UFC 277 takes place this Saturday night at the American Airlines Center in Dallas.

In the main event, Julianna Pena will defend the UFC women’s bantamweight title against the woman she won it from the last time around in Amanda Nunes. Meanwhile, former flyweight champion Brandon Moreno fights Kai Kara-France for the interim UFC flyweight title in the co-main event.

UFC knockout king Derrick Lewis will face the dangerous Sergey Pavlovich in the third bout of the main card while flyweight contenders Alexandre Pantoja and Alex Perez meet in the event’s fourth bout. On the other hand, former light heavyweight title contender Anthony Smith looks to keep his winning run against the rising Magomed Ankalaev in the main card’s curtain raiser.

Let’s take a look at the bouts in the UFC 277 main card and make our predictions.

“Fighting" Julianna Pena vs Amanda Nunes

Julianna Pena is the current UFC women’s bantamweight champion. The 32-year-old from Spokane, Washington ended Amanda Nunes’s stranglehold of the division when she submitted the Brazilian in one of the biggest upsets in UFC history at UFC 269. Pena won The Ultimate Fighter 18 tournament, knocking out Jessica Rakoczy at the TUF 18 Finale.

Pena has a record of 11-4 with three knockouts and five submission wins. She stands 5-6 tall with a reach of 69 inches and is an orthodox fighter.

Amanda Nunes was the first UFC fighter, male or female, to win and defend titles in two different weight classes while concurrently holding both. The Lioness won 12 consecutive bouts, including 9 title fights, since losing to Cat Zingano in 2014. Nunes’ win streak ended in her last bout when she was upset by Pena. The Brazilian owns notable wins over former champions Ronda Rousey, Holly Holm, Cris Cyborg, Miesha Tate, Valentina Shevchenko, and Germain de Randamie.

The 34-year-old from Bahia, Brazil has a record of 21-5 with 13 knockouts and four submission wins. She is 5-8 tall with a reach of 69 inches and is an orthodox fighter.

What are the Moneyline Odds?






Odds from BetOnline as of 07/29/2022

Amanda Nunes is going to go down as one of the greatest female mixed martial artists of all time, if not the GOAT. However, most of Nunes’ opponents enter the Octagon already beaten even before they enter the cage. I don’t blame any of them. Nunes’ power is unmatched in women’s MMA and her striking is as good as it gets. However, Julianna Pena is different.

Pena entered their first fight knowing that she could beat Nunes if he is able to withstand her early pressure. True enough, Nunes started like a house on fire against Pena but Pena didn’t go away. Not only did she survive an early brawl with Nunes, but she was also able to turn the tide after one round and was able to put Nunes on the mat, where she is not comfortable.

The first fight produced one of the biggest upsets in UFC history. And in as much as I would like to think that fight was just a blip in Nunes’ career, I think Pena has Nunes’s number. There’s something in Julianna Pena that makes Nunes fight with rage not with her mind. And unless she can control herself on Saturday night, Nunes will be walking into a punch that beats her a second time. There’s a good chance that Nunes bounces back. But at +230 odds, I think Pena can do it again.

Prediction: Julianna Pena

“Fighting" Brandon Moreno vs Kai Kara-France

Brandon Moreno is a former UFC flyweight champion and the current no. 1 contender in the division. The 28-year-old from Tijuana, Mexico is the first Mexican to win a UFC title and is a former LFA flyweight champion. Moreno is on his second tour of duty with the UFC and is coming off a trilogy with the current champion Deivison Figueiredo. Moreno went 1-1-1 in those three bouts but lost the last one, enabling Figueiredo to reclaim the belt.

Moreno is 19-6 with 3 knockouts and 11 submission wins. He is 5-7 tall with a reach of 70 inches and fights out of the orthodox stance.

Kai Kara-France is the no. 2 ranked contender in the UFC flyweight division. The 29-year-old from New Zealand is a former KOZ flyweight champion in Australia who also fought for organizations like WLF WARS, Hex Fight Series, and PXC. He is 7-2 inside the Octagon with his losses coming against Brandon Royval and Moreno. Kara-France has won his last three bouts and is coming off a win over Askar Askarov.

Kara-France is 24-9 with 11 knockouts and three submission wins. He stands 5-4 tall with a reach of 69 inches and is an orthodox fighter.

What are the Moneyline Odds?






Odds from BetOnline as of 07/29/2022

Brandon Moreno and Kai Kara-France fought in 2019 when both were still trying to make their way up the flyweight ladder. Moreno won that bout on points and it was a clear win. However, a lot has changed since then. And both have improved significantly.

Kara-France has been on an impressive winning run and he is coming off consecutive wins over Rogerio Bontorin, Cody Garbrandt, and Askar Askarov. Meanwhile, Moreno has been in a trilogy with Deiveson Figueiredo and has a draw, win, and split decision loss against the current champion.

Both men want a shot at Figgy’s belt but between the two, I think that it’s Moreno who has the advantage. The Assassin Baby has the edge in grappling and he is good at dominating opponents on the mat and locking up submission holds. Kara-France’s last defeat to Royval was via submission. Give me the former champion to win.

Prediction: Brandon Moreno

“Fighting" Derrick Lewis vs Sergei Pavlovich

Derrick Lewis is the no. 5 ranked heavyweight in the UFC. The 37-year-old from New Orleans, Louisiana is a former Legacy FC heavyweight champion who also challenged for the UFC belt but lost to Daniel Cormier at UFC 230. The Black Beast is the UFC’s knockout king with his 13 knockouts the most in UFC history. Lewis is just 1-2 in his last three bouts, suffering KO losses to Cyril Gane and Tai Tuivasa.

He is 26-9 with 21 knockouts and one submission loss. Lewis is 6-3 tall with a reach of 79 inches and is an orthodox fighter.

Sergei Pavlovich is the no. 11 ranked heavyweight in the UFC. The 30-year-old from Oblast, Russia is a former Fight Nights Global heavyweight champion. He joined the UFC in 2018 losing to Alistair Overeem in his UFC debut. Since then, Pavlovich has won three in a row, all via knockout. In his last bout, he took out Shamil Abdurakhimov inside one round at UFC London last March.

Pavlovich is 15-1 with 12 knockouts. He stands 6-3 tall with a reach of 84 inches and fights out of the southpaw stance.

What are the Moneyline Odds?






Odds from BetOnline as of 07/29/2022

Derrick Lewis is one fighter who is hard to bet against. At whatever odds, he always has a chance to win a fight because he needs to land only one big shot to end the night. And he doesn’t have to land clean too as even just a glancing blow can be strong enough to put away an opponent.

Pavlovich is the younger fighter and he also is probably the more well-rounded one. He has showcased some punching power in the past and he has a solid wrestling background that we haven’t seen him use, or even need inside the Octagon.

Whether or not Lewis was speaking the truth when he said he did not know who his opponent is interesting. It’s either he was just joking or that he isn’t preparing well enough for this fight. The latter would be a mistake as Pavlovich is no fluke. In fact, the 30-year-old is still looking for his big break and he has the tools to earn it against the Black Beast.

Prediction: Sergei Pavlovich

“Fighting" Alexandre Pantoja vs Alex Perez

Alexandre Pantoja is the no. 4 ranked flyweight in the UFC. The 32-year-old from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil is a former Shooto Brazil and Resurrection Fighting Alliance flyweight champion. Pantoja joined the UFc in 2017 and won five out of his first six bouts. He’s gone 3-2 since then and is coming off a submission win over Brandon Royval.

Pantoja is 24-5 with 8 knockouts and 9 submission wins. He is 5-5 tall with a reach of 67 inches and is an orthodox fighter.

Alex Perez is the no. 6 flyweight in the UFC. The 30-year-old from Hanford, California is a former Tachi Palace Fights flyweight champion. Perez joined the Contender Series in 2017 and submitted Kevin Gray to earn his UFC contract. Perez is 6-2 inside the Octagon but lost to Devieson Figueiredo in his most recent bout at UFC 255 last November 2020.

Perez owns a record of 24-6 with five knockouts and seven submission victories. He is 5-6 tall with a reach of 65 inches and fights out of the orthodox stance.

What are the Moneyline Odds?






Odds from BetOnline as of 07/29/2022

At first glance, this looks to be an evenly matched contest. However, Pantoja is the betting favorite for a reason. Perez is an excellent fighter but without the knockout power, he isn’t going to be much of a threat for the tough-as-nails Pantoja.

Perez also relies on his grappling to set his offense. But we’ve seen him get foiled against top-level opposition like Figueiredo and Joseph Benavidez. Pantoja arguably belongs to the same class or is in the class next to them.

For as long as Pantoja keeps this fight on the feet, he’s going to dictate the fight, catch Perez with the bigger shots, and set him up for the takedowns. With Pantoja’s relentless attack, Perez could find issues with his gas tank, especially after a layoff. Pantoja’s explosiveness and speed are going to carry him to a win here.

Prediction: Alexandre Pantoja

“Fighting" Anthony Smith vs Magomed Ankalaev

Anthony Smith is the no. 5 ranked light heavyweight in the UFC. A competitor since 2008, Smith competed at Strikeforce and Bellator. He is a former Victory FC middleweight champion and CFFC middleweight champion. Smith challenged for the UFC 205-pound belt but lost to Jon Jones at UFC 235. He has won his last three fights, all via first-round submission.

Smith has a record of 36-16 with 20 knockouts and 14 submission wins. He is 6-3 tall with a reach of 75 inches and is an orthodox fighter.

Magomed Ankalaev is the no. 4 ranked light heavyweight in the UFC. The 30-year-old from Dagestan, Russia is a former light heavyweight champion from World Fighting Championship Akhmat. He joined the UFC in 2018 but lost his debut against Paul Craig. Since then, he has gone 8-0 and is coming off back-to-back wins over Volkan Oezdemir and Thiago Santos.

Ankalaev is 17-1 with nine knockouts. He is 6-4 tall with a reach of 76 inches and is an orthodox fighter.

What are the Moneyline Odds?






Odds from BetOnline as of 07/29/2022

Lionheart fights best when he is in the mood to finish his opponent. He is very athletic and can explode when he wants to land punishing blows. He also owns a strong submission game that enables him to win fights, even when he is on his back. Smith is also good at scrambles which enables him to take his opponent’s back.

Smith is a tough and grizzled veteran but Anakalev has the skill set to become a title contender or even champion. On his feet, Ankalaev’s straight left hand from the southpaw stance packs plenty of power and is more than enough to put Lionheart to sleep. On the mat, he has very good grappling skills that allow him to win scrambles and get to the top position where he has a mean ground and pound attack.

The safe bet here is backing Ankalaev who is perceived to be trending upwards as far as his career path is concerned. Smith is on a nice winning streak, but he may be past that time when he can still seriously contend for the belt. I think Ankalaev’s pace is going to cause Smith to gas. We’ve seen it happen to him before and it won’t be a surprise if Ankalaev tires him to victory.

Prediction: Magomed Ankalaev

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