UFC 276 betting: Picks, predictions, odds for stacked card including Adesanya-Cannonier, Volkanovski-Holloway 3

·Combat columnist
·4 min read

LAS VEGAS — The middleweight bout Saturday between Sean Strickland and Alex Pereira on the main card of UFC 276 at T-Mobile Arena may be flying under the radar of casual fans, but hardcore fans know this bout should be the favorite for Fight of the Night.

Pereira is in a prime position on the card, as the final bout before the title fights, because of his history with middleweight champion Israel Adesanya. Pereira is only 2-0 in the UFC and 5-1 in his MMA career. Make no mistake, though, that he’s a fight game veteran.

He was a two-weight class world champion as a kickboxer and has two wins over Adesanya in that sport, including one by violent knockout.

Adesanya, who fights Jared Cannonier in the main event, has gone on to become one of the world’s elite mixed martial artists, and is ranked second on the Yahoo Sports’ pound-for-pound ratings. A win by both on Saturday would put Pereira in Adesanya’s path for a bout at some point down the road.

So Pereira needs to not only win, but look good in doing it against Strickland to show he’s capable of fighting at Adesanya’s level in MMA. And the UFC gave him a match that will enable him to capitalize on his strengths as a striker.

Pereira hasn’t attempted a takedown in his two UFC fights yet. Strickland is primarily a striker, though he has a more well-rounded game at this stage and as recently as two fights ago in a win over Uriah Hall, Strickland was 4-for-6 on takedowns.

Pereira is a slight favorite at BetMGM, coming in at -120, with Strickland at even money. That’s a great nod to Pereira’s striking, because Strickland has been on a roll, winning six in a row and seven of his last eight.

Strickland has fought far better competition in MMA, beating Jack Hermansson and Hall in his last two fights. He lost a decision to current welterweight champion Kamaru Usman at UFC 210.

The fight may well come down to Pereira’s ability to keep the fight standing. He’s been taken down four times in 15 attempts in his two UFC fights, a respectable figure. If Strickland can take him down, then the chances of a Strickland win by ground-and-pound finish increase.

But if they essentially have a kickboxing match, the pendulum swings to Pereira.

I’m going to lay the -120 on Pereira as the more pedigreed athlete and take him to win. The potential for a finish is there, but both guys take a good shot and Pereira is moving up in class in opposition in MMA. Thus, I’ll bet that the fight goes the three-round distance at +125.

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - JUNE 21: Alexander Volkanovski and Israel Adesanya pose during a media opportunity in promotion of UFC 276 (Adesanya v Cannonier) and UFC 277 (Pena v Nunes), at The Star on June 21, 2022 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images for UFC)
Champions Alexander Volkanovski and Israel Adesanya head into their UFC 276 title defenses as betting favorites. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images for UFC)

In the co-main event, featherweight champion Alexander Volkanovski meets ex-champion Max Holloway for the third time after Volkanovski won by decision at UFC 245 in 2019 and at UFC 251 in 2020.

Volkanovski has been bet up to a -200 favorite at BetMGM, with Holloway at +165. Holloway is one of the elite strikers in MMA, as well as one of the best overall fighters in the sport. It’s hard not to side with him at that plus money.

That said, Volkanovski showed in his previous two fights he has a lot of ways to win. In the first, he battered Holloway’s legs with calf kicks. In the rematch, he fell behind early and used his wrestling down the stretch to win.

He’s also improving his hands, as he showed in battering Chan Sung Jung the last time out.

This fight is a coin flip and that should lead me to Holloway at the plus money. But I think Volkanovski’s wrestling could be critical here and I’ll lay the -200 on him to win.

In the main event, Adesanya is now up to a -450 favorite at BetMGM. I think he wins the fight, but that’s too much to lay, particularly against an opponent with knockout power like Cannonier. Cannonier is attractive at +325, but not enough to make me bet on him.

So I’ll pass on the sides and I’ll bet the fight ends in a knockout. BetMGM has the fight ending in a KO/TKO/DQ at -105, a submission at +900 and a decision at -120.

Given both guys have pop, I like KO at -105. I also feel like Adesanya has something to prove and will look to make a statement. If he catches Cannonier clean, he’ll finish him.

Other bets for UFC 276

• I’ll take Pedro Munhoz as a value play at +250 to win over Sean O’Malley (-300). O’Malley will control the fight when it’s fought at a distance, but if Munhoz cuts the distances and gets close to him, it changes the bout.

• I’ll take Brad Riddell at +115 to win over Jalin Turner (-140).