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Nate Diaz slaps an MMA reporter backstage at UFC 276

Diaz was present at the recent pay-per-view where Israel Adesanya defended his middleweight title via unanimous decision against Jared Cannonier in the main event. (Author: Gardener)

Nate DiazNate Diaz warned an MMA reporter to "watch your tweets about me" before slapping him backstage at UFC 276 on Saturday night. Before the action even started, MMA journalist "OG" Shawny Mack tried to catch up with Diaz, and the conversation seemed to start cordially. Introducing the UFC veteran to his viewers, Mack said, "Stockton's best Nate Diaz, he's coming to see 'Sugar' Sean [O'Malley] right?" "Oh, I know," Mack replied with a smile on his face, but Diaz wasn't done yet, slapping the mic away with his left hand before hitting Mack over the head with his right and knocking the reporter's cap off the back of his neck in the process . It's unclear exactly what Mack tweeted that angered Diaz, who has become known for using his "Stockton swatter" during his fights. He famously used that punch when tipping over the odds of beating Conor McGregor in their first fight in March 2016. However, Diaz has struggled to get fights in recent years and has only been seen in the octagon four times since that win over McGregor. He hasn't fought in over a year and recently lashed out at the UFC on social media. “UFC release please now or give me a fight with anyone in July or August.

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How Alex Volkanovski's Weird Prediction for Holloway's UFC Fight Came True

The featherweight king was asked to sketch what Holloway would look like in a promotional stunt after their UFC 276 fight - and he made an amazingly accurate prediction. (Author: Gardener)

Alex Volkanovski'sAlex Volkanovski made a very accurate prediction of how Max Holloway would emerge from their title shot at UFC 276 — and he didn't even have to say a word. The Australian featherweight champion tumbled to a unanimous decision in Las Vegas on Sunday, never losing a round to his old foe in a dominant performance in their trilogy bout. Volkanovski and other stars on the card were asked to sketch their opponents before the event kicked off with a UFC act of "putting the art into martial artist" - and he hit the nail on the head with his drawing. The finished product showed Holloway with a series of stitches above his blackened left eye, a cut below his right eye, plump lips and another cut on the right side of his forehead - and it was very close to the mark. The American suffered one of the worst cuts seen in the octagon when Volkanovski hit him over the left eye with a right hand in the second round. But that wasn't the only similarity to the Australian's sketch - Holloway also had a minor cut under his right eye, a bloody mouth and a wound on the right side of his forehead, just as predicted. "He has an odd shaped head, sorry," Volkanovski says in the video while creating his artwork. Inflicting all that damage came at a price, however, as the champion revealed after the fight that he broke his left hand in the second round. "I told the corner and they just said, 'Hey, I don't want you to say that again' ... so I said, 'Ah, ok, I'm sorry' and went back to work." There was also no sign of sustaining the injury as he didn't favor his right hand and landed his famous left jab throughout the rest of the fight. The big question for Volkanovski now that he's proven he has no equal at featherweight, how does he go from here? He is known to want to headline a UFC card in Australia and the ideal path for him would be to tackle his ambition of holding belts in two weight classes at the same time. In April, the NSW South Coast-based fighter confirmed he wants to move up to lightweight and become only the fifth doubles champion in UFC history. Charles Oliveira currently holds that title and the Australian wants to make it without having to work his way up through the division - something he can argue he's earned by proving himself to be one of the octagon's most dominant champions has stamped. Meanwhile, Volkanovski's father Tode told the publication he almost got into a fight at T Mobile Arena in Vegas before his son entered the octagon. They wanted to fight me."

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Nate Diaz beats the interviewer, Jon Jones picks Alex Pereira over Israel Adesanya

UFC Middleweight Champion Adesanya also defended his performance against Jared Cannonier (Author: Gardener)

AdesanyaYou are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience. LAS VEGAS — Nate Diaz is still without a contracted UFC fight, but he did manage to cause some damage over the weekend in Sin City. Diaz was briefly interviewed backstage at the T-Mobile Arena on Saturday night during UFC 276. The interviewer, Shawny Mack of internet collective Full Send, reached out to Diaz for a brief interview. Mack made a comment that suggested Diaz was here to see Sean O'Malley compete on the card, but then Diaz immediately questioned something Mack had previously tweeted. "Stockton's best, Nate Diaz. He's coming to see 'Suga' Sean, right?" Mack said, "Nah, you better check out your tweets about my guy fighting recently," Diaz replied. Diaz suddenly doubled down on his trademark "Stockton slaps." The source of Diaz's frustration, according to Jason Hartley, is reportedly derogatory comments Mack made about Diaz's training partner, Nick Maximov. Diaz has repeatedly called for the last fight on his UFC contract to end. He accused UFC President Dana White and Co. of putting him on hold. The longtime enemies have never met in mixed martial arts. Pereira boasts two wins against Adesanya in the kickboxing world and is the only man to ever defeat The Last Stylebender. Jon Jones - the former UFC light heavyweight champion and one of Adesanya's critics - expects Pereira to wipe the floor with Adesanya. How are you going to threaten a guy like Alex with shiny fingernails and a Frozen reference? I'm over here scratching my head," Jones tweeted on Saturday. "Bro I just went back and saw Alex P fight!! Really hard to believe he wasn't ranked before this fight," he wrote in a since-deleted tweet. Adesanya featured Jared Cannonier at UFC 276 in a fight that was anything but action-packed. Adesanya, in a post-fight scrum reporter, admitted he had a "night off" but defended his performance. "It was in the fight, maybe when I couldn't find my power shots, my kicks..."-- -- they," said Adesanya. "---- they," said Adesanya. "They've been here since 3 p.m., they're all drunk, they don't know what real fighting is. I said that, the big ones, they everybody gets to this point... GSP, people would boo him, and I said, 'What the ---- are you guys watching? You get to this point where you're so awesome, people just want to drop you They just want to see you fall, Mets ace Jacob deGrom starts rehab in the minor league and knocks out five of six batters

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Nate Diaz beats the interviewer, Jon Jones picks Alex Pereira over Israel Adesanya

UFC Middleweight Champion Adesanya also defended his performance against Jared Cannonier (Author: Gardener)

AdesanyaLAS VEGAS — Nate Diaz is still without a contracted UFC fight, but he did manage to cause some damage over the weekend in Sin City. Diaz was briefly interviewed backstage at the T-Mobile Arena on Saturday night during UFC 276. The interviewer, Shawny Mack of internet collective Full Send, reached out to Diaz for a brief interview. Mack made a comment that suggested Diaz was here to see Sean O'Malley compete on the card, but then Diaz immediately questioned something Mack had previously tweeted. "Stockton's best, Nate Diaz. He's coming to see 'Suga' Sean, right?" said Mack. "Nah, you better check out your tweets about my buddy fighting recently," Diaz replied. Diaz suddenly doubled down on his trademark "Stockton slaps." The source of Diaz's frustration is allegedly derogatory remarks Mack made about Diaz's training partner, Nick Maximov, according to Jason Hartley. Diaz (20-13) has not competed since losing a unanimous decision to UFC welterweight title challenger Leon Edwards last year. Diaz has repeatedly called for the last fight on his UFC contract to end. He accused UFC President Dana White and Co. of putting him on hold. * The aftermath of UFC 276 has set in motion a heated rematch between UFC Middleweight Champion Israel Adesanya and Alex Pereira. Pereira boasts two wins against Adesanya in the kickboxing world and is the only man to ever defeat The Last Stylebender. Jon Jones - the former UFC light heavyweight champion and one of Adesanya's critics - expects Pereira to wipe the floor with Adesanya. How are you going to threaten a guy like Alex with shiny fingernails and a Frozen reference? I'm over here scratching my head," Jones tweeted on Saturday. "Bro I just went back and saw Alex P fight!! Really hard to believe he was unranked before this fight," he wrote in a since-deleted tweet. * Adesanya featured Jared Cannonier at UFC 276 in a fight that was anything but action-packed. Adesanya, in a post-fight scrum admitted to reporters he had a "night off" but defended his performance. "It was in the fight, maybe when I couldn't find my power shots, my kicks..."----her," Adesanya said. "---- her," Adesanya said. "They've been here since 3 p.m., they're all drunk, they don't know what real fighting is. I said that, the big ones, they all get to that point... GSP, people would boo him, and I said, 'What the ---- are you guys watching? You get to that point where you're so awesome, people just want to see you fall. They just want to see you fall no matter what.

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Alexander Volkanovski joins exclusive club with 12-0 UFC start

Check out the facts and figures from UFC 276, where Alexander Volkanovski continued his epic run with a 22nd straight win. (Author: Gardener)

Alexander VolkanovskiIn the main event, Israel Adesanya (23-1 MMA, 12-1 UFC) beat Jared Cannonier (15-6 MMA, 8-6 UFC) for a unanimous decision to defend the middleweight title. This win came shortly after Alexander Volkanovski (25-1 MMA, 12-0 UFC) defended the featherweight title against Max Holloway (23-7 MMA, 19-7 UFC) with another unanimous decision in their trilogy bout. Adesanya's five consecutive UFC title defenses rank Kamaru Usman second-highest among current champions behind women's flyweight champion Valentina Shevchenko (seven). Adesanya's seven wins in UFC middleweight title fights are the second-highest in history behind Anderson Silva (11). Adesanya's 12-fight UFC middleweight winning streak is the longest active streak in the division. Cannonier fell to 5-2 since being relegated to the UFC middleweight division in November 2018. Cannonier has suffered three of his five UFC losses by decision. Volkanovski's 22-fight winning streak in competitive MMA is the longest among active UFC fighters. Volkanovski's 10-fight UFC featherweight winning streak is the longest active streak in the division. Volkanovski is one of four fighters in UFC history starting 12-0 in promotion. Volkanovski has won eight of his 12 UFC wins by decision. Holloway has suffered six of his seven career losses by decision. Holloway has landed 100 or more significant strikes in 14 different UFC fights, the most in company history. Holloway has landed 2,975 significant strikes in UFC competition, the most in company history. Holloway has landed a total of 3,217 strikes in UFC competition, the most in company history. Holloway is the only fighter in UFC history to complete 26 octagon appearances without suffering a knockdown. Holloway has 2,010 significant hits in UFC competitions, the most in company history Pereira (6-1 MMA, 3-0 UFC) has five of his six career wins by stoppages. Pereira has achieved all five of his career stoppage wins by KO. [autotag]Sean Strickland[/autotag] (25-4 MMA, 12-4 UFC) has fallen to 4-1 since returning to the UFC middleweight division in October 2020. Strickland has suffered both career breaks by KO. Barberena (18-8 MMA, 9-6 UFC) has improved to 8-5 since he was promoted to the UFC welterweight division in January 2016. Barberena has come from stoppages in five of his nine UFC wins. Lawler (29-16 MMA, 14-10 UFC) has fallen to 10-7 since returning to the UFC for a second stint in February 2013. [autotag]Jalin Turner[/autotag] (13-5 MMA, 6- 2 UFC) UFC five-fight winning streak at lightweight is the fourth-longest active streak in the division behind Charles Oliveira (11), Islam Makhachev (nine) and Beneil Dariush (seven). Turner has had all 13 of his career wins by stoppage. [autotag]Brad Riddell[/autotag] (10-3 MMA, 4-2 UFC) has suffered all three of his career losses through stoppages. [autotag]Jim Miller[/autotag] (35-16 MMA, 24-15 UFC) has 24 victories in UFC competitions, the most in the company's history. [autotag]Donald Cerrone[/autotag] (36-17 MMA, 23-14 UFC) retired from MMA after his loss. Cerrone's winless skid in seven fights is the longest of his career. Cerrone suffered his first submission loss since April 24, 2010 - a span of 4,452 days and 40 fights. [autotag]Ian Garry[/autotag] (10-0 MMA, 3-0 UFC) has won two of his three UFC wins by decision. [autotag]Gabe Green[/autotag] (11-4 MMA, 2-2 UFC) suffered his two UFC losses by decision. [autotag]Dricus Du Plessis[/autotag]' (17-2 MMA, 3-0 UFC) earned the first decision victory of his career. [autotag]Brad Tavares[/autotag] (19-7 MMA, 14-7 UFC) has suffered four of his seven career losses by decision. [autotag]Andre Muniz[/autotag]'s (23-4 MMA, 5-0 UFC) UFC winning streak in five middleweight bouts is the second-longest active streak in the division behind Adesanya (12). [autotag]Uriah Hall[/autotag] (17-11 MMA, 10-9 UFC) has suffered six of his nine UFC losses by decision. [autotag]Maycee Barber[/autotag] (11-2 MMA, 6-2 UFC) has improved to 5-2 since rising to the UFC women's flyweight division in March 2019. [autotag]Jessica Eye[/autotag] (15-11 MMA, 5-10 UFC) retired from MMA competition after her loss. Eye has fallen to 4-5 since being relegated to the UFC women's flyweight division in January 2018. Eye has suffered nine of her 10 UFC losses by decision. Stoliarenko (10-6-2 MMA, 1-4 UFC) claimed her first win since March 2020 after losing four bouts. Stoliarenko has all nine wins of her career break by assist. Stoliarenko's 42-second win was the second-fastest submission in UFC women's bantamweight history after Ronda Rousey's 14-second stoppage against Cat Zingano at UFC 184 in February 2015. [autotag]Jessica-Rose Clark[/autotag] (10 -8 MMA, 4-4 UFC) dropped to 2-3 since she was promoted to the UFC women's bantamweight division in November 2019. Clark fell to 6-7 (with one no contest) in her last 14 bouts. Clark has suffered both of her career-break losses by submission.

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Adesanya's UFC title reign is still missing something special

Israel Adesanya has the otherworldly fighting skills and personal charisma necessary to become the next mixed martial arts crossover superstar. What the UFC middleweight champion doesn't have are the stellar performances that would make him famous in the wider sporting world, and it's time to ask himself if he can provide them. Adesanya's tepid title defense against Jared Cannonier at UFC 276 on Saturday night was another missed opportunity for what is perhaps the UFC's most formidable athlete overall to reach the next level of glory. (Author: Gardener)

UFCLAS VEGAS (AP) -- Israel Adesanya has the otherworldly fighting skills and personal charisma necessary to become the next mixed martial arts crossover superstar. What the UFC middleweight champion doesn't have are the stellar performances that would make him famous in the wider sporting world, and it's time to ask himself if he can provide them. Adesanya's tepid title defense against Jared Cannonier at UFC 276 on Saturday night was another missed opportunity for what is perhaps the UFC's most formidable athlete overall to reach the next level of glory. In fact, Adesanya's last three middleweight title defenses since his failed run for the light heavyweight belt have been decider victories in what MMA pundits call technical, tactical feats. "They don't know what real fighting or real finesse is," Adesanya later said when asked about the fans who booed, whistled and left early during his last two rounds in Las Vegas. "The big ones all get to this point," Adesanya added. "Anderson Silva, GSP (Georges St. Pierre), I saw her and said, 'That was a fantastic fight,' and people would boo her. You get to that point where you're so awesome, people just want to see you fall.” But as a media-savvy fighter whose love of anime inspired his nickname, The Last Stylebender, Adesanya knows the importance of iconic moments. With his gravity-defying athleticism, he's one of the few MMA fighters who can create it through talent alone. He hasn't really done it since beating Robert Whittaker to capture the undisputed UFC title at 185 pounds in 2019. Adesanya has pulled off a stoppage win in his five title defenses without doing anything that would have put him in front of everyone on a social network for days. Before facing Cannonier, Adesanya promised to do something spectacular - something worthy of the high ticket prices in Vegas or the whopping $74.99 (without the required ESPN+ subscription) for pay-per-view shows in the US. He didn't, and he didn't take any chances to give himself a better chance - and then the New Zealander called fans 'stupid', 'drunks' and 'drongos' because they expected him to do what he did said. "But on my worst day, I can kill the best man," Adesanya said. He's a brilliant counterattack, and when an opponent like Cannonier is timid and economical with his shots, Adesanya can't do what he does best. But the disconnect between Adesanya's personal magnetism and his Las Vegas cage strategy was jarring. He fought off Cannonier with a French tip manicure and glittery polish on his toenails. "I like to put on a show," Adesanya said of the pageantry. Instead, he clinched a comfortable win by tearing apart Cannonier in another long-range point-fight performance. This style can win belts, but it rarely wins legions of fans outside of hardcore fight circles. Unless he develops a cult of personality along the lines of Mayweather's anti-hero personality, he will not propel him to the highest level of fame and fortune that only the greatest fighters ever achieve. It's no secret that the UFC is in an ongoing superstar drought behind Conor McGregor, still easily the most bankable star in MMA despite winning exactly one fight since former President Barack Obama was in office. A new generation of champions is at the forefront of the sport, but no one in this cohort comes close to the celebrity of McGregor or Ronda Rousey. Jon Jones is closest, but the self-sabotaging champion hasn't fought in 2 1/2 years and has nothing on deck as he moves up to heavyweight, a division in turmoil for absent champion Francis Ngannou. Welterweight Champion Kamaru Usman and Featherweight Champion Alexander Volkanovski make up most pound-for-pound lists, but these popular stars don't really seek notoriety outside of the cage, and it hasn't been foisted on them. Adesanya wants it all and he has one of the biggest personalities in the sport. Rising quickly and impressively to the middleweight throne, he has the charmingly combative demeanor of a fighter that should be known in households around the world. "It's an acquired taste to thrive under that spotlight," Adesanya said. Adesanya should have another prime opportunity to become omnipresent in his next fight against Alex Pereira, the Brazilian kickboxing sensation who defeated Sean Strickland at UFC 276. "It didn't excite me, and it didn't excite the crowd," Pereira said of Adesanya's win. Definitely I will make him fight to give the crowd a better show. Pereira is an MMA newbie, but he already KO'd Adesanya during her kickboxing career. Adesanya faces a career-defining crossover moment. "I like the story," Adesanya said. My life is an anime.

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Max Holloway's eyebrow split open in a comprehensive loss to Alexander Volkanovski

Alexander Volkanovski proved to be one of the top pound-for-pound UFC fighters at UFC 276 with a comprehensive shutout against Max Holloway in his trilo (Author: Gardener)

Alexander VolkanovskiAlexander Volkaovski proved to be one of the best pound-for-pound UFC fighters at UFC 276 with a comprehensive shutout against Max Holloway in their trilogy bout. Alexander the Great scored a unanimous 50-45 decision from all three judges, meaning he didn't drop a round. Despite both men having a feel-out process in the opening round, the Australian slammed his jabs and snapped some hooks that came with electric pace. Holloway struggled to match that pace and certainly the timing. In the second round, Volkanovski landed a massive pocketed right hand that split Holloway's eyebrow. Volkanovski continued to win exchanges with Holloway, despite the Hawaiian's best efforts. It wasn't that Holloway was missing. Max could have gotten the fourth round with some great work with his kicks. Still, Volkonovski finished the round strong with his excellent timing of the jab. As one of the best forwards in the entire UFC, we've never seen him take as much damage as he did at UFC 276. Volkanovski let Holloway miss over 60 percent of his shots, and it reflects how his defense provided the basis for his impressive performance was . After the fight, Volkanovski said, "I haven't been respected for too long." Before the decision was announced, Holloway and Volkanovski hugged and showed a lot of respect. In his post-fight speech, Volkanovski said he would like to move up to lightweight and challenge champion Charles Oliviera to become double champion.

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Why Conor McGregor might hold the key to solving the great Volkanovski mystery

Why Conor McGregor might hold the key to solving the great Volkanovski mystery (Author: Gardener)

Conor McGregorSaturday night was all about legacy for Alexander Volkanovski, an opportunity to cement his place alongside the legendary Jose Aldo as one of the finest featherweights the UFC has seen. The Australian champions did just that, outclassing Max Holloway to leave absolutely no doubt as to his place at the top of the division. "This will be the day he really etches himself in the record books," said Daniel Cormier, recently inducted into the UFC Hall of Fame. What else can Volkanovski achieve after so conveniently dismantling the man who should pose the greatest threat to his featherweight stranglehold? Well, Volkanovski had already expressed his desire to move up to lightweight and fight for double champion status, and after Saturday's fight he doubled it. "Max Holloway is an absolute beast," Volkanovski said. “I just proved to you that I want to be in that octagon as much as possible. i want to be busy I want to move up and be a double champion and I'll be dealing with two divisions. "Charles [Oliveira], whoever gets that belt, no disrespect, I'd love to step up and get that double champion status." But does Volkanovski deserve an immediate shot at the lightweight title regardless of whether Oliveira gets the belt or not? STILL CHAMP: Adesanya's special praise for 'excellent' rival after FIFTH title defense The Australian certainly thinks so, telling reporters at Saturday night's post-fight press conference that his masterclass against Holloway was proof enough. "I don't have to fight anyone. I'm a dominant champion who takes out guys like Max Holloway three times. Who really looked up against someone like Max Holloway like that? To think I didn't deserve to just move up [and fight for the title] would be pretty silly.” That came with a disclaimer from Volkanovski, who admitted that the hand injury he sustained in the second round suffered against Holloway could prevent him from returning to the octagon anytime soon. If Volkanovski's injury isn't as serious as first thought, what might his path to a shot at the easy crown look like? FULL UFC 276 REVIEW: Izzy and Volk too good as Trash Talker KO'ed The former UFC lightweight champion is guaranteed another shot at the belt after his recent submission win over Justin Gaethje. In case you missed it back then, ahead of his fight with Gaethje at UFC 274, the Brazilian was stripped of his title after failing to gain weight. But all indications are that Oliveira wants to fight Conor McGregor, who is still recovering from the broken leg he sustained against Dustin Poirier last year. "I think I deserve to vote, and I vote for Conor because of everything I've done to make some money for my family and for everything," Oliveira said last week. "If I have to choose, I'll choose Conor. The UFC hasn't told me anything yet. I want to fight until the end of the year but if it really is the end of the year I would prefer to fight in Brazil in January when this event takes place. What makes it interesting is that if Oliveira wants McGregor so badly, he might be willing to give up an immediate title fight to do so. After all, it's hard to imagine Dana White and the UFC agreeing to catapult McGregor straight into a title shot in his first fight after a long injury layoff. That in turn could see Volkanovski fighting for the title against Islam Makhachev, who is on a 10-fight win streak with recent wins over Thiago Moises, Dan Hooker and Bobby Green. Michael Chandler and Poirier could also stake their claims for a title shot, although Oliveira has already taken care of both to build an 11-fight winning streak of his own. So it might make more sense to give two completely new guys a chance to fight for the crown, although Oliveira has hinted he would fight Volkanovski for the title first before turning his attention to McGregor. "The champion has a name, it's Charles Oliveira," Oliveira told Fox Sports Australia on Saturday night. "If he wants to go up, I'm here. He has to think about it because it's a different challenge for him. It's a different division but I'm here, I'm the champion.” Of course, no one really knows when McGregor will return to the octagon, casting further doubt as to what Volkanovski's next move might be. At the moment, however, there is still every chance that the UFC will not give Volkanovski an immediate shot at the lightweight title. As dominant as he may have been against Holloway, the lightweight division is full of worthy title contenders, led by Makhachev. Volkanovski may be on a winning streak himself, but Makhachev has made it in this division and waited long enough for his chance, so he'll likely get the first shot at Oliveira should he not fight McGregor. As for what that means for Volkanovski, the Australian would then face the winner of the Brian Ortega-Yair Rodriguez bout in another featherweight title defense in two weeks' time. Josh Emmett has also been vocal in saying he deserves the chance to make it to the champion, but at that point the winner of Ortega against former UFC champion Henry Cejudo hugged Volkanovski after Saturday's fight and had an interesting challenge for him. "It's all competition, man," Cejudo said. "If an Olympic gold medal to the UFC belt isn't enough, man. And I always wanted to challenge you.” Volkanovski replied, “Let's see what happens,” prompting Cejudo to reply, “I hope we can make a difference.” Whether Volkanovski has the time to wait for Cejudo to deciding whether or not he would rise to 145 pounds remains to be seen. If Volkanovski were given an immediate shot at the lightweight title, his trainer Eugene Bareman told Submission Radio in June that Oliveira was "definitely the more difficult duel". "I mean, Islam has a good stand-up, but that just depends on who you're looking for... I just think Oliveira would be a more well-rounded skill for Volk to handle. Easier said than done, because just like Khabib in many ways, Islam excels. Volkanovski said Saturday night that he would look to defend the belts in both divisions at once should he win the vacant lightweight championship at the track. The Aussie also plans to remain around the same weight without too many adjustments, a decision coach Bareman said Volkanovski will be more than able to implement. "Every single person, no matter who you are, what your experience is, it grabs you and you feel something different," Bareman said. "It's a different feeling than anything I've ever felt from someone of that stature. And I think the light guys still feel that. Look, I've got middleweights and light heavyweights feeling that."

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Adesanya's UFC title reign is still missing something special

Israel Adesanya has the otherworldly fighting skills and personal charisma necessary to become the next mixed martial arts crossover superstar. What the UFC middleweight champion doesn't have are the stellar performances that would make him famous in the wider sporting world, and it's time to ask himself if he can provide them. Adesanya's tepid title defense against Jared Cannonier at UFC 276 on Saturday night was another missed opportunity for what is perhaps the UFC's most formidable athlete overall to reach the next level of glory. (Author: Gardener)

UFCLAS VEGAS (AP) -- Israel Adesanya has the otherworldly fighting skills and personal charisma necessary to become the next mixed martial arts crossover superstar. What the UFC middleweight champion doesn't have are the stellar performances that would make him famous in the wider sporting world, and it's time to ask himself if he can provide them. Adesanya's tepid title defense against Jared Cannonier at UFC 276 on Saturday night was another missed opportunity for what is perhaps the UFC's most formidable athlete overall to reach the next level of glory. In fact, Adesanya's last three middleweight title defenses since his failed run for the light heavyweight belt have been decider victories in what MMA pundits call technical, tactical feats. "They don't know what real fighting or real finesse is," Adesanya later said when asked about the fans who booed, whistled and left early during his last two rounds in Las Vegas. "The big ones all get to this point," Adesanya added. "Anderson Silva, GSP (Georges St. Pierre), I saw her and said, 'That was a fantastic fight,' and people would boo her. You get to that point where you're so awesome, people just want to see you fall.” But as a media-savvy fighter whose love of anime inspired his nickname, The Last Stylebender, Adesanya knows the importance of iconic moments. With his gravity-defying athleticism, he's one of the few MMA fighters who can create it through talent alone. He hasn't really done it since beating Robert Whittaker to capture the undisputed UFC title at 185 pounds in 2019. Adesanya has pulled off a stoppage win in his five title defenses without doing anything that would have put him in front of everyone on a social network for days. Before facing Cannonier, Adesanya promised to do something spectacular - something worthy of the high ticket prices in Vegas or the whopping $74.99 (without the required ESPN+ subscription) for pay-per-view shows in the US. He didn't, and he didn't take any chances to give himself a better chance - and then the New Zealander called fans 'stupid', 'drunks' and 'drongos' because they expected him to do what he did said. "But on my worst day, I can kill the best man," Adesanya said. He's a brilliant counterattack, and when an opponent like Cannonier is timid and economical with his shots, Adesanya can't do what he does best. But the disconnect between Adesanya's personal magnetism and his Las Vegas cage strategy was jarring. He fought off Cannonier with a French tip manicure and glittery polish on his toenails. "I like to put on a show," Adesanya said of the pageantry. Instead, he clinched a comfortable win by tearing apart Cannonier in another long-range point-fight performance. This style can win belts, but it rarely wins legions of fans outside of hardcore fight circles. Unless he develops a cult of personality along the lines of Mayweather's anti-hero personality, he will not propel him to the highest level of fame and fortune that only the greatest fighters ever achieve. It's no secret that the UFC is in an ongoing superstar drought behind Conor McGregor, still easily the most bankable star in MMA despite winning exactly one fight since former President Barack Obama was in office. A new generation of champions is at the forefront of the sport, but no one in this cohort comes close to the celebrity of McGregor or Ronda Rousey. Jon Jones is closest, but the self-sabotaging champion hasn't fought in 2 1/2 years and has nothing on deck as he moves up to heavyweight, a division in turmoil for absent champion Francis Ngannou. Welterweight Champion Kamaru Usman and Featherweight Champion Alexander Volkanovski make up most pound-for-pound lists, but these popular stars don't really seek notoriety outside of the cage, and it hasn't been foisted on them. Adesanya wants it all and he has one of the biggest personalities in the sport. Rising quickly and impressively to the middleweight throne, he has the charmingly combative demeanor of a fighter that should be known in households around the world. "It's an acquired taste to thrive under that spotlight," Adesanya said. Adesanya should have another prime opportunity to become omnipresent in his next fight against Alex Pereira, the Brazilian kickboxing sensation who defeated Sean Strickland at UFC 276. "It didn't excite me, and it didn't excite the crowd," Pereira said of Adesanya's win. Definitely I will make him fight to give the crowd a better show. Pereira is an MMA newbie, but he already KO'd Adesanya during her kickboxing career. Adesanya faces a career-defining crossover moment. "I like the story," Adesanya said. My life is an anime.

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Israel Adesanya used The Undertaker's WWE input for UFC 276

Israel Adesanya has always been open about what a huge WWE fan he is, but he showed it for his performance at UFC 276 on Saturday. The last stylebender is (Author: Gardener)

UFCIsrael Adesanya has always been open about what a huge WWE fan he is, but he showed it during his performance at UFC 276 on Saturday. The Last Stylebender is usually known for his lavish performances that incorporate his dancing roots, but this time he paid homage to one of his favorite WWE Superstars, The Undertaker. Adesanya used The Undertaker's theme music and he even made his way to the octagon with the Phenom's hat and an urn with Jared on it, apparently intended for his opponent in the night, Jared Cannonier. Coincidentally, WWE's Vince McMahon, Triple H, Stephanie McMahon, Nick Khan and Pat McAfee arrived just in time to see the main event. WWE had their money-in-the-bank pay-per-view running right down the street at the MGM Grand, and when that was over they made the short trip to the T-Mobile Center to see the main event. Adesanya defeated Cannonier by unanimous decision 49-46, 49-46, 50-45 but said after the event that he didn't know WWE's top brasses would be there to start. As previously mentioned, Adesanya has made no secret of his WWE fandom. Earlier this year, Adesanya told talkSPORT that one day he will definitely work with WWE. He said: "I looked up to these guys as a kid. We got bumps at the time [laughs]. Adesanya extended his record to 23-1 at UFC 276, with his only loss coming while fighting for doubles champion status at light heavyweight. Adesanya is undefeated at middleweight in the UFC. The Undertaker retired from professional wrestling last year with his very last match at WrestleMania 36 without fans. The Deadman was inducted into the Hall of Fame this year and is known as a huge MMA enthusiast.

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