UFC best bets: Adesanya-Cannonier

June 28, 2022 07:52 PM

Our 2022 UFC calendar year reaches the halfway mark with the arrival of International fight week and UFC 276 on Saturday in Las Vegas at T-Mobile Arena. This fight card features two five-round title fights on the 12-bout card.

With high-caliber athletes competing in the 30-foot cage in front of a full house of voracious fight fans, this card is certain to entertain.

Last week Mario Bautista, -155 a rare favorite released on Insight the Octagon, submitted his opponent in the first round, which adds a unit of profit to this year’s bottom line.

2022 profitability: 14-8 + 5.59 units

Israel Adesanya (-380) vs. Jared Cannonier (+ 310)

Middleweights (185 pounds) | Main event

The champion Adesanya is a most accomplished kickboxing talent complimented with developing BJJ skills and a fluidity of movement that manifests itself in him being able to attack from every angle on offense while simultaneously using his athleticism, footwork and head movement as a basis for his dynamic defense.

He has soundly defeated four decorated, accomplished middleweights in Yoel Romero, Paulo Costa, Marvin Vettori and Robert Whittaker.

The sole loss of career came last March when he jumped up to fight then-champion Jan Blachowicz at light heavyweight in an experiment that he’s unlikely to repeat. Blachowicz was able to use his size and strength to control Adesanya on the floor and neutralize his length and striking dominance.

Adesanya has cobra-like speed, quickness and delivery with his strikes and kicks, and I expect him to try to fend off his forward-pressing opponent with a heavy use of kicks. Adesanya must keep fights at distance and on the feet in order to control opponents as Blachowicz proved.

Fighting in the larger 30-foot cage is a plus for a fighter like Adesanya who controls distance in order to dominate from afar, so this seems like a positive setup for the champion.

Cannonier, ranked No. 2, presents a unique challenge to Adesanya in that he has fought at and finished opponents in three divisions — heavyweight, light heavyweight and now middleweight.

Cannonier has won four of his last five fights, but he’ll be at height, reach and age disadvantages on Saturday night. Where Adesanya uses fluidity of movement and footwork aplenty, Cannonier is more direct, forceful and aggressive. He does not have the ability to move as nimbly as his opponent, so the task is to figure out a way to get inside in order to inflict damage.

Gaining inside position on Adesanya has been the plan of all of his opponents, so what is Cannonier's path to victory? How will he be any different than the other four middleweights?

Cannonier is not quite as fleet as the champ, but he is more powerful and destructive. Effective low kicks must do early and immediate damage to Adesanya.

Angelo Dundee used to teach that “If you kill the body, the head will follow” and I believe the Cannonier camp first tries to bludgeon the champs’ legs to impede his ability to move fluidly. Then, when the champion's movement is squelched. Cannonier must force his way inside and administer as brutal a body attack as possible.

Negating Adesanya’s movement is priority one, then softening his midsection once inside the pocket with ferocious hooks, crosses and knees is mandatory. Finally, he should try dragging the champion to the floor where Cannonier’s strength, size and wrestling can overpower a fighter who is not comfortable on his back.

Cannonier is the most viable threat to Adesanya to date. He has all the tools to be able to wrest this title from the champ, but the task will not be easy. Look for a most competitive bout in the main event.

Play: Cannonier + 310

Total in this fight: 4.5 rounds Over -125

Alexander Volkanovski (-180) vs. Max Holloway (+ 155)

Featherweights (145 pounds) | Co-main event

These two know each other well as this is their third five-round championship bout. Volkanovski won the title from Holloway in 2019, then defended it in 2020. Volkanovski has won each fight by decision. The second fight was razor close, and while I had Volkanovski winning, I wouldn’t argue with anyone who scored the fight for Holloway.

They are both 2-0 since their last meeting. Holloway painted Calvin Kattar’s fence in a most impressive performance before he decisioned Yair Rodriguez in his most recent fight. That performance left me with serious reservations about Holloway’s championship effectiveness.

Volkanovski on the other hand-battered Brian Ortega, then followed that up with a dominant prep fight for this one against the Korean Zombie, a fighter on the other side of his prime.

I expect another competitive bout, but I am skeptical about Holloway’s fight condition. I believe I have seen an ebb in his crispness, sharpness and effectiveness. His result against Rodriguez should not have been a closely contested decision.

The damage Holloway has taken in his many previous wars is something I can’t overlook. I believe Volkanovski will not only earn victory but may well be able to earn it in decisive fashion.

At 29, Holloway’s quickness, sharpness and dynamic are compromised and I believe it will show against Volkanovski. There may be some Holloway line movement later in the week, so I’ll hold tight before committing to a position as I also want to review this fight’s prop menu for price advantages.

Total in this fight: 4.5 rounds -200 Over

Jim Miller (-225) vs. Donald Cerrone (+ 185)

Welterweights (170 pounds)

This is a rematch of a 2014 main event bout in which the young and vicious Cerrone finished Miller in the second round with a head kick and strike. In that fight, Cerrone was the -225 or so favorite, and it’s important to note that their fight was a lightweight bout.

Fast forward to today and as the chalk we have Miller -225. Miller should be the favorite, but current pricing seems too premium on Miller. He’s won his last two bouts and has arguably been fighting his best recently, but he’s a natural lightweight, in fact he’s on the smaller side in the division.

The fact that Miller agreed to compete at welterweight indicates that he had to negotiate in order to save his bout as he was originally scheduled to face Bobby Green. Miller and camp may have negotiated poorly.

Fighting at welterweight after having his previous three lightweight bouts canceled because of bad luck provides Cerrone, winless in his last five UFC bouts with an advantage he would not possess had this fight remained at lightweight.

Miller should be a decent favorite in a lightweight bout, but at welterweight I can’t regard him as any higher than -150.

This fight is priced as if they were competing at 155 pounds.

Motivation? There’s high motivation for each athlete as the winner will own the title of athlete with the most UFC wins in history.

Lean: Cerrone

Total in this fight: No total as of midday Tuesday because of the short notice for this bout

“GambLou’s ’Bout Business Podcast” drops Friday afternoon. Access it on any podcast platform.

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