Israel Adesanya returns to defend his middleweight title tonight at UFC 276. The title fight will stream live only on ESPN+ PPV.
Adesanya is one of the top pound-for-pound fighters in mixed martial arts today and has already managed four successful title defenses since defeating Robert Whittaker to win the middleweight title in 2019. Cannonier is the #2 ranked middleweight contender and a deserving title challenger following wins against Derek Brunson and Kelvin Gastelum. Cannonier is 5-1 as a middleweight fighter after competing at both heavyweight and light heavyweight earlier in his career.
Read on for all of our play-by-play updates, live results, and highlights from Israel Adesanya vs Jared Cannonier at UFC 276.
Israel Adesanya vs Jared Cannonier play-by-play
Watch the fight live now or catch the full replay only on ESPN+ PPV.
See Adesanya’s special “Undertaker” themed walkout below
Here. He. Comes. ☠️[ @Stylebender | #UFC276 ] pic.twitter.com/Bv54ObOkyr
— UFC (@ufc) July 3, 2022
We’re underway. Cannonier’s leg kick misses. Adesanya lands one of his own. Cannonier advancing to start the fight. Adesanya patient as always but lands his second good leg kick. Now a front body kick lands for the champ. Cannonier lands a leg kick now. Cannonier’s plan seems to be to attack the legs of Adesanya. He’s connected with a few good kicks now.
Adesanya feinting and looking for openings. Nice 1-2 combination from Adesanya. Another leg kick from Cannonier. Adesanya’s high kicks have all been blocked so far. Cannonier said that he wouldn’t be frozen in front of Adesanya like his previous opponents, but it’s sure looking that way. He’s falling into the trap of a slow-paced, technical counter fight with Adesanya. The leg kicks are still working for him, however. And again. Adesanya high kick, Cannonier ducks to evade. Adesanya is landing all of his leg kicks so far. A nice right hand touches Cannonier on the chin. Slow first round.
Adesanya advancing now and he has Cannonier circling. They trade leg kicks. Slow start to round two and it looks much the same. Adesanya body kick then a leg kick. Straight left hand lands, too. Comfortable fight for Adesanya so far. Nice leg kick from Adesanya as Cannonier tries to counter with a strong left hand but misses. A flash of power from the challenger, however.
Halfway through the round and Adesanya’s in control. The UFC broadcast shows Alex Pereira on-screen as he’s sitting cageside watching the fight following his victory earlier in the night. Not a lot of is happening inside the cage, so the UFC decides to show what’s happening outside.
Adesanya lifts his pace temporarily. He lands some strong punches but then an eye poke from Adesanya causes a break in the action. Adesanya has been warned several times already for keeping his fingers extended.
Cannonier body kick and Adesanya counters with a kick of his own. Now he’s working Cannonier’s legs. Cannonier returns a leg kick. Another one from the challenger. Adesanya lands a left straight and backs Cannonier up. A 1-2 to end the round and then a bit of banter between the two before they head back to the corner.
Adesanya more active to start round three. Just misses with a strong front kick to the head. Cannonier is flat-footed and Adesanya is working his legs now. The champion has had control of the range so far in this fight. Cannonier attempts a takedown and rushes Adesanya back to the cage but Adesanya escapes the attempt and moves back to the center.
Good to see something a little different from Cannonier — even if it was unsuccessful. He tries something new again and this time he closes the distance and lands several hooks to the head of Adesanya while almost at clinch range. Then they clinch, he lands more, and Adesanya escapes and circles. Cannonier is finally trying to do something that could help him win the fight and we’ve crossed just a little past halfway through the fight now.
The challenger is looking better now as he’s less hesitant with his strikes and starting to open up more. Adesanya still looks in control as he sticks and moves. Cannonier now backs the champion to the cage. He clinches with an underhook and starts striking the thigh of Adesanya with his knee.
Adesanya jabbing to start round four. Front body kick now and an outside leg kick from the champion. Slow pace during the fight. Adesanya picking and choosing his shots. Landing occasionally with some body kicks now. Occasional straight punch sneaks through but not a lot of action. Cannonier now attempts a takedown. He has an underhook and marches Adesanya back to the cage. Not much happening for him there.
They reset. Adesanya keeping his distance and moving well. It’s a good display of defense but there hasn’t been a lot of offense at this point. Cannonier attempts an elbow in the clinch but it just misses. No fighter has had a real significant impact during the fight.
Not much of a fight. Think Adesanya won that round.
Cannonier comes out and lands a right overhand. Where has this been all night? He’s showing signs of aggression and moves forward, landing a body kick. Slows down almost immediately though and we’re back to the slow pace from before.
The crowd starts to boo as Cannonier clinches with Adesanya against the cage. It’s been tough to do play-by-play for this one, honestly. Adesanya is a masterful striker but there hasn’t been a lot of action to comment on so far.
And suddenly Cannonier lands two good punches with less than two minutes remaining. He’s pressuring the champion now and taking risks. Far too late though.
Official Result: Israel Adesanya def. Jared Cannonier via unanimous decision (49-46, 49-46, 50-45)
— UFC (@ufc) July 3, 2022
Formerly the lead MMA Editor at RealSport.