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UFC 277

(Carmen Mandato/Getty Images)

The Stakes Are Massive In The UFC 277 Main Event

UFC 277
(Carmen Mandato/Getty Images)

The Stakes Are Massive In The UFC 277 Main Event

In December of 2021, Julianna Peña became the women’s bantamweight champion as she defeated Amanda Nunes at UFC 269. This went down as one of the biggest upsets in MMA history, as Nunes is largely considered the greatest female MMA fighter of all time. Now, the stakes are even higher as the pair rematch in the main event of UFC 277.

Peña Will Shape her Legacy

For Peña, this rematch will help define her legacy. At this point, Peña is sitting alongside fighters like Chris Weidman and Matt Serra. All of them are great fighters that beat legends. Weidman dethroned Anderson Silva as a massive underdog, while Serra knocked out a young George St. Pierre. As far as legacy goes, Weidman is regarded as a far better fighter than Serra. This is partially due to Weidman defeating Silva in their rematch, while Serra dropped his rematch to St. Pierre. In relation to Peña, she can go one of two ways. She can either build upon her legacy like Weidman or fall back to contender status like Serra. Her fate will entirely come down to if she can beat Nunes for a second time.

The Clock is Ticking for Nunes

At 34 years old, Nunes is in an interesting spot. She has fought in the UFC since 2013 with Invicta FC and Strikeforce fights in 2012 and 2011. Needless to say, she has fought the best fighters in the world for a long period of time. This rematch with Pena will provide her an opportunity to prove that she is still in her prime. Meanwhile, a loss will lead to some questions regarding her time left in MMA. Even if she decides to continue fighting, her options would not be appealing. She would either have to continue to defend her 145-pound belt or fight as a non-champion at 135-pounds for the first time since 2016. I know, defending her featherweight belt sounds great, but that division is so weak that the UFC does not even have rankings for the division. Essentially, she would be stat padding against some of the worst UFC fighters on the roster.

In terms of legacy, Nunes is looking to patch one of the few holes in her resume. She is already the female MMA goat, but a win will help her extend her lead over Valentina Shevchenko and other future legends. A loss will not be too damaging to her overall legacy. Rather, it would be viewed as Nunes losing because she fell out of her prime. That happens to most MMA legends. However, as we have established, that would be detrimental in other ways. If she gets her hand raised for Peña, she could continue to add to her resume against another generation of bantamweights.

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