ZB

The key reason Adesanya is brimming with confidence ahead of title defence

Author
Christopher Reive,
Publish Date
Sat, 2 Jul 2022, 1:56pm
Israel Adesanya will put his UFC middleweight title on the line against Jared Cannonier at UFC 276. (Photo / Getty Images)
Israel Adesanya will put his UFC middleweight title on the line against Jared Cannonier at UFC 276. (Photo / Getty Images)

The key reason Adesanya is brimming with confidence ahead of title defence

Author
Christopher Reive,
Publish Date
Sat, 2 Jul 2022, 1:56pm

Ahead of his fifth defence of the UFC's undisputed middleweight championship, there is no shortage of confidence in Israel Adesanya. 

Having turned away everyone in his weight class who has looked to halt his momentum through 11 bouts in the division, the 32-year-old knows what he is capable of when he steps foot inside the octagon. 

Across those bouts, Adesanya has met the vast array of skill sets that make mixed martial arts such an intriguing sport. He's seen quality wrestlers, elite strikers, black belts in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and power punchers. 

So, when Cannonier steps in across from him at UFC 276 in Las Vegas on Sunday looking to do what all other middleweights have failed to so far, Adesanya has a fair idea of what is going to be coming his way. 

"I don't feel so," Adesanya responded when asked if Cannonier presented any challenges he was yet to face inside the UFC cage. 

"I'm being dead serious - I don't feel so. If I'm being silly and I get caught slipping, that's on me. If it's meant to be, it's all up to me. There's nothing he does that I've never seen before, not even in the grappling, I don't feel so." 

While Cannonier (15-5) has proven he has a well-rounded skillset, it's his power that usually gets the job done for him. Since moving to middleweight after stints at heavyweight and light heavyweight, he has used that to great effect for five wins in six bouts. His sole loss in the division came at the hands of Robert Whittaker, one of the division's elite strikers, who used elite movement and range management to dictate the fight and not give Cannonier the time or space to land a fight-changing blow. 

This weekend's bout between Cannonier and Adesanya will be just the third time Cannonier has headlined a UFC card, but easily the biggest stage of his career. 

For Adesanya, it will be his eighth time headlining a UFC pay-per view card – and ninth headline spot in 13 bouts with the promotion to middleweight - and his eighth-straight bout with a UFC title on the line. 

When asked about any differences heading into the fight, Adesanya said it would be Cannonier experiencing something he had never done so before, and that could ultimately work against him. 

"I like having to rise to the occasion. That's the difference. I'm used to the spotlight; I'm used to all this s***. He's not. He's new to it. I feel like he's man enough, mature enough to handle it, but not like me," Adesanya said. 

Adesanya's bout against Cannonier will cap off a massive card for the Oceania region, with Australian featherweight champion Alexander Volkanovski in the co-main event, with Kiwi lightweight Brad Riddell and Australian bantamweight Jessica-Rose Clark also in action. 

UFC 276 

T-Mobile Arena, Las Vegas. Sunday. 

Early prelims - ft. Jessica-Rose Clark (UFC Fight Pass) - 10am 

Prelims - ft. Brad Riddell (ESPN, Prime, Sky Sport Now, UFC Fight Pass) - 12pm 

Main card (pay-per-view) - ft. Israel Adesanya; Alexander Volkanovski (Sky Arena, Spark Sport, Sky Sport Now, UFC Fight Pass) - 2pm