• Rick

UFC 277: Pena vs Nunes

Updated: Jul 30

I want to start by thanking you, the reader, for coming to this page. Andy, DJ and I made the website a little over two months ago and we’re seeing unbelievable growth thanks to you all coming back for more content. We hope to continue to roll out different ideas (like the Twitter Spaces Thursday night), so if you ever think of exciting content you would like to see feel free to reach out to us via email or to me on twitter @RickHHSports. We couldn’t do it without you and hope that you continue to enjoy the content and profit alongside us. With that said, lets get into the card!


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UFC London provided us with yet another main event dud with Tom Aspinall tearing up his knee inside of a minute of the main event. While I hope he gets better quickly because he could be the next champion soon, we did cash our ticket and ended with yet another positive night. That makes 6 consecutive positive cards and 9 out of 10, good for +24.8u since we launched the website! It has been an unreal run that I appreciate each and every one of you riding along for, and I don’t want to stop now.


UFC 277 presents us with bangers from Blood Diamond’s kickboxing to Anthony Smith’s attempt to prove doubters wrong again, all the way to a man who is actually 3-0 against both fighters in our co-main event Interim title fight. All of this capped off by the question mark people have been waiting to have answered since she was tapped out earlier this year — is Amanda Nunes finished, or is she back for blood? Read my thoughts below and as always whether you fade or follow, best of luck!



Orion Cosce vs Blood Diamond (+155)


Blood Diamond is back to make good on the hype that Israel Adesanya put to his name. A disappointing first fight against Jeremiah Wells where he was wrestled and grappled for the entire first round before being choked out is how fans remember him, but the kickboxer is still one of the deadliest strikers in the UFC. He has 52 kickboxing wins and trains with some of the best defensive wrestlers in the world in Izzy and Volkanovski. While he struggled in his last outing, there’s hope that the few stuffed takedowns in addition to those training partners could provide dividends for him. Cosce lost his debut as well to a talented and very long (10in reach advantage) Phil Hawes. He was pieced apart on the feet to the point he was melted by a hook and finished right after. What he does have is clever takedowns and uses them early. He’s not as adept on the ground as Wells but should be able to get Diamond to the mat. I’m not certain he can keep it there though and if Diamond is able to get to and stay on his feet, this fight is as good as over. I’ll sprinkle on Diamond but until I see quality improvement on his wrestling I wouldn’t lay much on it.


Pick: Diamond +155 (0.5u)

PhotoSport



Nick Negumereanu vs Ihor Potieria (-120)


Second up we have an Eastern European battle between Nick and Ihor. Negumereanu came into the UFC as a fantastic wrestler and grappler but hasn’t shown it yet. He traded with Kennedy Nzechukwu in a split decision win where he showcased his durability and volume. He likes to make it dirty and does his best work when he does get in close because he’s not the most technical striker at range. If Ihor keeps this fight at range this fight could end quickly as Potieria furiously moves forward with wide, looping strikes from both sides in attempts to put his opposition out quickly. He doesn’t throw much up the middle and has gotten away with it due to his low level of competition. I don’t think Negumereanu allows Ihor to get away with solely throwing looping shots to close distance and he’ll use that wrestling and clinch work to wear him down. Take the dog here with confidence.


Pick: Negumereanu Even (1u)

Bjorn Morfin - Mymmanews.com



Ji Yeon Kim vs Joselyne Edwards (-125)


Kim might be the best fighter to lose her first 3 UFC fights you’ve ever seen. She was very competitive in her outings against Alexa Grasso, Molly McCann, and Priscilla Cachoeira. She boxed with Grasso and McCann but has some glaring question marks. She’s very composed on the feet and does good work in the clinch but is slow and leaves her chin up far too often. That speed disadvantage will be glaring against the swift, consistent kicks of Joselyne Edwards, who uses front kicks and stomps to keep fighters at range. She showcases quick combinations and versatile striking which should get it done as Kim lacks power behind anything she throws. These two do much of the same work but Edwards is just better across the board. I’ll take the favorite who might even manage a knockout by the third round.


Pick: Edwards -125 (1u) & Edwards by KO +1000 (.1u)

Mike Jackson / Legacy Fighting Alliance



Drakkar Klose vs Rafa Garcia (+170)


Drakkar Klose came back to the UFC with a bang, bullying Brandon Jenkins for as long as it lasted. If you watch the fight I’m sure you too will be screaming for Jenkins to defend himself at multiple points of the fight, but eventually an overhand right puts him down and out. 4-1 in his last 5, Klose lost to Beneil Dariush but beat Bobby Green and Lando Vannata among others. He’s eased all doubts about how he’d return from injury and is looking to put an exclamation point against Garcia who has taken this fight on short notice. A conventional boxer on the feet and decent offensive wrestler, Garcia is hoping to springboard into the rankings after a dominating Jesse Ronson back in April. Two good boxers but Klose has a decided advantage in the clinch and at range, mixing in kicks at range as well. This fight will be a banger and is one of the best of the evening, I’ll go with the heavy favorite to get it done.


Pick: Klose -210 (1u)

Jeff Bottari / Zuffa LLC



Don’Tale Mayes vs Hamdy Abdelwahab (+135)


If you have a moment, go to youtube and watch Hamdy’s fight against Tyler Lee. The former Egyptian Olympic wrestler faced what looked to be a 300 pound out of shape Redneck man, and his other opposition looked similar. Lee tried to takedown the Olympian to begin the fight, failed, then was knocked out within 30 seconds. Where Hamdy’s MMA competition is poor, Mayes has been alright. He’s beaten his last two opponents in Josh Parisian and Roque Martinez, utilizing surprising takedowns and a crucific position to end the latter by stoppage. Hamdy obviously has the wrestling to take Mayes down, but doesn’t have the refined Jiu-Jitsu nor striking to do much with it. Maybe he’s developed over the last few months but I can’t justify backing the dog. Either way I doubt either guy makes it to see the third round.


Pick: Fight not to complete 2 rounds -125 (0.5u)



Drew Dober vs Rafael Alves (+175)


Both Dober and Alves have at least 5 wins by decision, knockout, and submission so it’s safe to say don’t have any one trick ponies in this prelim bout. Starting with the underdog, Alves is only 1-1 in the UFC with his win in impressive fashion against Marc Diakiese where he busted him with a jab, followed it up with a flying knee, then jumped guillotine and secured the tap. If you think Alves is exciting, Dober is on another level. He loves to get into brawls and his last outing against Terrance McKinney was nothing but. Dober probably was knocked out and reawoken by following shots on many occasions in the fight, but Dober managed to defy the odds and come back to hit a knee of his own and then pummel TWrecks to a TKO. His resume is far superior with wins against Nasrat Haqparast (R1 KO) and Alexander Hernandez (R2 TKO), and even though he lost to Beneil Dariush and Islam Makhachev he showed moments in each fight. His endurance and staying power will be the difference in what will be a dominant victory for Dober.


Pick: Dober ITD +110 (1u) & Dober/Morales Parlay -128 (1u)

MMAJunkie.com



Alex Morono vs Matt Semelsberger (-165)


If there’s one thing I’m certain of tonight (which in UFC it’s hard to be) it’s that this fight will be on the feet. The Great White is a UFC veteran at the age of 31 and is on a 3 fight winning streak, beating Mickey Gall definitively in his last fight. He prods forward with heavy feet using his jab well and throws a lot of 1-2s, but his power shots leave a lot to be desired. He puts his head down and wings wide hooks aimlessly, which against a much larger and precise striker in Semelsberger could get him in trouble. Matt’s lone loss came to Khaos Williams by decision where he honestly went strike for strike in much of that fight. Good at range throwing volume and power with endurance to boot, I’ll take the less experienced Semelsberger to get it done against Morono.


Pick: Semelsberger -165 (1u)

UFC.com



Magomed Ankalaev vs Anthony Smith (+365)


17-1 Magomed Ankalaev faces off against the resurgent 36-16 Anthony Smith, who was an illegal knee against Jon Jones away from holding the belt. Two strikers who work at very different paces, Ankalaev is known for his straight shots and kicks to all 3 levels, highlighted by 9 knockouts and 0 submission wins over the course of his illustrious career. He tends to dictate the pace of the fight, operating at a slow, methodical pace picking apart and wearing down opponents over the course of the fight. Anthony Smith is much the opposite. Cardio and pressure are two of the biggest weapons in his game, utilizing his own kicks and jabs well and being able to implement submissions well, particularly after wobbling opposition. He doesn’t check leg kicks well at all and that could be a problem, but if he’s able to draw Ankalaev into his game I think he could present some major problems in making this a dog fight. I’ll take a flier on the dog to get it done in Anthony Smith.


Pick: Smith +400 (0.5u)

Chris Unger / Zuffa LLC



Alexandre Pantoja vs Alex Perez (+155)


In another universe where both of these fighters won their matchups with Deiveson Figueiredo this would be the interim title fight tonight instead of Kai Kara-France and Brandon Moreno and here’s why: Perez’s only UFC loss was his last fight against him, and Pantoja is 3-0 over both France and Moreno. Pantoja’s list of high quality opponents doesn’t end there, he’s beaten Matt Schnell, Manel Kape, and most recently Brandon Royval among others and his only other notable UFC loss was to Askar Askarov.


As far as a stylistic matchup goes, this should be fireworks. Perez is a great wrestle-boxer who utilizes volume and variety to get his wins rather than power and strength. He utilizes solid leg-kicks and actually statistically is better in every category than Pantoja but that can be attributed to a stark difference in quality of opposition. As for Pantoja (who looked great in his 2 losses to Askarov and Figueiredo), he has far heavier hands and phenomenal Jiu-Jitsu on the mat. He more than likely won’t throw the volume that Perez will, but his shots will count for a lot more and if we see this go to the mat we might not see it come back to the feet. Perez has had a 2 year layoff since his Figueiredo fight which poses a lot of questions, and we know just how good Pantoja has been against the elite competition in Flyweight, so I’m going to go with the favorite to get it done in Alexandre Pantoja.


Pick: Pantoja by Sub or Dec -125 (1u)

Esther Lin / MMAFighting



Derrick Lewis vs Sergei Pavlovich (-115)


We all know what Derrick Lewis is and if you don’t, go to youtube and look up a compilation of his knockouts. He has the most in UFC history and that’s essentially the only thing he does. He doesn’t throw kicks and he tires out quickly in fights, but those hands have absolute dynamite in them. Sergei Pavlovich is cut from a similar cloth in that he’s a knockout artist (12 of 15 wins by KO). None of his UFC fights have left the 1st round and his lone loss was to Alistair Overeem back in 2018. The caveat is that Pavlovich’s competition is far, far worse than Derrick Lewis, so while impressive in his fights Derrick Lewis would also annihilate that competition. Lewis has been chirping the media this week and looks motivated to prove to them he’s not done after his KO loss to Tai Tuivasa. Expect the Black Beast to show there’s levels to this game and notch another win in Texas on Saturday.


Pick: Derrick Lewis ITD +140 (1u)

Esther Lin / MMAFighting



Brandon Moreno vs Kai Kara-France (+171)


Kai Kara-France is coming off the two most impressive performances of his career, knocking out Cody Garbrandt in show-stopping fashion, and then doing similarly against Askar Askarov, shocking the masses as he was a sizable dog (+170) in March. Moreno’s last 3 fights were all against Figueiredo and all 3 were unbelievably close, proven by the 1-1-1 record over the 3 fights. These two matched up before in 2019 where Moreno was incrementally better in a close win, propelling him up the rankings towards those championship fights. The difference in this fight will be what it is in all of Moreno’s fights, his game elevates with each round. Moreno doesn’t start slow necessarily, but as others slow down he speeds up and even though Kara-France has heart, speed, and power, I’m not sure where he is better than Moreno other than possibly hand-speed. This fight is destined for a 5 round masterpiece and should be the most entertaining of the night. Crack open your beer and watch Moreno evolve as each round goes on.


Pick: Moreno in R4, R5 or Decision -110 (1.5u)


Julianna Pena vs Amanda Nunes (-275)


The Lioness, arguably the greatest women’s fighter of all time, is back to exact her revenge after losing as a gargantuan favorite to Pena. In the first round Nunes spent herself trying to knock Pena out and unlike almost every other fighter Nunes has gone up against she never got rocked. Pena then capitalized on a spent Nunes and got her to the ground and choked her out with ease. If you watch that second round back it looks like Nunes had zero energy to fight anything Pena was throwing. I sincerely doubt this happens again for 2 reasons. First, she had COVID before the matchup and we don’t know what that did to her preparation and cardio leading up to it. Secondly, she’s made wholesale changes to her camp by switching gyms and refocusing and I believe the GOAT will make adjustments and refocus to reclaim her 2nd belt she rightfully deserves.


Pick: Nunes ITD -120 (1.5u)

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