Last night (Sat., July 30, 2022), Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) traveled to American Airlines Center in Dallas, Texas. UFC 277 really felt like a night for the hardcore fight fans. Though there were a pair of titles on the line, the overall star power was a bit lacking. For those fight fans who did pony up and tune in after a middling undercard, they were rewarded with some very fun fights.
Let’s take a look at the best performances and techniques:
Patience Is Key
Amanda Nunes was always better than Julianna Pena. We knew that before the shocking first fight, and frankly, we knew it afterward too. The question became whether or not Nunes could relax, train appropriately, and perform to the best of her ability. The Brazilian can still do just that. She made Nunes look like a regular challenger, bloody and desperately hoping for a submission from her back. How many knockdowns did Nunes land last night? Six? It was utter dominance, precisely what most fans expected eight months ago.
Pena is a gamer, but she was brutally outmatched last night on the feet and the mat. If anything, last night’s smashing actually makes her initial upset more impressive.
Brandon Moreno, Champion Once More
Brandon Moreno vs. Kai Kara-France took a round to heat up, but it proved to be a very technical, entertaining contest.
Kara-France entered with a smart game plan. He was doing all the right things, looking to limit Moreno’s jab with his low kicks and overhand right. Moreno, meanwhile, offered a couple of new looks, most notably his shifting left hook in attempts to cut off the cage. He also did a nice job of chaining takedowns into punches.
Moreno’s activity seemed to be keeping him ahead on the cards, but Kara-France seemed to turn it around in the third. He landed a slick takedown off a caught kick — Muay Thai style! — and then split open the Mexican fighter with an elbow. Moreno was agitated by his own blood and lost the plot a bit, chasing after Kara-France and running into some heavy counter shots.
Unfortunately for Kara-France, Moreno is a 125-pound tank. The man eats damage for breakfast and keeps firing. It was a problem in their first fight for the Kiwi, and it proved the deciding factor last night too. Kara-France landed big shots, the type that usually put his opponents down or at least make them rethink their strategy. Moreno, however, calmed back down and then unleashed a ripping body kick, one that ended his opponent’s evening.
Pantoja deserves a title shot, but it’s clear that Moreno vs. Figueiredo 4 is next. Hopefully, UFC is willing to let the Brazilian sit with his top contender position.
Don’t Fight In Texas
This sub header is a two-part joke:
- Derrick Lewis tends to get knocked out when he fights in Texas.
- The officiating in Texas is consistently awful.
Sergei Pavlovich’s quick stoppage over “The Black Beast” wasn’t the worst call in UFC history, but Dan Miragliotta really gave Lewis no opportunity to recover. Lewis has made a career out of comebacks, which makes it sting a bit more.
Beyond that blunder, all of UFC 277 was just weird. The referee stand ups were wildly inconsistent. The scorecards were all over the place. The silver lining is that the commentary crew is never more amusing than when trying to comprehend what the hell Texas officiants are thinking.
Some things never change.
Alexandre Pantoja is a damn good fighter.
To his credit, so is Alex Perez! It just wasn’t the former title challenger’s night, however, as the Brazilian blew him out of the water. Perez is accustomed to walking opponents down and putting on the hurt, but Pantoja flipped the script by brawling forward immediately. Just as Perez thought he was in a slugfest, Pantoja tripped him to the canvas, jumped his back, and submitted him.
Pantoja has wins against most of the elite Flyweights, so it’s far past time to get him in the cage with a belt on the line.
An Unfortunate End
Anthony Smith vs. Magomed Ankalaev was just starting to get interesting when it ended.
The first round was a lot of nothing. The two traded some kicks, and Ankalaev let off one or two slick counter combinations. Smith’s corner revealed the game plan: analyze the Dagestani in the first round, then turn up the heat in the second. Unfortunately for team “Lionheart,” Smith injured his leg somehow in the first, either from an Ankalaev check or from taking calf kicks.
Either way, Smith tried to throw some big punches to start the second, and he landed! It was suddenly interesting! Sadly, Smith’s wounded leg could barely hold him up. so he tried to wrestle and wound up on bottom. Ankalaev eventually postured up and dropped some bombs, forcing a finish to a fight we didn’t learn much in.
Is that enough for a title shot? No. Still, it should get Ankalaev in the cage with either Glover Teixeira or Jan Blachowicz.
The Development Of Dober
Drew Dober has really turned into such a good Lightweight.
Early on in his UFC career, Dober was a high-volume Muay Thai striker who didn’t hit that hard, was pretty easy to take down, and wasn’t that hard to hit himself. Each time he won, it felt at least mildly surprising, and few would have predicted he’d be on the roster nine years later.
He’s just so much better now.
Rafael Alves is terrifyingly athletic, able to pull out sudden explosions of nasty offense. Unfortunately, Dober is a hell of a spoiler, as his incredible chin has never faded away. The Brazilian talent landed some big shots early, but Dober’s consistency and body work slowly wore him down. Dober was solidly in control by the third, barring occasional flashy moments. Finally, one of his many lefts downstairs connected in the perfect spot, sending his opponent to the mat, curled up in a ball.
He’s really turned into a must-watch Lightweight.
- Michael Morales defeats Adam Fugitt via third-round knockout: Morales isn’t a perfect technician, but the 23 year old from Ecuador is special. He’s got so much energy, and he’s always looking to land big shots. To score his 14th victory and remain undefeated, Morales timed Fugitt late with a heavy 1-2. Fugitt had done some nice work by rolling after punches and firing, but he was bringing his eyes low and taking them off his opponent. As a result, it really stung when he got clipped, and Fugitt could not recover.
- Nicolae Negumereanu defeats Ihor Potieria via second-round knockout: It’s not everyday you watch a UFC fighter just take another UFC fighter’s lunch. Negumereanu really bullied his debuting opponent, using his wrestling skills early to land some thumping ground shots. In the second, Negumereanu was the fresher man, and his confidence grew as a result. He started really walking Potieria down, which culminated in a positively brutal combination of knees and punches to an opponent with no mouthpiece in. The win was vicious work for Negumereanu, who really showed new promise in this performance.
For complete UFC 277: “Nunes vs. Pena 2” results and play-by-play, click HERE.
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