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.”
Nunes is the -275 favorite at DraftKings, where she had been backed by 57 percent of the bets and 68 percent of the handle to beat Pena (+230) as of Saturday morning. The most popular winning method split bet was Nunes to win by KO, TKO or disqualification, drawing 44 percent of the total bets and action at +110.
Nunes has even shorter odds at -300 at BetMGM. However, Pena’s longshot odds at +230 had drawn 71 percent of the bets and 60 percent of the handle.
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.”
Moreno is the -210 favorite at DraftKings, where he had been backed by 60 percent of the bets and 57 percent of the handle as of Saturday morning.
The action has been split at BetMGM, with Moreno (-225) supported by 58 percent of the handle while Kara-France (+185) had been backed by 70 percent of the total bets.
–Field Level Media