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UFC 277 Preview

The UFC returns to Dallas for the big UFC 277 pay-per-view event. The card is headlined by a much anticipated women’s bantamweight title fight rematch between Julianna Pena and Amanda Nunes. The co-main event also features a title fight as Brandon Moreno battles Kai Kara-France in a rematch for the interim flyweight title. MMA Viking previews all of the action taking place this weekend.


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UFC 277 Prelim Card

Opening the card is a welterweight contest between Orion Cosce and Mike Mathetha. The more experienced Cosce should edge this one.

Nicolae Negumereanu meets Ihor Potieria in a light heavyweight encounter. Potieria is expected to come out on top as per the oddsmakers.

Joselyne Edwards meets Ji Yeon Kim in a women's bantamweight tilt.  Edwards steps in after injury forced Mariya Agapova off the card.  “Fire Fist” will be looking to snap a three-fight losing streak.

Michael Morales faces Adam Fugitt in a welterweight scrap. Morales, who comes out of Ecuador, is a heavy favorite and should extend his record to an impressive 14-0 as he faces the local that got called up to the UFC as another late replacement.



Drakkar Klose battles Rafa Garcia in a lightweight contest. Expect Klose to get the victory in this encounter, as he faces yet another late replacement –Diego Ferrera was forced out—on the card.

Heavyweights are in action as Don'Tale Mayes meets Hamdy Abdelwahab. Mayes is a slight favorite over the unbeaten Abdelwahab, and always good fun when two big men who rarely go the distance throw down.

Drew Dober faces Rafael Alves in a lightweight tilt. Expect a victory for Dober who is a solid favorite over the Dana White Contender Series fighter.

Alex Morono takes on Matthew Semelsberger in a welterweight contest in the featured prelim. Semelsberger is a slight favorite to come out on top over the vet, and he expects to get a finish.



UFC 277 Main Card

 

Magomed Ankalaev (17-1) v Anthony Smith (36-16)

Magomed Ankalaev takes on Anthony Smith in a light heavyweight encounter that could determine the next in line to challenge the champion. Ankalaev is coming off a unanimous decision win over Thiago Santos and has won his last eight overall. 

Smith, meanwhile, has won three in a row following his most recent submission victory over Ryan Spann. That said, Ankalaev will likely prove to be too much of a step up for Smith. Expect a win for the Dagestani native over the experienced American.

Alexandre Pantoja (24-5) v Alex Perez (24-6) 

A pivotal flyweight encounter takes place as Alexandre Pantoja faces former title challenger Alex Perez. Pantoja has won two straight including a submission victory over Brandon Royval. Overall, he has won six of his last eight and ranked #4 in the division. 

#6 ranked Perez, on the other hand, hasn't competed since his first-round submission defeat to Deiveson Figueiredo in their flyweight title fight back in November 2020. Rust withstanding, Pantoja is a slight favorite and should get the decision victory.



Derrick Lewis (26-9, 1NC) v Sergei Pavlovich (15-1)

Heavyweights collide on the main card as Derrick Lewis takes on Sergei Pavlovich. #5 ranked Lewis was knocked out by Tai Tuivasa in his last outing and will look to return to the win column promptly in his home state of Texas. 

#11 ranked Pavlovich has won his last three outings by knockout, including a TKO win over Shamil Abdurakhimov. Given how anything can happen in the heavyweight division, especially with the power of Lewis, this fight is fittingly a pick ‘em… and I’ll always put my money on “The Black Beast” in close fights.

Brandon Moreno (19-6-2) v Kai Kara-France (24-9, 1 NC)

Brandon Moreno battles Kai Kara-France in a rematch to not only crown a new interim flyweight champion, but determine the next challenger to Deiveson Figueiredo. Moreno recently lost his title to Figueiredo in their trilogy fight in what was an extremely close contested battle. Kara-France, meanwhile, is on a hot streak with three straight wins along with winning seven of his nine UFC outings.

The pair first met in 2019 that saw Moreno come out on top via unanimous decision. Both fighters have improved tremendously since then, but Moreno is undoubtedly the more improved fighter and is a solid favorite to come out on top and set up a fourth fight with Figueiredo.  However, the #1 contender Moreno must get up for this fight and look to his title rematch, or he can lose to the #2 ranked fighter out of New Zealalnd.



Julianna Pena (12-4) v Amanda Nunes (21-5)

The main event sees Julianna Pena defend her women’s bantamweight title for the first time in a rematch against Amanda Nunes. Pena won the 135-pound strap after shocking the world with a submission win over Nunes back in December. It snapped a 12-fight winning streak for Nunes who has since claimed she had an off night due to sickness and other personal issues.  It was one of the biggest upsets in the UFC.

Whether things will change in the rematch remain to be seen. However, oddsmakers certainly believe the first fight was a fluke as Nunes is a solid favorite to come out on top and regain her bantamweight strap. Odds aside, I always like to put a play on underdogs, and Pena has shown her ability to perform on the big stage.  I like a play on Pena to do it again!


About Ryan O’Leary 

Ryan O’Leary is a veteran mixed martial arts journalist and commentator. The Swedish-based writer is the founder and editor at MMAViking.com, which is the premier source for Nordic mixed martial arts news since 2008.

 

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