The UFC will be live in the American Airlines Arena in Dallas, Texas, on Saturday night for UFC 277 for the second time, capping off an action-packed month of July.
This weekend's wrap-up to a remarkable month of action inside the Octagon should not disappoint, with a championship rematch in the women's bantamweight division between Julianna Pena and Amanda Nunes, an action-packed interim flyweight title fight between former champ Brandon Moreno and rising flyweight star Kai Kara-France, and critical and competitive matchups across a variety of divisions.
Julianna Peña vs. Amanda Nunes
Julianna Peña and Amanda Nunes will share the cage for the second time, seven months after their first fight and a stint of coaching opposite each other on Season 30 of The Ultimate Fighter.
Peña stunned everyone except herself and her team in December when she delivered her pledge to dethrone Nunes. She survived a challenging first round and came out pressing in the second, keeping the champion on the defensive until eventually drawing a tap with less than 90 seconds remaining in the frame.
In the first session, Nunes appeared to be in command and having fun, putting Pena on the canvas and controlling her, seemingly prepared to stroll to her 13th consecutive triumph. However, when the challenger began to fight back, Nunes started to swing wildly and fade quickly, committing some of the same mistakes she had seemingly worked out of her game years before.
They're about to do it again, with Pena full of confidence after defeating Nunes the first time and "The Lioness" shouting about reclaiming her crown. This will not be a fight decided by skill advancements or tactical modifications but by desire and drive.
Will the champion want it more this time, or will the challenger restore the championship she lost in December and draw level with her main rival?
Brandon Moreno vs. Kai Kara-France
The co-main event is also a rematch, but this time Brandon Moreno and Kai Kara-France will compete for the interim UFC flyweight championship.
Moreno won the first fight between these two by unanimous decision at UFC 245 and aims to recapture a piece of the belt he's been wrestling with Deiveson Figueiredo for the last three fights. With their series tied at 1-1-1, most expected a fourth meeting between the two, but with the Brazilian champion incapacitated, an interim title battle involving the former champion made perfect sense.
Matching Kara-France against Moreno was also a logical pick since the New Zealander has gone 4-1 since their first meeting and enters Saturday's bout on a three-fight winning run. After knocking out Rogerio Bontorin and Cody Garbrandt in the first round in 2021, "Don't Blink" knocked out Askar Askarov in March, demonstrating strong takedown defense and the kind of composure needed to defeat Moreno this weekend.
Moreno's first fight since leaving Entram Gym and moving his training to Glory MMA & Fitness under the careful eye of James Krause will be intriguing to see what kind of influence — if any — the change has on his approach and performance on Saturday night.
Whoever wins will have to wait for Figueiredo's return, while the loser will remain one of the division's finest. Three years ago, these two put on an exciting brawl, and the rematch should be no different this weekend.
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