On the evening of July 30 in Dallas, Texas at the American Airlines Center arena, UFC 277 will be the main event of the end of the month in the world of martial arts. The main event of the evening is the first girls title fight in a long time – a rematch between Julianna Pena and Amanda Nunes. The featherweight title fight will show whether Peña has won the title fairly, or whether Nunes can take the royal title after eight defenses at two weight classes since 2016.
We’ll cover not only the upcoming women’s title fight at UFC 277, but also other main card fights in the review. You can watch all UFC 277 fights in Dallas for free, including the prelims, at 1ufc.net! You don’t need to register to watch, just find the right link and watch the top fights of the best promotion in the world!
Julianna Pena vs Amanda Nunes
The first ever female bantamweight champion in the history of the promotion, 34-years-old Amanda Nunes, nicknamed “The Lioness”, is a true legend in women’s fighting. Only she had 8 defenses of the flyweight title (6 times) and featherweight title (2 times). If the bantamweight title still remains with Nunes, the Brazilian sensationally lost the lightest division title at the end of 2021, at UFC 269. Who did she lose to? Julianna Peña, nicknamed the “Venezuelan Lioness”, of course.
The loss to Peña was a real coup in the women’s division, the promotion was in for a mild shock, no one thought Nunes would manage to give up the lead after 5 years of dominance. The Brazilian great lost for the first time since 2015, her record now 21-5. The Lioness’ fights against Holly Holm, Ronda Rousey, Miesha Tate and Valentina Shevchenko will go into the women’s promotion hall of fame, Nunes’ bright and tough style has allowed her to dominate many fights.
But to be fair it should be noted that in the last 2-3 years Nunes has not had any top contenders, in the flyweight division apart from the fight with Holm in 2019, the Brazilian had no fights worth paying attention to after Shevchenko left for another division. Until the fight with Peña, of course. The holder of a black belt in jiu-jitsu and a brown belt in judo is determined to take revenge on Pena and regain her throne. It is not yet clear what form the former champion is in after suffering a COVID-19 in July 2021.
Everyone well remembers how the 32-year-old Venezuela’s Pena (11-4) was stunned in the first round by Nunes’ assertion. But in the second round, the martial arts world saw one of the most powerful comebacks in history as the contestant of The Ultimate Fighter surprised the champion with pressure and choked her out. Prior to the main fight of her life, Pena had been a mixed success in the UFC, losing to Shevchenko and Randami without a chance, defeating Dudieva, Zingano, Ai. In 2019, a pregnancy interrupted Pena’s fighting career for two years, but upon her return she managed to defeat Montaño and McMann – definitely not leaders in the promotion.
Experts believe the Lioness will no longer be as surprised by a surprise response from Pena as she was in the first fight. It’s unclear how the former champion’s condition was affected by COVID-19, but things will be different in the rematch. Pena clearly had a plan for her first title fight, and having outlasted her in the first round, she confidently executed it in the second. Despite the loss, Nunes could have finished the fight in the first round, but an underestimation of her opponent could have played out. In the rematch, the bookmakers again see Nunes as the clear favourite, as do the promotion experts.
In case of Peña’s second win, we can confidently say that there is a new queen in the flyweight division, and we should expect a Peña – Nunes trilogy in the near future. “The Lioness” will definitely try to prove that the first defeat in 7 years was more of a setback than a trend.
Brandon Moreno vs Kai Cara-France
We were supposed to be treated to another men’s flyweight title fight on Sunday morning, but an injury to champion Davison Figueiredo has disrupted all plans. So at UFC 277 there will be another rematch for the interim lightweight title between 28-year-old Mexican Brandon Moreno (19-6) and 29-year-old New Zealander Kai Kara-France (24-9).
Kai Kara-France earned a title fight after three consecutive wins in the promotion over Rogério Bontorin, Cody Garbrandt and Askar Askarov, two fights earning Performance of the Night. Cara-France is a formidable opponent for Moreno, this became clear after he defeated the then undefeated Askar Askarov, and earlier by technical knockout defeated former champion Cody Garbrandt. Cara-France is clearly set to defeat another former UFC champion in the Octagon at the American Airlines Center arena.
Experts have noted strong progress for the young fighter by UFC standards, who made his debut for the promotion in December 2018 with a win over Elias Garcia. Interestingly, one of Cara-France’s two UFC losses was to Moreno at UFC 245 in 2019 – the Mexican then won by unanimous decision, outpointing Cara-France in the standup, dominating for the entire 15 minutes.
While Cara-France is indeed progressing in terms of results, Moreno, on the other hand, is trying to maintain his position as the top lightweight contender, hoping to get another fight against reigning champion Figueiredo. The jiu-jitsu black belt holder from Mexico has extended his unbeaten streak in the UFC since making his debut in 2019 after defeating Cara France. And he was even able to win the title against Davison Figueiredo, right after a draw in their very first fight. In early 2022, champion Moreno was immediately stopped by the same Figueiredo in a tough five-round bout.
Of all the wins in the UFC, in addition to his fights against Cara-France and Figueiredo, Moreno has a win over Brandon Royval, who now stands 5th in the lightweight rankings.
The Cara-France/Moreno fight could turn out to be a spectacular one, as each fighter has something to prove in the octagon. The New Zealand representative is the underdog for the bookies, although he has more experience against the top fighters in the division. But it’s not just the boxing title that speaks in Moreno’s favour, he has been able to impose himself on champion Figueiredo in each of his 3 fights, so bookmakers believe the Mexican is the favorite. From the last 8 fights of these two men in the promotion 7 of them were the “Performance of the evening”, so expect on the 31st of July a spectacular fight.
Derrick Lewis vs Sergei Pavlovic
Former Fight Night Global heavyweight champion Sergei Pavlovic (15-1) has managed to establish himself in the UFC and is now ranked No. 11. Previously unbeaten in other promotions, the 30-year-old Russian lost his UFC debut fight in 2018 by knockout to Alistar Overim, but that was followed by three straight confident and early wins over Marcelo Golm, Maurice Green and compatriot Shamil Abdurakhimov. At UFC 277 in Dallas, Pavlovic will face one of the most powerful knockouts in the history of the promotion, Derrick Lewis. This fight could show just how ready Pavlovic is for some serious heavyweight competition.
Interestingly, 37-year-old American veteran Derrick Lewis (26-9) has twice fought Russian fighters – both times defeating Alexey Oleynik and Alexander Volkov by knockout. The powerful fighter made his UFC debut back in 2014, winning most of his victories by devastating knockouts. Lewis has defeated Nganna, Gonzaga, Nelson, Blades, but has lost major fights in his life. Lewis was granted his first title fight in 2018 at UFC 230, in a heavyweight title fight Lewis subbed the legendary Daniel Cormier. Two years later at UFC 265, Derrick again had a chance to become at least interim heavyweight champion – but he was again waiting to be defeated by current number one ranked Cyril Gan.
Lewis, who hails from Houston, doesn’t care much about titles and awards, much more about knockouts and big money for “The Performance of the Night”. Lewis is a true entertainer in the octagon, and he hopes to increase his knockout rate when he steps into the octagon against Pavlovic. But for the first time in many fights against him, he is no less powerful in terms of knockouts, with Pavlovic also finishing 12 of his 15 fights by knockouts.
The fight between Lewis and Pavlovic should be entertaining, both are motivated: the veteran will try once again to approach the title fight and prove his worth, and Pavlovic, after beating Abdurahimov, has a really top heavyweight contender. Bookmakers are giving equal odds on the fight, experts are expecting a powerful confrontation in the standings.
Alexandre Pantoja vs Alex Perez
In the bantamweight division, in addition to the Moreno vs. Cara-France fight, MMA fans will also face No. 4 and 6: 32-year-old Brazilian Alexandro Pantoje (24-5) vs. 30-year-old American Alex Perez (24-6).
Alexandro Pantoje has been in the promotion since 2017 and has been quite successful, defeating Brandon Moreno, Matt Schnell and Brandon Royvel in his last fight in August 2021. That said, the Brazilian has 3 losses to Ortiz, Figueiredo and Askarov, which is not impressive on Pantoje’s path to the top of the division. However, all three defeats were unanimous after 15 minutes of fighting.
Alex Perez made his UFC debut in 2017 with an anaconda choke against Carlos John, picking up his 6th straight victory. Perez has had few interesting fights in the main promotion, with the exception of a win over De la Rosa and a recent loss to division champion Figueiredo.
The fight between Pantoje and Perez should determine who is closer to a title fight and a shot at the top of the lightest division. Both previously missed their chances to be contenders, and will try to prove their strength in a head-to-head fight. Bookmakers have a slight preference for the more experienced Brazilian.
Magomed Ankalaev vs. Anthony Smith
In the featherweight division the main fight will be between two representatives of TOP-5 division: #4 ranked 30 year-old Russian Magomed Ankalaev (18-1) and #5 ranked 33 year-old American Anthony Smith (36-16).
Magomed is raring to go for a title fight, with eight straight wins in the promotion after his debut loss to Paul Craig in 2018. Along the way, the master of the sport of combat sambo has defeated two Kuzelabu, Krylov, Ozdemir and Santos, confirming his title fight claim. The former WFCA bantamweight champion intends to defeat Smith and definitely get a top-3 division opponent.
Anthony Smith has been in a title fight before, but at UFC 235, Jon Jones was stronger after a unanimous decision. The American has a very unstable performance in the octagon, with wins over Gustafsson, Ozdemir and Rua early in his career interspersed with losses to all the top names in the division: Teixeira, Rakic and Santos. The holder of the black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu before the fight with Ankalaev had three wins in a row in which the opponents were not top fighters.
The bout between the bantamweight division neighbors should determine who will challenge Prohazka, Teixeira or Blachowicz in the near future. The fight between welterweights Magomed Ankalaev and Anthony Smith is the first fight of the main card which will be really interesting for the MMA fans from Russia and especially from Dagestan, where Ankalaev is from.
The experts say that at the moment Ankalaev looks more preferable: not only his winning streak of 8 straight victories but also his uniform speaks in his favor. The Russian fought last time in March 2022, while Smith – in September 2021. Sixteen defeats in Smith’s career against the only one by Ankalaev is an interesting statistic, but far from guaranteeing a win for the Russian.
The main card fights at UFC 277 in Dallas will be exciting, there’s no doubt about that. For the first time in a long time the main event will be a girls fight, you can watch all the Main Card and Prelims fights for free at 1ufc.net