A pair of title fight rematches headline Saturday night’s UFC 277 in Dallas.
The main event at American Airlines Center is a runback of one of the most shocking results in UFC history, as bantamweight champion Julianna Pena (11-4) of Spokane, Wash. puts her newly won crown on the line against featherweight titleholder Amanda Nunes (21-5) of Brazil.
Widely regarded as the greatest women’s fighter in MMA history, Nunes had not lost a fight for more than seven years when she stepped into the Octagon as a dual champion and huge favorite to meet Pena at UFC 269. The odds did not deter Pena, who overcame a slow first round before pouring it on in the second and claiming the title via rear-naked choke submission.
Nunes has chalked up the loss to simply having a bad night.
“I become a double champion, and I always do all those things, like kill all those girls, clean the division,” Nunes told ESPN. “I was like comfortable — too comfortable. I was in a moment like, ‘Nobody is really gonna beat me’ until Julianna came into the picture. Now, it’s like another excitement. Let’s go. I love this.”
The evening’s second rematch is a title concocted under a bit flimsier premise. Former UFC flyweight champion Brandon Moreno (19-6-2) of Tijuana, Mexico takes on New Zealand’s Kai Kara-France (24-9) in a bout for an interim championship.
In this case, Moreno and Deiveson Figueiredo swapped the flyweight title back and forth, with the latter regaining the title in January. Figueiredo asked for a bit more time to conduct what would be the fourth fight between the two, but UFC president Dana White declined and made this interim bout instead.
So Moreno, who is 5-1-2 in his past eight (4-0-1 against fighters other than Figueiredo) takes on Kara-France, whom he defeated via unanimous decision at UFC 245.
Moreno, for his part, wouldn’t bite on attempts to get him to look past the fight at a Thursday press conference.
“I have too much respect for Kai. I don’t know nothing bout Deiveson Figueiredo,” Moreno said. “Let me win this fight this Saturday, and we can talk about it.”
–Field Level Media