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Israel Adesanya's Next Fight Against Jared Cannonier Will Solidify His Legacy

Ryan Phillips
UFC 276 Press Conference
UFC 276 Press Conference / Carmen Mandato/GettyImages
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Israel Adesanya has cut a swath through the UFC's middleweight division ever since joining the promotion in 2018. He has yet to lose in the class, piling up a record of 11-0, including 6-0 in middleweight title fights. On Saturday at UFC 276, he'll face Jared Cannonier with the middleweight title on the line. With a win, he will have essentially have cleaned out the division, securing his legacy as one of the best middleweights in MMA history.

The 32-year-old Adesanya is currently 22-1, with his only loss coming via decision against Jan Blachowicz when he jumped up in weight to challenge for the light heavyweight title. Other than that bout from March of 2021, he's been nearly untouchable. He won the interim middleweight title in April of 2019 by dominating Kevin Gastelum, unified the title with a knockout win over Robert Whittaker in October of that year and has not looked back. Along the way he's topped Yoel Romero, Paulo Costa, Marvin Vettori and Whittaker again.

Cannonier (15-5) is currently No. 2 in the UFC's middleweight rankings. The 38-year-old will be in his first UFC title fight, but he does boast wins over Anderson Silva, Jack Hermansson, Gastelum and Derek Brunson. He has won five of his last six fights, with the only loss coming via decision against Whittaker in October of 2020. His brutal knockout of Brunson from February earned him a Performance of the Night bonus and a title shot.

Adesanya is a massive favorite over Cannonier and is expected to walk to yet another title defense. While there are no sure things in MMA, every fight for "The Last Stylebender" feels like a forgone conclusion.

A win over Cannonier and Adesanya would boast victories over four of the top five fighters in the division. Including two wins over Whittaker (No. 1), and Vettori (No. 3). The only current member of the top five left would be Sean Strickland (No. 4). He's the only fight left that makes sense for Adesanya. Strickland is on a six-fight winning streak and the 31-year-old has amassed a 25-3 record. He'll be fighting Alex Pereira this weekend. A win could set him up for a title shot.

Adesanya is already one of the greatest middleweights of all-time. A win over Cannonier could put him on par with Silva as the greatest ever. We'll see what happens, but his legacy will undoubtedly be altered either way at UFC 276.

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