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Thursday, August 11, 2022

UFC 277 Live Blog: Nunes, Peña Set for Headline Bout

Amanda Nunes and Julianna Peña headline UFC 277 in a matchup for the women’s bantamweight title.

Julianna Pena steps on the scale for the ceremonial weigh-in at American Airlines Center for UFC 277.

IMAGO / ZUMA Wire

Amanda Nunes looks to regain her place as the most dominant woman in mixed martial arts. Standing in her way is Julianna Peña, who defends the bantamweight title against Nunes in the main event of UFC 277.

Peña (11–4) produced a shocking victory against Nunes (21–5) last December, outstriking Nunes before making her tap out in the second round. It was a dominant performance, though unlikely to be repeated against a hungry, healthy Nunes. Even more than the title is at stake here. With a victory, Peña will attain an entirely new realm of greatness. But the far smarter bet is that Nunes wins for the thirteenth time in her past fourteen fights, regaining the title in the process.

Another title on the line is the interim flyweight championship, which will be claimed by either Brandon Moreno or Kai Kara-France. This is a rematch from 2019, a bout Moreno (19–6–2) won by unanimous decision. Kara-France (24–9) has never been better than he is at the current moment, yet it will take a herculean effort to defeat Moreno.

A second flyweight bout is also on the card, pitting Alexandre Pantoja against Alex Perez, a meeting of the No. 4 and No. 6 flyweights, respectively. Perez (24–6) is far less proven than Pantoja (24–5), who has exhibition wins on The Ultimate Fighter against both Moreno and Kara-France, and he defeated Moreno in 2018. The winner of this bout is well-positioned for a shot at the title after it is unified.

The 277 card features Derrick Lewis in his first fight since getting knocked out by Tai Tuivasa in February. Lewis (26–9, 1 NC) needs a win against Sergei Pavlovich to stay in the mix among heavyweight contenders, especially since he is angling for a fight against Stipe Miocic. For Pavlovich (15–1), a win tonight will mark the most significant victory of his career.

Magomed Ankalaev opens the main card against Anthony Smith. Despite being side-by-side in the rankings—Ankalaev is fourth in the light heavyweight rankings, with Smith currently at fifth—the odds for this fight are extremely far apart. Ankalaev (17–1) is heavily favored to win, despite Smith (36–16) having won three in a row, including two first-round, Performance of the Night submission victories.

This is a card with stars and depth, and it should be the highlight of the summer for UFC.

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