Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) returns to the pay-per-view (PPV) market later TONIGHT (Sat., July 30, 2022) with UFC 277: “Pena vs. Nunes 2” going down from inside American Airlines Arena in Dallas, Texas. Headlining the event will be a women’s bantamweight title fight between Julianna Pena and Amanda Nunes. Co-headlining the card is an interim flyweight title fight between Brandon Moreno and Kai Kara-France.
Julianna Pena shocked the world at UFC 269 by submitting Amanda Nunes in the second round (see it here), snapping Nunes’ 12-fight, six-year unbeaten streak to win the 135-pound belt. Of course, since “Lioness” had been so dominant up to that point, a rematch was obviously in order. Before that, however, the two participated as coaches for a ho-hum Ultimate Fighter (TUF) season. For Pena, defeating Nunes a second time proves that the first win was no fluke and cements her as one of the best, while Nunes can regain “champ-champ” status with a victory.
As we saw in the first fight, Nunes is the better striker because she had her way with Pena in the beginning, dropping her a minute into the bout. But Pena showed massive grit and stood in the pocket with one of the best female strikers ever, absorbing big blows to deliver her own. After managing to take her down, Pena immediately went for the choke. A few seconds later, Nunes was tapping for dear life. And that’s when the criticism started because it seemed as if Nunes tapped very early into the hold. Of course, it’s easy for the armchair black belts to critique since we’re not in there, but from the outside looking in, it simply seemed as if Nunes was gassed.
Now, the former two-division champion has the chance to make things right for herself and her legacy. Nunes left her longtime camp at American Top Team (ATT) to start her own team, so it will be interesting to see if that has any bearing on her performance. For Pena, it’s going to come down to sticking to the basics because banking on the chance that she wins another toe-to-toe fist fight against Nunes is rather risky. Then again, without risk, there is no reward and Pena proved that she can take a licking and keep on ticking.
It’s a pay-per-view (PPV) card with not one, but two title fights, yet it doesn’t seem like a BIG event. The flyweights have gotten more love over the last few years thanks to Brandon Moreno and Deiveson Figuerido’s epic trilogy, but the interim title fight with Kai Kara-France just doesn’t seem to be getting a ton of buzz. Furthermore, the main card isn’t juicy enough for my liking to fork over $80.
Original Card vs Actual Card:
Luke Rockhold and Paulo Costa were originally set to compete on this card before it was shifted over to UFC 278, which is set to go down on Aug. 20, 2022 in Salt Lake City, Utah. Furthermore, a fight between Sean Strickland and Alex Pereira was moved from this event to UFC 276.
Mariya Agapova suffered a knee injury and was forced out of her fight against Ji Yeon Kim. She was ultimately replaced by Joselyne Edwards. Also, Carlos Diego Ferreira withdrew from his fight against Drakkar Klose as a result of an undisclosed injury so he was replaced by Rafa Garcia. Ramiz Brahimaj also withdrew from the event with an undisclosed injury. As a result, Adam Fugitt agreed to step in to take his place against Michael Morales in a preliminary bout.
Ihor Potieria will make his UFC debut against Nicolae Negumereanu in a light heavyweight affair. Potieria was impressive on the Contender Series to earn a spot on the UFC roster and is currently riding an impressive 15-fight win streak. As for Negumereanu, he has won three straight fights inside the Octagon after losing his debut fight back in 2019.
In heavyweight action, Don’Tale Mayes will welcome UFC newcomer Hamdy Abdelwahab to the Octagon. Abdelwahab is 5-0 and made his pro debut in 2021. He has finished all of his opponents via KO/TKO, four of those in the very first round…in under a minute. That means this fight has a high probability of ending early, and it can go either way because both men crack hard.
How The ‘Prelims’ Look:
Kicking off the event will be a welterweight fight between Orion Cosce and Mike Mathetha, who threw up a dud in his UFC debut against Jeremiah Wells after he was submitted in the very first round. Prior to that, “Blood Diamond” had gone 3-0 in his young mixed martial arts (MMA) career. Cosce didn’t do himself any favors and didn’t endear himself to fans or the promotion after he missed weight for the fight.
Rafa Garcia is a talented rising lightweight who has really turned things around by winning two straight fights over Natan Levy and Jesse Ronson. Garcia will attempt to earn his first three-fight win streak inside the Octagon when he takes on Drakkar Klose, a man who has really drifted away from the spotlight. Klose is 4-1 in his last five fights but there hasn’t been a ton of buzz surrounding him. Perhaps an impressive showing and win over Garcia can remedy the issue.
In the lightweight division, Drew Dober returns for his second fight of 2022 to battle Rafael Alves, who was last seen choking out Marc Diakiese in Nov. 2021. Dober, meanwhile, was last seen knocking out Terrance McKinney in the first round in March. Dober hasn’t been able to find the consistency inside the Octagon to catapult him into the Top 15, but a win over Alves could help his cause.
In the welterweight division, Alex Morono will battle Matthew Semelsberger in the featured fight on the ABC undercard. Morono finds himself on a great run at the moment, having won his last three fights, taking out Donald Cerrone, David Zawada, and Mickey Gall. Having won two in a row, Semeslberger is eyeing his first three-fight win streak inside the Octagon. Semeslberger has shown flashes of brilliance, and his lone loss under the UFC banner came against Khaos Williams.
Who Needs A Win Badly:
If we are going strictly off wins and losses, then Ji Yeon Kim needs a victory in the worse way. She has lost three straight fights inside the Octagon — all via unanimous decision — and hasn’t done much during her time with the promotion to warrant a pass should she suffer her fourth defeat in a row. She will be facing off against Joselyne Edwards, who is coming off a big win against Ramona Pasqual at UFC 275. That said, Edwards failed to make weight for the fight, so if she doesn’t have a good outing she could be on the chopping block, as well.
Interest Level: 7/10
With Deiveson Figueiredo unable to defend his title due to an injury, UFC officials decided it was best to make an interim title fight for the 125-pound strap. Naturally, Moreno got the call since he was set to fight Figueiredo for an unprecedented fourth straight time, So, in a way it’s great to see a new fight. Well, not exactly new because Moreno has already defeated Kai Kara-France, thought it was three years ago. And as Kara-France reminded everyone at the pre-fight presser, he isn’t the same fighter he was then. Since the loss Kara-France has gone 4-1 and has won his last three fights, which includes a devastating knockout win over Cody Garbrandt. That said, Moreno has improved since then, too, so this should be a great back-and-forth battle that should go all 25 minutes.
Derrick Lewis is in need of a win after he was knocked out silly by Tai Tuivasa in his previous outing. He is 1-2 in his last three fights, with both of the defeats coming by way of knockout. When he signed on to fight Sergei Pavlovich, “Black Beast’ claimed to not know who he was, but it would be in his best interest to brush up on him because the man is dangerous. Winner of three straight, Pavlovich is 15-1 and is eying a spot in the Top 10 with an impressive win over the hard-hitting big man. Another loss for Lewis could end his championship fight dreams once and for all.
It’s safe to assume UFC booked Alexandre Pantoja (No. 4) and Alex Perez (No. 6) on the main card in case anything happened to either Moreno or Kara-France and were unable to make the co-main event. All seems good on that front so now Pantoja and Perez will compete to see who moves one step closer to a shot at the title…after the Moreno vs Kara-France winner battles Figueiredo, of course.
And finally, Anthony Smith eyes another shot at the light heavyweight title with a win over Magomed Ankalaev. “Lionheart” has turned it around after back-to-back losses to Glover Teixeira and Aleksandar Rakic by winning three in a row, good enough to earn him the No. 5 spot in the division. As for Ankalaev, he is on a great run having won eight straight fights. His last two victories have come against former title contenders, Thiago Santos and Volkan Oezdemir. A win over Smith likely puts him in the Top 3 and gives him the edge to be the next man in line for a title shot.
UFC 277 PPV Main Event On ESPN+:
135 lbs.: UFC Bantamweight champion Julianna Pena vs. Amanda Nunes
UFC 277 PPV Co-Main Event On ESPN+:
125 lbs.: Brandon Moreno vs. Kai Kara France for Interim Flyweight championship
UFC 277 PPV Main Card On ESPN+ (10 p.m. ET):
265 lbs.: Derrick Lewis vs. Sergei Pavlovich
125 lbs.: Alexandre Pantoja vs. Alex Perez
205 lbs.: Magomed Ankalaev vs. Anthony Smith
170 lbs.: Alex Morono vs. Matthew Semelsberger
155 lbs.: Rafael Alves vs. Drew Dober
265 lbs.: Don’Tale Mayes vs. Hamdy Abdelwahab
155 lbs.: Rafa Garcia vs. Drakkar Klose
UFC 277 ‘Prelims’ Card On ESPN/ESPN+ (6 p.m. ET):
170 lbs.: Michael Morales vs. Adam Fugitt
125 lbs.: Ji Yeon Kim vs. Joselyne Edwards
205 lbs.: Nicolae Negumereanu vs. Ihor Potieria
170 lbs.: Orion Cosce vs. Mike Mathetha (a.k.a. Blood Diamond)
*Fight card, bout order and number of fights remain subject to change.*
Remember that MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC 277 fight card right here, starting with the early ESPN+ “Prelims” matches online, which are scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. ET, then the remaining undercard balance on ABC/ESPN+ at 8 p.m. ET, before the PPV main card start time at 10 p.m. ET on ESPN+ PPV.
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This story originally Appeared on MMAmania