UFC 277 went down last night (Sat., July 30, 2022), featuring a thrilling night of fights spearheaded by the rematch between Julianna Pena and Amanda Nunes. After 25 minutes of action, Pena became bantamweight champion once again, dominating Pena for the duration of the fight (see it again here). In the pay-per-view (PPV) co-main event, Brandon Moreno stopped Kai Kara-France via ground-and-pound in the third round to become the interim Flyweight champion (highlights).
Winner: Amanda Nunes
Who She Should Fight Next: Valentina Shevchenko trilogy fight
Kayla Harrison is not walking through that Octagon door anytime soon, so let’s stop pretending like she is. A trilogy fight against Pena is possible since “The Venezuelan Vixen” pulled off one of the biggest upsets in UFC history less than one year ago, but there is also a potential trilogy fight against Valentina Shevchenko lurking. UFC President, Dana White, is open to the idea and, quite frankly, is much, much more intriguing. They are the No. 1 and No. 2 best pound-for-pound best female fighters on UFC’s roster and they really don’t have any clear-cut contenders in their respective division who warrant a title fight at the moment. This one should be a no-brainer.
Winner: Brandon Moreno
Who He Should Fight Next: Deiveson Figueiredo for a fourth time
After Moreno disposed of Kai Kara-France, it was guaranteed that he would face division kingpin, Figueiredo, for a fourth time. The two men buried that hatchet inside the Octagon last night, but they will definitively give it everything they’ve got when they start punching each other in the face, possibly in December. There isn’t much to say about this fight that hasn’t already been said except prepare for another war.
Winner: Sergei Pavlovich
Who He Should Face Next: Alexander Volkov
Pavlovich picked up his fourth straight win after knocking out Derrick Lewis in the first round, putting him on track to infiltrate the Top 5. A fight against Volkov seems ideal because even if Pavlovich does break into the Top 5, I don’t think he will get matched up against anyone ahead of him. Volkov currently sits at No. 7 and is coming off a big win over Jairzinho Rozenstruik. Having said that, Pavlovich and Volkov are both Russian and have trained together in the past; therefore, it’s unclear if they are willing to put professional (or personal) friendships aside to make money together.
Winner: Alexandre Pantoja
Who He Should Face Next: Wait for a title shot
Now that Moreno and Figueiredo are set to put an end to their rivalry inside the Octagon, Pantoja should fight the winner after he earned his third straight win following a first round destruction of Alex Perez in Dallas. Pantoja is ranked No. 4 and the men in front of him, Kai Kara-France and Askar Askarov, are coming off losses. If Pantoja wants his shot at the strap, he is likely going to have to sit out awhile ... perhaps until the first quarter of 2023.
Winner: Magomed Ankalaev
Who He Should Face Next: Title shot ... maybe?
Ankalaev picked up his ninth straight win, defeating Anthony Smith via technical knockout (TKO) in the second round of their fight. Currently sitting at No. 4, Ankalaev is in the perfect spot to get the next shot at the strap. A rematch between division champion, Jiri Prochazka, and Glover Teixeira isn’t confirmed yet, but that might be what we get later this year. Jan Blachowicz is also lurking, which means if Prochazka and Teixeira do tango a second time, I wouldn’t be surprised if UFC matchmakers booked Ankalaev vs. Blachowicz as a title eliminator fight.
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