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Amanda Nunes of Brazil reacts against Julianna Pena in their UFC bantamweight championship bout during the UFC 269 on December 11, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Cooper Neill/Zuffa LLC)
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Fight By Fight Preview | UFC 277: Peña vs Nunes 2

Get Ready For UFC 277: Peña vs Nunes 2 By Preview Every Action-Packed Matchup On The Card.

An absolutely jam-packed month of July comes to a close on Saturday night as the UFC returns to American Airlines Arena in Dallas, Texas for UFC 277.

Headlined by a championship rematch in the bantamweight division between Julianna Pena and Amanda Nunes, accompanied by an interim flyweight title fight between former champ Brandon Moreno and rising contender Kai Kara-France, and bolstered by critical and competitive matchups across a plethora of divisions, this weekend’s wrap to a remarkable month of action inside the Octagon should not disappoint.

Order UFC 277: Peña vs Nunes 2

Here’s a closer look at what’s on tap.

This is the UFC 277 Fight-By-Fight Preview.

Julianna Pena vs. Amanda Nunes

Julianna Pena reacts after defeating Amanda Nunes of Brazil by submission in their UFC bantamweight championship bout during the UFC 269 on December 11, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC)
Julianna Pena reacts after defeating Amanda Nunes of Brazil by submission in their UFC bantamweight championship bout during the UFC 269 on December 11, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC)

Seven months after their first meeting and following a stint coaching opposite one another on Season 30 of The Ultimate Fighter, Julianna Peña and Amanda Nunes will finally share the cage for a second time, with bantamweight supremacy hanging in the balance.

Back in December, Peña shocked everyone except herself and her team by making good on her promise to dethrone Nunes. She withstood a rough first round and came out pressuring in the second, putting the champion on her heels before eventually drawing out a tap with a little more than 90 seconds remaining in the frame.

Main Event Preview | UFC 277: Peña vs Nunes 2
Main Event Preview | UFC 277: Peña vs Nunes 2
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Nunes looked to be in control and having fun in the opening frame, putting Pena on the canvas and controlling her there, seemingly poised to cruise to her 13th consecutive victory. But when the challenger started to battle back, Nunes began to swing wildly and fade quickly, making some of the same mistakes from years earlier that seemingly had been worked out of her game.

Watch UFC 277 Countdown: Julianna Peña vs Amanda Nunes 2

Now they’re set to do it again with Pena brimming with confidence after dispatching Nunes the first time around, and “The Lioness” roaring about returning to her throne. This isn’t going to be a fight decided by skill developments or tactical adjustments, but rather one that will come down to want, desire, and drive.

Will the champion once again show that she simply wants it more or can the challenger reclaim the title she lost in December and draw level with her chief rival?

Brandon Moreno vs. Kai Kara-France

Kai Kara-France of New Zealand touches gloves with Brandon Moreno of Mexico in their flyweight bout during the UFC 245 event at T-Mobile Arena on December 14, 2019 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC)

Kai Kara-France of New Zealand touches gloves with Brandon Moreno of Mexico in their flyweight bout during the UFC 245 event at T-Mobile Arena on December 14, 2019 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC)


The co-main event is also a rematch, although this time around, Brandon Moreno and Kai Kara-France will face off in a battle to determine the interim UFC flyweight champion.

Moreno won the first encounter between these two back at UFC 245 by unanimous decision, and looks to reclaim a piece of the title he’s been battling with Deiveson Figueiredo over for his last three fights. Most expected a fourth consecutive meeting between the two with their series deadlocked at 1-1-1, but with the Brazilian champion sidelined, an interim title fight including the former champion made all kinds of sense.

FREE FIGHT: Brandon Moreno vs Kai Kara-France 1

Pitting Kara-France opposite Moreno was the obvious choice as well, as the New Zealander has gone 4-1 since their initial encounter and enters Saturday’s contest on a three-fight winning streak. After scoring first-round knockout wins over Rogerio Bontorin and Cody Garbrandt in 2021, “Don’t Blink” bounced Askar Askarov from the ranks of the unbeaten in March, showcasing sharp takedown defense and the kind of composure it’s going to take to topple Moreno this weekend.

This will be Moreno’s first fight since departing Entram Gym and shifting his training to Glory MMA & Fitness under the watchful eye of James Krause, so it will be interesting to see what kind of impact — if any — the move has on his approach and performance on Saturday night.

Whomever wins will be patiently waiting for Figueiredo’s return, while the defeated fighter will remain one of the division’s best. These two put on an entertaining scrap three years ago, and the sequel should be no different this weekend.

Derrick Lewis vs. Sergei Pavlovich

Heavyweight mainstay Derrick Lewis and emerging prospect Sergei Pavlovich square off in this main card battle designed to determine whether the ascending Russian is ready to enter the title conversation in the big boy ranks.

After winning his first three UFC fights in his home state of Texas, Lewis has dropped consecutive appearances at home in Houston, and aims to get back in the win column by moving 240 miles north to Dallas for this one. “The Black Beast” remains the preeminent power puncher in the heavyweight division — a certified “All He Needs is One” banger capable of turning back just about anyone on the right night.

How To Watch UFC 277: Peña vs Nunes 2

Shamil Adburakhimov in London to extend his winning streak to three and prompt this significant step up in competition. The sculpted and strong 30-year-old is 15-1 overall and has the opportunity to establish himself as one of the top younger threats in the division with a victory over Lewis this weekend.

This is a critical fight for both men, as Lewis looks to avoid a second straight loss and show that he’s still capable of turning back emerging talents, while Pavlovich aims to punch his ticket to contention by defeating the popular fan favorite.

Expect fireworks when these two get in there on Saturday night.

Alexandre Pantoja vs. Alex Perez

Alexandre Pantoja of Brazil punches Brandon Royval in a flyweight fight during the UFC Fight Night event at UFC APEX on August 21, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)

Alexandre Pantoja of Brazil punches Brandon Royval in a flyweight fight during the UFC Fight Night event at UFC APEX on August 21, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)


Before the interim title goes up for grabs, Alexandre Pantoja and Alex Perez will face off in a bout to help determine the hierarchy of contenders in the flyweight ranks.

Pantoja was in line to challenge for championship gold last year after defeating Brandon Royval, having politely asked Moreno for the opportunity. The two had fought on The Ultimate Fighter and again in the Octagon following the show, with the Brazilian getting the better of things both times, so another meeting with the Mexican champion made a great deal of sense.

Unfortunately, the Brazilian was sidelined by a knee injury and is only returning now, with designs on collecting another dominant win and re-affirming his standing as one of the top contenders in the 125-pound weight class.

Here's What's Happening In The Flyweight Division

 

It’s honestly a little surprising to see Perez in this position, as the former title challenger has not competed since that UFC 255 loss to Figueiredo and missed weight on back-to-back occasions last year for fights that ultimately didn’t make it to the Octagon. When he’s on-point and active, Perez is one of the best in the world, having amassed a 6-1 to earn his championship opportunity two years ago after graduating from Dana White’s Contender Series (DWCS) in 2017.

Questions abound heading into this one, and while a couple of them will be tackled on Friday when each man steps on the scale, the majority will be answered when they step into the Octagon on Saturday night.

Magomed Ankalaev vs. Anthony Smith

Magomed Ankalaev comemora a vitória no UFC Vegas 50

Magomed Ankalaev comemora a vitória no UFC Vegas 50. (Foto por Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)


Top-ranked light heavyweights Magomed Ankalaev and Anthony Smith square off in a battle that could very well determine which of these two lands a championship opportunity in the not too distant future.

Ankalaev arrives in Dallas on an eight-fight winning streak, having tactically and methodically out-hustled Nikita Krylov, Volkan Oezdemir, and Thiago Santos in his last three outings. The Russian is one of the more well-rounded talents in the division and has been working towards the top of the division for a couple years now, accepting the slow and steady approach because he’s confident his time will come and he’ll make the most of it when it does.

Smith fought for the light heavyweight title three-plus years ago at UFC 235, dropping a unanimous decision to Jon Jones. He rebounded with a win, but then lost two straight, seemingly falling out of the title mix, but consecutive first-round stoppage wins over Devin Clark, Jimmy Crute, and Ryan Spann have “Lionheart” right back in the title conversation.

MORE FREE FIGHTS: Figueiredo vs Moreno 2 | Nunes vs Holm | Kara-France vs Garbrandt

 

This is a critical fight for both men, which should mean we see them each at their best this weekend. Ankalaev needs a win over Smith to keep moving forward, while the American veteran can jump the line a little by stopping the streaking Russian’s impressive run of success.

Alex Morono vs. Matthew Semelsberger

Matthew Semelsberger prepares to face AJ Fletcher in their welterweight fight during the UFC Fight Night event at UFC APEX on March 12, 2022 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)
Matthew Semelsberger prepares to face AJ Fletcher in their welterweight fight during the UFC Fight Night event at UFC APEX on March 12, 2022 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)

Alex Morono and Matthew Semelsberger look to close out the prelims in style in this clash of ascending welterweights looking to take another step forward in the 170-pound weight class.

Morono has been a steady hand in the welterweight division for a number of years now, entering Saturday’s contest in his home state with seven wins in his last nine appearances and riding a three-fight winning streak. “The Great White” is solid everywhere and went 3-0 last year with wins over “Cowboy” Cerrone, David Zawada, and Mickey Gall.

Athlete Profiles: Morono | Semelsberger

Semelsberger has been one of the more active members of the welterweight division over the last two years, having amassed a 4-1 record ahead of his sixth start on Saturday. He’s earned tandem wins on either side of his unanimous decision loss to Khaos Williams, posting unanimous decision victories over Carlton Minus and AJ Fletcher along with rapid knockouts of Jason Witt and Martin Sano as he readies to face off with Morono.

This is a good test for Morono against a more athletic, powerful hopeful, while Semelsberger gets the opportunity to share the cage with a more seasoned competitor that can help gauge where he’s at in his development. They were tabbed to close out the prelims for a reason, so don’t be surprised if this one sends us to the pay-per-view buzzing.

Drew Dober vs. Rafael Alves

Drew Dober comemora a vitória no UFC Vegas 50

Drew Dober comemora a vitória no UFC Vegas 50. (Foto por Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)


Divisional stalwart Drew Dober squares off with ascending Brazilian Rafael Alves in this battle of lightweights looking to build off impressive first-round finishes last time out.

Dober broke into the Top 15 on the strength of wins over Nasrat Haqparast and Alexander Hernandez in 2020, but then was bounced from the rankings following consecutive losses to Islam Makhachev and Brad Riddell. He rebounded with a wild, come-from-behind first-round finish of Terrance McKinney in March, and will look to steady himself in the ever-turbulent lightweight waters with another strong effort here.

Coaches Discuss The Rematch Between Julianna Peña & Amanda Nunes

After missing weight for his promotional debut by a considerable margin, Alves moved up to lightweight and dropped his first official appearance inside the Octagon to streaking talent Damir Ismagulov. But last November, “The Turn” turned things around with a first-round submission win over Marc Diakiese, showcasing his explosive power and impressive finishing instincts.

Neither of these two is particularly fond of being in boring fights, which means we should get an absolute banger when they square off this weekend.

Don’Tale Mayes vs. Hamdy Abdelwahab

Don'Tale Mayes celebrates his victory on Dana White's Contender Series.

Don'Tale Mayes celebrates his victory on Dana White's Contender Series.


Don’Tale Mayes welcomes Hamdy Abdelwahab to the UFC heavyweight division on Saturday night at UFC 277.

Mayes finally graduated from DWCS on his third attempt, and then scored his first UFC victory in his third appearance as well. Late last year, “Kong” secured a second straight victory with a third-round stoppage win over fellow DWCS alum Josh Parisian, and looks to make the most of this opportunity against the newcomer Abdelwahab this weekend.

Stepping in for Justin Tafa, the 29-year-old Abdelwahab is 3-0 in MMA competition with a pair of victories in Jorge Masvidal’s bare-knuckle MMA promotion Gamebred Fighting Championship as well. He’s earned stoppages each time out, went 4-1 as an amateur with his only loss coming due to illegal strikes, and feels like an absolute live wire being thrown into the heavyweight talent pool.

Will Mayes’ UFC experience rule the day or can Abdelwahab make an immediate positive impression with this debut opportunity in Dallas?

Drakkar Klose vs. Rafa Garcia

Drakkar Klose punches Brandon Jenkins in a lightweight fight during the UFC Fight Night event at UFC APEX on April 16, 2022 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC)

Drakkar Klose punches Brandon Jenkins in a lightweight fight during the UFC Fight Night event at UFC APEX on April 16, 2022 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC)


Drakkar Klose and Rafa Garcia face off on Saturday night, each angling to secure their second win of 2022 and keep things moving forward in the lightweight division.’

Klose finally returned to action after a little over two years on the sidelines in April, registering a second-round stoppage win over Brandon Jenkins. Back working with John Crouch and the team at The MMA Lab, the veteran looked as sharp as ever against Jenkins and was poised to carry that over into his originally scheduled clash with Diego Ferreira, but will now look to do the same against Garcia.

After dropping each of his first two UFC appearances, Garcia enters Saturday’s short-notice assignment on a two-fight winning streak, having defeated Natan Levy by decision towards the end of last year before submitting Jesse Ronson in April. The 27-year-old earns rave reviews for his work ethic and strength from everyone he trains with, and can catapult himself to the fringes of the Top 15 with a quality effort this weekend.

This is an intriguing fight because Klose is one of those talented, skilled veterans that doesn’t get the respect he deserves, while Garcia seems to have really settled in to life on the UFC roster. We should get a spirited affair and whoever emerges victorious could be looking at a date with a ranked opponent next time out.

Michael Morales vs. Adam Fugitt

Michael Morales Octagon Interview | UFC 270: Ngannou vs Gane
Michael Morales Octagon Interview | UFC 270: Ngannou vs Gane
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Michael Morales looks to build on his outstanding promotional debut as he stays on the card and welcomes Adam Fugitt to the Octagon for the first time.

A member of the DWCS Class of 2021, Morales pushed his record to 13-0 with a first-round stoppage win over Trevin Giles at UFC 270. The 23-year-old from Ecuador, who trains with the team at Entram Gym in Tijuana, Mexico, was poised, patient, and then put Giles away with precision in January, looking like a real blue chip prospect in the process.

Fugitt gets the call to the UFC after Fortis MMA representative Ramiz Brahimaj was forced off the card with an undisclosed injury. The 33-year-old is 8-2 as a pro and comes in on a four-fight winning streak, most recently earning a 43-second stoppage win over Solomon Renfro at LFA 125 in February.

We should learn a lot more about Morales in this one as the shift in opponent creates a new wrinkle for the neophyte to deal with, while Fugitt can come in with a devil may care attitude, trying to make the most of an unexpected opportunity. Both men have high finishing rates, so don’t expect the judges to be needed in this one.

Joselyne Edwards vs. Ji Yeon Kim

Joselyne Edwards training during UFC Vegas 18 fight week

LAS VEGAS 02/03/21 - UFC bantamweight fighter Joselyne Edwards training at the UFC Performance Institute during UFC Vegas 18 fight week . (Photo credit Juan Cardenas @desautomatas)

February 3, 2021 in UFC Performance Institute

Joselyne Edwards looks for her second win of the summer as she steps in on Saturday to face off with Ji Yeon Kim in this bantamweight affair.

Edwards earned a victory at featherweight last month in Singapore at UFC 275, using a plethora of front kicks to defeat Ramona Pascual. She spent her entire career at bantamweight prior to her move up to featherweight last time out, and now drops back to 135 as a short-notice replacement.

Kim continues to search for a way back to the win column, and has been getting closer in her last two outings. Entering on a three-fight slide, the South Korean has earned Fight of the Night honors while landing on the wrong side of the 29-28 scores across the board in nail-biters with Molly McCann and Priscila Cachoeira.

Nicolae Negumereanu vs. Ihor Potieria

Nicolae Negumereanu of Romania reacts after his victory over Kennedy Nzechukwu of Nigeria in their light heavyweight fight during the UFC 272 event on March 05, 2022 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC)

Nicolae Negumereanu of Romania reacts after his victory over Kennedy Nzechukwu of Nigeria in their light heavyweight fight during the UFC 272 event on March 05, 2022 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC)

Nicolae Negumereanu of Romania reacts after his victory over Kennedy Nzechukwu of Nigeria in their light heavyweight fight during the UFC 272 event on March 05, 2022 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC)

Streaking light heavyweight Nicolae Negumereanu looks to keep things moving in a positive direction as he welcomes DWCS grad Ihor Potieriea to the Octagon for the first time on Saturday night in Dallas.

After dropping his debut by unanimous decision in 2019, Negumereanu has rattled off three straight wins, sandwiching a stoppage victory over Ike Villanueva between split decision nods over Aleksa Camur and Kennedy Nzechukwu. The 27-year-old is still a work in progress and just 13 fights into his professional career, but he’s shown glimpses of upside and aims to build on that here.

The 26-year-old Potieria ran through Lukasz Sudolski in the first round of their DWCS engagement last fall to earn a UFC contract, extending his winning streak to 17 in the process. There haven’t been many established talents or successful competitors standing across from him during that run, so it will be interesting to see how the Ukrainian handles sharing the Octagon with a more experienced and skilled foe this time around.

Light heavyweight can always use fresh names climbing the ranks, so it’s worth keeping an eye on this one to determine if one or both of these men could have a future in the 205-pound weight class.

Orion Cosce vs. Mike Diamond

Orion Cosce reacts after his victory over Matt Dixon in a welterweight bout during week three of Dana White's Contender Series Season 4 at UFC APEX on August 18 2020 in Las Vegas Nevada (Photo by Chris Unger/DWCS LLC/Zuffa LLC)
Orion Cosce reacts after his victory over Matt Dixon in a welterweight bout during week three of Dana White's Contender Series Season 4 at UFC APEX on August 18, 2020 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Chris Unger/DWCS LLC/Zuffa LLC)

Business kicks off in the welterweight division this weekend, as Orion Cosce and Mike Diamond each look to make up for losses in their respective debuts.

Another member of the DWCS Class of 2021, Cosce arrived in the UFC with a perfect 7-0 record, but fellow DWCS alum Phil Rowe found his rhythm early and put him away late in the second round.

As for Mike Diamond, the City Kickboxing representative debuted at UFC 271 in February, getting submitted in the first round by Jeremiah Wells in a bout where his limited experience in MMA shone through.

These two were originally supposed to fight in February at UFC 271 before Cosce got injured and replaced by Wells. This is a much more balanced matchup for each man than their initial pairings, and we should get a little better understanding of what each brings to the table from this one.

UFC 277: Peña vs Nunes, took place on Saturday, July 30, 2022 live from the American Airlines Center in Dallas, Texas. See the Final Results, Official Scorecards, and Who Won Bonuses - and relive the action on UFC Fight Pass!