UFC 277 Preview and Predictions
The UFC is returning to Dallas, Texas with UFC 277 on Saturday, July 30. For this card, the UFC will have two championship fights that are rematches at the top of the card. In addition, the main card will be rounded out with ranked fighters and fan favorites. Today, Garrett Burroughs and I will breakdown each fight and give you a prediction.
Here are our preview record thus far.
#4 Magomed Ankalaev vs #5 Anthony Smith- Light Heavyweight
James: Magomed Ankalaev and Anthony Smith will open the main card of UFC 277. Ankalaev is one of the hottest prospects in the light heavyweight division. At 17-1, he has proven to be an elite light heavyweight, working his way to the No. 4 spot in the rankings. If he can defeat Smith at UFC 277 there is a chance that he receives a title shot. For Smith, he is in the midst of a career revival. In his last three fights, he is 3-0 with a trio of first-round finishes. While he is less likely than Ankalaev to fight for a title, if he wins, he is not far behind.
I think this fight will be more competitive than most sportsbooks or fans think. From what I can tell, the popular opinion is that Ankalaev runs through Smith. I understand where that is coming from as Ankalaev strikes well from a distance. He accomplishes this with his power and great kicks. Plus, he is a very good grappler. The only major flaw in his game is that he can be inactive at times. That is where Smith can find success. If he can get into boxing range and out volume Ankalaev, he can win rounds. Regardless of who wins, I believe Smith is skilled enough to make this a close fight. However, I do believe that Ankalaev will win via decision.
Garrett: Our first fight of the UFC 277 main card pits the up-and-comer against the grizzled vet. The veteran, Anthony Smith, is a former championship contender, having taken Jon Jones to his limits back in 2019. Since that time, Smith has gone 4-2 in his last six fights, most notably beating Alexander Gustafsson. Smith is a heavy underdog in this fight, and he doesn’t quite seem to understand why. Smith is as tough and as game as it comes.
However, Magomed Ankalaev is a different breed. Ankalaev looks to smother you with relentless pressure and wear you down. Ankalaev has beaten former title challengers in his last two fights (Thiago Santos and Volkan Oezdemir) and looked sensational. Ankalaev should coast to an easy victory here. Ankalaev via TKO.
#4 Alexandre Pantoja vs #6 Alex Perez- Flyweight
James: Alexandre Pantoja and Alex Perez are just outside the flyweight title picture. With a win, either fighter can break in, though. For Pantoja, he has won two fights in a row to boost his MMA record to 24-5. On the other hand, Perez is coming off a title loss to Deiveson Figueiredo at UFC 255 in November of 2020.
In this fight, I am curious to see how Perez looks. Since he has not fought since 2020, we could see some serious ring rust. With that being said, Perez is only 30. In theory, he could have spent the last two years making improvements, but we cannot count on that either. At this point, we know Perez is a great wrestler with phenomenal leg kicks. Meanwhile, Pantoja is a well-rounded fighter, but he excels at landing submissions. On the feet, he is an accurate puncher that throws a great jab and straight. In addition, he kicks the body and legs. Overall, I think Pantoja’s Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu could counter Perez’s wrestling. On the feet, I think Pantoja will out volume Perez. Give me Pantoja by decision.
Garrett: The American Top Team standout Alexandre Pantoja is looking to continue his rise at 125lbs against Alex Perez. His most recent fight against Brandon Royval in which he won by submission was arguably his best performance. However, Pantoja has been out of action since August 2021, and ring rust at times can prove to be a real thing. His return fight is one to watch.
Perez is certainly a welcome back party for sure. While he was dominated in his last fight, losing to Figueiredo via first round submission, don’t let that fool you. He has won 11 of his last 12 and was showing to be a rising prospect in the division. Perez is young enough to bounce back from back-to-back losses, which I believe he will have to face here. Pantoja will be a future title challenger and that doesn’t stop here. Pantoja via submission.
#5 Derrick Lewis vs #11 Sergei Pavlovich- Heavyweight
James: The UFC leader in knockout wins, Derrick Lewis, will look to get back in the win column at UFC 277. In his last bout, he lost to the hard-hitting Tai Tuivasa at UFC 271. Before that, he was 5-1 with his only loss coming in a championship bout to Ciryl Gane. Across the cage from Lewis will be Sergei Pavlovich. Pavlovich is yet another hard-hitting heavyweight. Thus far in his UFC tenure, he has gone 3-1 with a trio of consecutive first-round knockout victories.
This fight will be a matter of who can land a knockout blow first. On one hand, Pavlovich will look to utilize his length to land a powerful straight shot. On the other hand, Lewis will look to get on the inside and land a massive hook or uppercut. Lewis is also an underrated wrestler with sneaky athleticism. Those traits may come in handy in this fight as well. Overall, I think that Lewis will be able to find a hole in Pavlovich’s interior defense. I will take Lewis by second-round knockout.
Garrett: Typically, I would ride with a man who willing told the world on pay-per-view his balls were hot. Lewis is an overwhelming fan favorite who is looking to break a bit of a cold streak, after dropping two of his last three. At 37, how much does he have left in the tank? What he does have left will be put up to the test.
Sergei Pavlovich is a stud. Aside from a TKO loss to legend Alistair Overeem, Pavlovich is a finishing machine, with12 of his 15 wins all via KO/TKO. The pace set by Pavlovich will surely drain the small reserve of energy Lewis has, and with a weakened chin, I don’t see how Pavlovich won’t add to his finish list. Pavlovich via TKO.
#1 Brandon Moreno vs #2 Kai Kara-France- Flyweight
James: In the co-main event of UFC 277, Brandon Moreno and Kai Kara-France will compete for the UFC interim flyweight championship. Moreno is a former champion going 1-1-1 in title fights against Figueiredo. Meanwhile, Kara-France is getting this title fight off the back of a three-fight win streak against Askar Askarov, Cody Garbrandt, and Rogerio Bontorin.
Moreno will have a definite edge on the ground in this bout. However, Kara-France has shown good defensive grappling in the past, but there is a solid argument to be made that Moreno is the best grappler at flyweight. At a minimum, he is one of the best. At the same time, Moreno and Kara-France are fairly evenly matched on the feet. Kara-France will be quicker and more powerful while being very technical. On the other hand, Moreno has a better chin and cardio. Plus, he works the body well. I think Moreno will be able to pressure Kara-France while attacking the body. This should result in Moreno pulling ahead in the late rounds. I will take Moreno by decision.
Garrett: I love both guys. Why must I choose between them? Can I pick a draw so I don’t have to pick a loser? No? Fair enough, I’ll carry on.
Brandon Moreno and Kai Kara-France will be fighting for the interim UFC Flyweight title at UFC 277. Moreno, a former champion himself, is looking to get back to the mountain top. Moreno is something of a Swiss Army knife in there, finding new ways to frustrate his opponents. That championship experience plus is unorthodox striking should bode him well on Saturday.
However, Kai Kara-France has been on the come up for quite some time. City Kickboxing, which is appearing to be arguably the best gym in the world having produced two current champions, looks to add a third with Kara France. Kara-France has good power in his hands and works in takedowns incredibly well with feints and setting up everything from there. It’s great to see him put it all together.
It would be a great story to see Moreno win and set up yet another fight between him and Figueiredo, I have to pick the underdog here. Kara-France is on the run of his life, and that desire to establish his own name at City Kickboxing and in the division will drive him to a win on Saturday. I’ll take the underdog here and pick Kara-France via decision.
(C) Julianna Peña vs #1 Amanda Nunes- Women’s Bantamweight
James: Julianna Peña and Amanda Nunes will face off in a highly anticipated rematch in the main event of UFC 277. In their first bout at UFC 269, Peña was able to dethrone the Nunes, the greatest female fighter of all time, to earn the women’s bantamweight championship via rear naked choke in the second round. In the fight, Peña was able to withstand the power punches from Nunes while landing a multitude of jabs. Eventually, Nunes tired and Peña capitalized with a submission victory.
For the most part, I think this fight will look similar to the first. Peña’s chin should still be strong enough to weather the storm from Nunes. However, I do expect that Nunes will have better cardio this time around. Plus, utilizing her strong leg kicks could pay dividends. At the same time, I still think Peña will be able to make Nunes tire, even if it takes longer this time around. Implementing her wrestling would be a good way to achieve that. Making Nunes defend takedowns or get off the bottom would certainly damage Nunes’ cardio. Regardless, I think Peña finish the fight after making Nunes fatigue. I will take Peña by fifth-round submission.
Garrett: Lord, we’ve had a bad string of luck on main events, recently, haven’t we James?
Look, in my original preview of their first fight. I didn’t give Peña much of a chance. I don’t think most people did (well, except Dadesanya). As much as I want to try and hype Peña up and talk about her potentially doing it again. I just can’t.
I’ve said multiple times that I believe Amanda Nunes is not only the greatest WMMA fighter of all time, but perhaps the greatest MMA fighter of all time, gender aside. She’s excellent. Lest we forget, in their first fight Nunes dominated the first round. Cardio seemed to be a bit of an issue, but I can guarantee that will be corrected here. Nunes will reclaim her throne, and The Lioness will rule the land yet again. Nunes via decision.
*Fighter information via Tapology *