New Zealand fight fans now know when UFC middleweight champ Israel Adesanya will defend the gold next – and it’s on an absolute stacker of a fight card.
The City Kickboxing fighter is now confirmed as UFC 276’s main event, and will face the man who has been on his radar for some time, #2 ranked middleweight Jared Cannonier (15 wins, five losses).
The fighters were on the same card in separate fights in UFC 271. Adesanya defended well against Ngāpuhi fighter Robert Whittaker in the second fight of their rivalry, while Cannonier impressed with a TKO over Derek Brunson.
'The Last Stylebender's form is still undefeated in the middleweight division but he has recorded one loss after failing to obtain the light heavyweight title to become a two-division champ in March 2021 from then-titleholder Jan Blachowicz.
‘Tha Killa Gorilla’ has recorded a victory before his Brunson win, getting the judges to score in his favour over Kelvin Gastelum. One fight before that he had lost to Robert Whittaker back in October 2020.
Confirmed as the card’s co-main event is fellow City Kickboxing teammate Alex Volkanovski. ‘The Great’ featherweight champion gets to finally make the trilogy happen as he faces off against octagon veteran Max Holloway (23-6). The first fight saw Max lose his title to Volkanovski by unanimous decision in late 2019, and the rematch came closer but still in Alex’s favour via a split decision to retain the belt in mid-2020.
Volkanovski has defended his featherweight successfully three times, the other two coming by victories over Brian Ortega and Chang Sung Jung aka ‘The Korean Zombie’.
No other fights, apart from Blood Diamond's UFC 275 bout, have been made for City Kickboxing's UFC fighters, as of late." But #2-ranked flyweight contender and Te Ao Toa presenter Kai Kara-France is still hoping to be next in line for his division’s top prize, having previously defeated undefeated Dagestan fighter Askar Askarov earlier in March to make the top five rankings.
Victorious, but 'tarnished'
In the Professional Fighters League, Genah Fabian (Waikato-Tainui) took to the octagon against Julia Budd, winning by unanimous decision and scoring 29-28 by all three judges.
Though Fabian (4-2) got the win on the PFL 3 2022 preliminary card, she failed to make the lightweight weight limit and started the season with -1, automatically deducted, and Budd (16-3) was awarded three points in the league's lightweight standings.
Speaking to media after defeating her Canadian opponent, Fabian thanked her corner and Budd for the fight, but says that the win was tarnished due to the weight miss.
“The consequences of that, I have to take on the chin, because it’s not acceptable.
“It’s something I’m not proud of. I’m really fortunate to the PFL that they were amazing in pushing to have this fight still happen, as well as my opponent. I really want to thank her for still accepting to fight me because I could have lost out, big time, by not being able to fight.”
Wilson goes pro
Elsewhere in the United States, Māori MMA fighter and up-and-comer, Hakaraia Wilson confirmed days ago via Instagram that he will be making his pro debut.
The Te Arawa and Tūhoe descendant has booked his first pro fight against welterweight Tyler Escoto at Cage Warriors 139, being held in sunny San Diego, California on June 10 [June 11 NZ time]. Escoto has had one loss in his pro career, having lost his debut last year in October. Wilson recorded his last amateur fight with a KO over Marquise Black at 559 Fights 84 back in February.
Since his time in the States, Wilson has been training with fellow Māori Bellator fighter ‘The Māori Kid’ Jay Jay Wilson. He also had a wrestling session with UFC fan-favourite scouser Paddy ‘The Baddy’ Pimblett, the latter of whom wowed London fans in the UFC’s return to the UK back in March.
Wilson’s fight will be shown live to subscribers of UFC Fight Pass.