the title might be to put together a run of wins and hope someone else beats Alexander The Great.
City Kickboxing in Auckland, New Zealand was not a gym that was known on the global scale five years ago but right now it might be the hottest gym in all of MMA. It’s the gym where Volkanovski does the bulk of his training. The stable of fighters making names for themselves in the UFC includes the current number two contender for the the Flyweight title Kai Kara-France and long time UFC competitor Dan Hooker. It’s also still home to the fighter that really put it on the map, UFC Middleweight Champion Israel Adesanya.
The Last Stylebender replaced Anderson Silva as the most must-see striker in the UFC when he burst onto the scene at UFC 221 and destroyed Rob Wilkinson. Fourteen months later he won the interim title by defeating Kelvin Gastelum in a brawl, and six months after that he walked into enemy territory and rendered Australia’s Robert Whitaker unconscious infront of a raucous Melbourne crowd. He has made four successful defenses of his title and this weekend he will aim for number five when he takes on Jared Cannonier.
Cannonier entered the UFC in 2015 as a Heavyweight in a losing effort against Shawn Jordan. In late 2016 he made the decision to cut to Light-Heavyweight after going 1-1 in his UFC career to that point. Five fights at Light-Heavyweight saw Cannonier hold a 3-4 record in the UFC. Three of those defeats had come against elite level fighters at 205 but Cannonier appeared destined for a UFC exit if he couldn’t turn things around. His path to success? Going down in weight again. Cannonier entered the Middleweight ranks in November of 2018 and in six fights in the 185 division he holds a record of 5-1, which improves him to an 8-5 UFC record and a career of 15-5 mark.
Cannonier and Adesanya have some common opponents. Both men lost to Jan Blachowicz at 205. Both men defeated Kelvin Gastelum at 185. Where they differ is in their results against Robert Whitaker. Adesanya holds two wins over the former Middleweight Champion, including a Unanimous Decision victory in February of this year, while Cannonier lost a decision to the Australian in October of 2020. MMA maths doesn’t mean anything though, so the results of those fights will have no impact on this one. Adesanya will be a heavy favourite, and will have the advantage in the striking department, but Cannonier shouldn’t be overlooked. The Killa Gorilla, now 38 years of age, has overcome plenty of adversity in his career and knows this will be his only shot at the title. A win on Saturday night would change his life.
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How to watch UFC 276 from anywhere…
The UFC 276 main card will start at 3am UK time on Sunday, July 3. Unfortunately, it is another late one for British MMA fans. However, there will be plenty of time to warm up to the action.
As ever, BT Sport will broadcast the coverage of a UFC event for UK audiences. As a result, you will need a BT Sport subscription in order to catch the action.
UFC 276 will be streamed live on BT Sport as well as their respective apps for iPhone, iPad, Android, Smart TV, Now TV, FireTV etc.
But these streaming services are not available to everyone, for example when you load BT Sport in the USA, Germany, Ireland, Netherlands, France, Spain, Portugal, Australia, Dubai, Canada etc. you will get an error message.
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This is basically because their streaming services are geoblocked based on the IP address being used to access it. You must be a UK domestic web user to access BT Sport, Sky Sports, Amazon Prime UK and BBC Sport live tv streaming.
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How can I watch UFC 276 live?
BT Sport typically show football games in the weekly Saturday lunchtime slot but they do show additional matches. You can sign up for a BT Sport subscription or pick up a contract-free BT Sport monthly pass for £25.
BT Sport will also carry coverage of the UEFA Champions’ League and Europa League until 2024. Subscribers can watch BT Sport on their computers as well as their various apps on connected devices. They do offer a Monthly Pass with no contract, which will give customers access to the BT Sport mobile app.
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Furthermore; BT Sport isn’t the only geographically-censored streaming services a VPN or Proxy will allow you to access. Other UK services like Sky Sports, Amazon Prime, BBC iPlayer, ITV Hub, All 4 and BritBox are available. Plus with the option to switch to our USA service whenever you like, you can access Hulu, HBO GO, Netflix and Pandora. Essentially you can access international content from virtually anywhere!