In an evening the place two fighters reclaimed championship gold and rising stars made their instances for title pictures, what had been the most important moments at UFC 277? Jeff Wagenheim, Marc Raimondi and Brett Okamoto provide up their takeaways from a highlight-packed occasion in Dallas.
The world is as soon as once more regular on its axis, gravity has regained its pull, and oxygen has returned to the ambiance. All is regular on the planet. The beforehand declawed GOAT of ladies’s MMA is again to being The Biggest of Proper Now.
Amanda Nunes battered and bloodied Julianna Peña for 5 brutally one-sided rounds on Saturday evening to regain her women’s bantamweight championship in the principle occasion of UFC 277 at American Airways Middle in Dallas. Thus Nunes, who is also a featherweight champ, is again to her standing as a uncommon champion reigning concurrently in two weight courses.
Nunes, who left American Prime Staff after her December loss to Peña and started her own gym, confirmed off a brand new wrinkle in her sport and displayed her well-established Octagon smarts. Paired along with her bodily abilities and toughness, Nunes’ poise and command contained in the cage made her the perfect within the sport.
The brand new look was Nunes combating nearly solely as a southpaw, and it efficiently made Peña hesitant along with her advances. That allowed Nunes to function from a distance the place she may harm her opponent — which she did on a number of events, together with three knockdowns in Spherical 2 — whereas not placing herself in pointless hazard.
Nunes obtained into such a move that after utilizing Peña for goal follow throughout a number of stretches, she switched issues up by taking the combat to the canvas, the place Nunes landed large elbows from prime place to make Peña a bloody mess.
Peña saved combating just like the champion that she was. She frequently tried submissions, and she or he gave the impression to be near locking one thing in on just a few events. However Nunes defended effectively every time, and after each escape, she landed a punishing elbow or punch as payback. It was a virtuosic efficiency, gritty and swish.
At age 34, Nunes nonetheless is a fearsome pressure. And after 26 professional fights, she nonetheless is motivated.
“I really feel like I can develop much more,” Nunes stated within the Octagon after the win.
Be careful, prime 135-pound ladies. And also you, too, 145-pounders.
Amongst Nunes’ accomplishments on this evening, she did one thing few former UFC champions have. She was the thirteenth to lose a title and get a right away rematch, and 10 have did not regain the belt. Earlier than Nunes climbed again on prime of the world this weekend, solely Deiveson Figueiredo and Randy Couture had seen that success.
“Making historical past once more!” Nunes stated afterward. “Double champ once more, child. Let’s go!” — Jeff Wagenheim
Figueiredo vs. Moreno rising as certainly one of UFC’s greatest rivalries
Brandon Moreno and Kai Kara-France maintain nothing again as they go at one another of their UFC 277 bout.
Kai Kara-France is a wonderful fighter. A championship-quality fighter. He has all of the instruments to succeed, together with some lovely hanging and one of many world’s greatest gyms behind him in Metropolis Kickboxing. However he could not get in the best way of future: Figueiredo vs. Moreno 4 was meant to occur.
It ought to have all alongside, if not for Figueiredo’s hand accidents after their third combat in January. And now it’s going to, in earnest, probably on the finish of this 12 months or the start of subsequent 12 months. Moreno even stated he’d do it in Figueiredo’s residence nation of Brazil.
Let’s discuss that third combat for a second. Figueiredo gained a detailed determination, and it may have gone both method. Many thought Moreno gained. However practically everybody agreed they need to run it again. What number of occasions has that ever occurred? After a trilogy, there was a lot enterprise left unfinished that it was practically unanimous that they needed to get again on the market for an additional potential 25 minutes.
It is insanity. And it is reliable. Figueiredo and Moreno are the 2 greatest flyweights on the planet, and each combat they’ve had has been action-packed. From their 2020 draw that sparked all of it, to Moreno choking out Figueiredo in 2021 to develop into the primary Mexican-born champion in UFC historical past, or Figueiredo getting his revenge within the tightly contested bout at UFC 270 in January.
This rivalry is not the most important attract UFC historical past, absolutely. Flyweights have struggled to promote traditionally. Trash discuss has been uttered, principally from Figueiredo’s aspect. However the two appeared to make peace within the Octagon on Saturday evening.
None of that issues, although. This collection of fights highlights the abilities each possess and will likely be checked out fondly for years to come back. Figueiredo and Moreno will likely be inked collectively within the annals of UFC historical past. There’s one thing cool about not only a quadrilogy or a grudge match; it is a true generational rivalry.
Heck, allow them to do a best-of-seven collection. Why not? — Marc Raimondi
Who’s subsequent for the standout fighters after UFC 277?
So who’s up subsequent for the titleholders and prime contenders? How does the UFC guide Magomed Ankalaev transferring ahead? Brett Okamoto performs matchmaker.
Amanda Nunes, bantamweight champion
Who ought to be subsequent? Ketlen Vieira
You are able to do a 3rd Nunes vs. Julianna Peña combat straight away. Completely you’ll be able to. The collection is 1-1. Each fights had been tremendous entertaining. So, why am I suggesting we transfer on? I am suggesting we transfer on for proper now. Throughout her bantamweight and featherweight title runs, we waited lengthy to search out somebody who may come near being Nunes’ equal. Now, once we lastly discover one, we’ll make the identical combat 3 times in a single 12 months? I believe it could be a rush to take action.
Full credit score to Peña for successful the primary combat and full credit score to her for making the second aggressive, however Nunes clearly gained the rematch. There is no controversy right here. Let this story breathe for a minute. Construct up anticipation for a 3rd combat, reasonably than presumably feed fatigue of the matchup by reserving it instantly. The champ now appears human and has realized she’s not invincible. Let’s give the following girl up an opportunity.
Wild card: Julianna Peña
As I stated, you’ll be able to completely do the trilogy subsequent and I will not complain. However personally, it is not what I might do. I believe there’s a 100% probability we are going to see this combat a 3rd time. It makes an excessive amount of sense for it by no means to occur once more. I believe it could profit from a little bit of time to construct up.
Brandon Moreno, interim flyweight champion
Who ought to be subsequent? Deiveson Figueiredo
You hardly ever see a state of affairs the place the game needs to see the identical two fighters sq. off 4 occasions in lower than three years, however that is the state of affairs we discover ourselves in at 125 kilos. This was the combat to make even earlier than Saturday. Nearly as good and as deserving as Kai Kara-France was of that chance, the premier matchup of this weight class is Figueiredo vs. Moreno. And though they’ve fought 3 times, unfinished enterprise continues to be right here. The final combat was shut. I would not say it was a theft in any respect. I scored it for Figueiredo. But it surely left unanswered questions. It left us unhappy as to the place the rivalry stood. Run it again. And January in Brazil sounds phenomenal.
Wild card: Alexandre Pantoja
If one thing surprising occurs with Figueiredo’s damage or contract, there’s a good (terrific, truly) backup possibility in Pantoja. After all, it is a distant second relating to what ought to occur. It must be Figueiredo vs. Moreno to unify the belts. However once more, if one thing had been to occur, Pantoja is coming off a first-round win over Alex Perez on Saturday, he is obtained a previous win in opposition to Moreno from 2018 and he is gained three in a row.
Magomed Ankalaev, gentle heavyweight
Who ought to be subsequent? Glover Teixeira
All of it is determined by what route the UFC takes with its champion, Jiri Prochazka. Prochazka has requested to run again a combat in opposition to Teixeira instantly.
I would reasonably see him combat Jan Blachowicz subsequent. If that occurs, you’d probably be taking a look at one other combat for Teixeira, and I like this matchup. Some may accuse me of throwing Teixeira to the wolves, as Ankalaev seems like a troublesome matchup for anybody. However I am completed underestimating Teixeira simply because he is in his early 40s. The person has repeatedly proved that he is nonetheless obtained it, and he is at the moment ranked No. 2 within the division behind the champ. It is a honest combat for each.
Wild card: Jan Blachowicz
If the UFC opts to guide Prochazka vs. Teixeira 2, then Ankalaev vs. Blachowicz as a No. 1 contender combat makes good sense.