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UFC 276: Quick picks and prognostications

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MMA Junkie analyst Dan Tom breaks down the UFC’s top bouts. Today, we look at the main card for UFC 276.

UFC 276 takes place Saturday at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. The main card airs on pay-per-view following prelims on ABC/ESPN and early prelims on ESPN+.

Last event’s results: 4-2

Overall picks for UFC main cards in 2022: 61-34

Welcome to MMAJunkie’s Quick Picks and Prognostications, where I’ll be giving brief, fight-day breakdowns for UFC main cards.

With that in mind, I hope these write-ups don’t come off as curt or dismissive, as my goal here is to offer quick picks and analysis in a digestible format. All odds listed are provided by Tipico Sportsbook.

If you’d like more detailed analysis from me, then feel free to check out my weekly show, The Protect Ya’ Neck Podcast.

So, without further ado…

Matchup: Pedro Munhoz (+225) vs. Sean O'Malley (-300)

Summary: Kicking off the main card in style is a banger at bantamweight between [autotag]Pedro Munhoz[/autotag] and [autotag]Sean O’Malley[/autotag].

Although the gambler in me wants to back Munhoz at his current price tag given his submission grappling edge and propensity to lean into leg kicks, I have a hard time ignoring the damage he tends to take from straight punches. And for as much hype as O’Malley seems to garner, it’s hard to deny the serious skills he brings to the table.

It’s a dog or pass spot from a betting perspective, but I’ll officially side with O’Malley to stay long and punish Munhoz down the stretch for a clear win on the scorecards.

Matchup: Robbie Lawler (-110) vs. Bryan Barberena (-114)

Summary: In what has all the makings for a classic welterweight war, I’m happy to see both [autotag]Robbie Lawler[/autotag] and [autotag]Bryan Barberena[/autotag] make it onto the main card.

Despite Lawler having a clear edge in experience and a better record against fellow southpaws (standing at 5-4 against UFC-level opposition as opposed to Barberena’s 0-2), I find myself going the other way in this spot.

Lawler should win this fight more often than not, but I believe that Barberena can survive the initial storms and outwork the former champion at this stage of “Brutal Bob’s” career. Barberena is also crafty in the clinch with his elbows, as I have a sneaky suspicion that he can force a cut stoppage by the end of the second round.

Matchup: Sean Strickland (-135) vs. Alex Pereira (+105)

Summary: Serving as an intriguing matchup for the middleweight title picture is a meeting between [autotag]Sean Strickland[/autotag] and [autotag]Alex Pereira[/autotag].

Despite being someone who typically sides with experience over hype, I find myself siding with the former kickboxer over the experienced MMA fighter.

Perhaps I’m guilty of over-correcting the steering wheel away from my biases given that my friend, the great Eric Nicksick, will be in Strickland’s corner, but I can’t help but see Pereira’s patent left hook having play this Saturday.

Strickland could certainly take his Brazilian foe to school from the jump, but I’ll reluctantly pick Pereira to survive the American’s early offerings in order to score a knockout come the second round.

Matchup: Alexander Volkanovski (-205) vs. Max Holloway (+155)

Summary: The co-main event for UFC 276 features an epic trilogy fight for the featherweight title between [autotag]Alexander Volkanovski[/autotag] and [autotag]Max Holloway[/autotag].

It can be easy to pull your hair out trying to forecast every possible intangible and adjustment in a fight at this high a level, but I did my best to highlight their history and potential pathways in my latest in-depth breakdown.

Although I’m officially siding with Volkanovski to stymie Holloway down the stretch for a decision win, the betting value will be on the Hawaiian considering that we’re probably in for another close fight.

Matchup: Israel Adesanya (-500) vs. Jared Cannonier (+340)

Summary: As stated in my in-depth breakdown, the main event in Las Vegas features a middleweight title fight between [autotag]Israel Adesanya[/autotag] and [autotag]Jared Cannonier[/autotag] that’s been a long time in the making.

Cannonier, who has been on the champion’s radar for some time, has looked stellar (outside of his fight with Robert Whittaker) since moving down to middleweight.

That said, regardless of what weight class Cannonier has competed at, he has traditionally struggled against fighters who can both jab and counter (particularly from the southpaw stance). Considering that Adesanya can technically check all of those boxes, I’ll side with him to retain his title with a knockout come the early-to-middle rounds.

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