The UFC has been on a little bit of a tough stretch this month with back-to-back essential occasions ending anticlimactically because of accidents.
Followers and fighters are hoping for higher luck this Saturday at UFC 277 in Dallas. The pay-per-view card options two title fights – each rematches – plus a handful of fights that might see the winner transfer into title competition.
The principle occasion has girls’s bantamweight champion Julianna Pena and the girl she took the belt from, Amanda Nunes, go at it partly two of their 135-pound rivalry.
Pena shocked the MMA world by withstanding a first-round barrage from Nunes, who stays the UFC girls’s featherweight titleholder, earlier than submitting her within the second spherical within the greatest championship upset in girls’s MMA since Ronda Rousey was felled by Holly Holm.
Pena closed as excessive as +700 again at UFC 269 in December and rewarded her backers. The defending champ is as soon as once more a heavy underdog within the rematch.
An interim flyweight belt is on the road within the co-main occasion between 125-pounders Brandon Moreno and Kai Kara-France.
Right here’s a better look the UFC 277 essential card and a handful of preliminary bouts through which the underdog may shine, plus some picks and prop bets.
AMANDA NUNES vs. JULIANNA PENA
Pena +200 | Nunes -250 | Draw +8000
Pena by determination +500 | Nunes by determination +333
Pena by stoppage +450 | Nunes by stoppage -120
Nunes received the opening spherical within the first assembly on all judges’ scorecards earlier than the tide shortly turned within the second spherical. Nunes appeared overconfident early, and as her fuel tank waned started to combat sloppy. As soon as she was fatigued and Pena saved attacking at a excessive tempo, Nunes seemed unprepared.
If Nunes can’t put Pena away within the opening spherical don’t be shocked at a repeat consequence. Nunes solely has one stoppage win exterior of the primary spherical since 2011. In her previous 9 fights that made it out of the opening spherical, Nunes is simply 5-4 and light in a handful of these wins that ended up going the space.
Additionally, historical past just isn’t on Nunes’s facet. There have been 13 fast title rematches in UFC historical past; the champions who misplaced the title within the first match are simply 2-11 within the fast rematch. That’s to say the worth continues to be on Pena’s facet within the rematch despite the fact that the percentages have tightened.
Pena’s greatest weapon in her first assembly with Nunes, moreover her dedication, was her jab – particularly a dipping jab as Jack Slack explains right here – that disrupted Nunes’s rhythm and added to her frustration.
Approach for approach, Nunes has the sting on Pena in most areas however cardio and coronary heart have been legit components within the first combat. Do you bear in mind how shortly Nunes tapped as soon as Pena had her arm across the neck? Will “The Lioness” be her ordinary fierce self or as soon as once more appear to be a fatigued cub?
Odds point out likeliest consequence is: Nunes by stoppage -120
My decide (and most popular prop bets): Pena +200 (by stoppage +450), Pena in Spherical 3 (+2800), Pena in Spherical 4 (+3300), Pena in Spherical 5 (+3300)
In the event you facet with Nunes, her Spherical 1 (+300) and Spherical 2 (+500) ending props shall be widespread performs. There may be a substantial amount of worth on a Nunes submission win, in my view, and people props shouldn’t be missed both. Nunes by submission odds are: Spherical 1 +1800, Spherical 2 +2800, Spherical 3 +5000, Spherical 4 +8000, Spherical 5 +10000
BRANDON MORENO vs. KAI KARA-FRANCE
Moreno -210 | Kara-France +175 | Draw +8000
Moreno by determination +140 | Kara-France by determination +300
Moreno by stoppage +225 | Kara-France by stoppage +500
Kara-France closed as roughly a -150 favorite of their first assembly in December 2019 but Moreno had his palms raised that night time following a unanimous determination win. Moreno finally went on to win the flyweight title. He’s 1-1-1 in his rivalry with reigning 125-pound champion Deiveson Figueiredo, shedding the title in January when he dropped a call. Figueiredo is injured and unable to defend the title, which is why the UFC launched this interim belt.
The primary combat occurred on the toes and the rematch may too. Moreno ought to have a wrestling and grappling benefit and is the extra doubtless fighter to include takedown makes an attempt. Moreno hasn’t fought anybody moreover Figueiredo since 2020, nonetheless, and I just like the enhancements Kara-France has made on his present profitable streak that features a first-round KO of former bantamweight champion Cody Garbrandt.
Moreno lands 3.54 vital strikes per minute and has a 57 per cent vital placing defence in his fights in comparison with Kara-France’s 4.84 vital strikes landed and 65 per cent defence. I see these stats basically as a microcosm of how this shut combat performs out over 25 minutes.
Odds point out likeliest consequence is: Moreno by determination +140
My decide (and most popular prop guess): Kara-France +175 (by determination +300).
Derrick Lewis (+110) vs. Sergei Pavlovich (-138)
The Texas crowd shall be fired up for this heavyweight showdown between fan favorite Lewis and rising Russian contender Pavlovich. This one just isn’t anticipated to go the space – if it does, that prop would money at +400 – with over 1.5 rounds seeing +110 odds whereas the underneath is the -163 favorite.
Lewis is at all times stay for the KO and may have the house crowd assist however how a lot did his most up-to-date loss take out of him? He was knocked out by Tai Tuivasa lower than 5 months in the past. Lewis loses completely to champions or top-five contenders and dispels of anybody else. Pavlovich failed his first large take a look at when he misplaced to Alistair Overeem in 2018. This encounter with Lewis will decide whether or not he has improved sufficient to interrupt into the highest tier of huge fellas.
This line opened with Lewis because the favorite however has swung to Pavlovich’s facet throughout combat week. Pavlovich is youthful and sooner with a attain benefit. If he dangers consuming punches from Lewis he could go night time night time relatively shortly however I’m selecting to belief his hand velocity.
Likeliest consequence in keeping with odds: Pavlovich by stoppage -105
Decide (and most popular prop bets): Pavlovich -138 (by stoppage -105), Pavlovich in Spherical 2 (+500)
Alexandre Pantoja (-175) vs. Alex Perez (+150)
One other assembly of top-10 flyweights with No. 4 Pantoja dealing with No. 6 Perez, who returns to motion following a 20-month layoff. Pantoja has a win over Moreno, earned Combat of the Night time when he went the space with Figueiredo and has been the extra energetic fighter. This combat, like most three-round flyweight bouts, is anticipated to go to the scorecards, and in what I anticipate being a tightly contested matchup, I typically will facet with whoever holds the wrestling edge – on this case I imagine it’s Perez.
Likeliest consequence in keeping with odds: Pantoja by determination +187
Decide (and most popular prop guess): Perez +162 (by determination +333)
Anthony Smith (+400) vs. Magomed Ankalaev (-550)
The primary combat on the PPV essential card has Ankalaev in search of a press release win over a former light-heavyweight title challenger. Ankalaev, ranked No. 4 at 205 kilos, is a reliable title menace on an eight-fight profitable streak. He has knockout energy however has out-pointed his previous three opponents. Smith is a finisher, but to do this towards Ankalaev he’ll have to enterprise into harmful waters. Ankalaev has been content material to go the space recently and these odds counsel this combat is prone to play out equally to Smith’s lopsided loss to Aleksandar Rakic.
Likeliest consequence in keeping with odds: Ankalaev by determination +105
Decide (and most popular prop guess): Ankalaev by determination +105
PRELIMINARY CARD QUICK PICKS
This occasion is chock filled with stay canines, however what number of shall be barking Saturday night time? Beneath are 4 underdogs on the prelims I believe every has an honest probability at pulling off the upset.
Drew Dober (-188) at all times places on a present. He’s extra well-rounded and his resume is superior to Rafael Alves (+162) who isn’t a family identify. Dober has misplaced two of his previous three and was in hassle towards Terrance McKinney in his most up-to-date outing earlier than a powerful comeback TKO win. Dober has been submitted 4 instances in his UFC profession and Alves is harmful, particularly early, so I wouldn’t put it previous him to catch Dober with one thing.
Hamdy Abdelwahab (+140) is making his UFC debut on quick discover versus Don’Story Mayes (-170). His resume just isn’t spectacular, though his wrestling credentials are. I may see him utilizing brute drive to smother Mayes in a probably ugly combat the longer it goes. Hopefully for his sake he isn’t overwhelmed by the environment in his debut as a result of Mayes throws heavy leather-based and has a big attain benefit.
Texas native Alex Morono (+137) meets the explosive Matthew Semelsberger (-163) within the featured prelim and it’s a fan-friendly model matchup. Each welterweights land at a excessive charge and don’t thoughts standing and buying and selling. Semelsberger has an edge in energy however I’ll facet with Morono who’ll be combating in his dwelling state.
Ji Yeon Kim (+110) is on a three-fight skid, is smaller than Joselyne Edwards (-138) and I believe it’s leading to individuals overlooking her. I’m siding with Kim’s quantity in a combat prone to require all quarter-hour.
— Julianna Pena (+200) vs. Amanda Nunes (-250)
— Brandon Moreno (-210) vs. Kai Kara-France (+175)
— Derrick Lewis (+110) vs. Sergei Pavlovich (-138)
— Alexandre Pantoja (-188) vs. Alex Perez (+162)
— Anthony Smith (+400) vs. Magomed Ankalaev (-550)
— Alex Morono (+137) vs. Matthew Semelsberger (-163)
— Drew Dober (-188) vs. Rafael Alves (+162)
— Don’Story Mayes (-170) vs. Hamdy Abdelwahab (+140)
— Drakkar Klose (-210) vs. Rafa García (+175)
— Michael Morales (-600) vs. Adam Fugitt (+450)
— Joselyne Edwards (-138) vs. Ji Yeon Kim (+110)
— Nicolae Negumereanu (-125) vs. Ihor Potieria (+100)
— Orion Cosce (-188) vs. Mike “Blood Diamond” Mathetha (+162)
(Betting odds by way of Bet365 as of Friday morning and topic to vary)