On Saturday night, Julianna Pena gets her chance to prove that lightning can strike twice when she defends her women’s bantamweight championship against Amanda Nunes in the main event of UFC 277 from the American Airlines Center in Dallas.

Pena shocked the MMA world at UFC 269, submitting Nunes to win the championship. Prior to the loss, Nunes had established herself as the greatest fighter in the history of the sport, winning both the bantamweight and featherweight titles and crossing every woman to hold either of those championships. Despite coming into the fight with a 2-2 record in her previous four bouts, Pena was able to end Nunes’ run.

In the co-main event of UFC 277, Brandon Moreno looks to reclaim gold when the former flyweight champion takes on Kai Kara-France for the interim belt. The pair previously met in 2019 with Moreno picking up a decision win. Kara-France has gone on a 4-1 run, including a three-fight winning streak, since that fight.

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With so much going on Saturday night, let’s take a closer look at the full fight card with the latest odds from Caesars Sportsbook before we get to our staff’s predictions and picks for the PPV portion of the festivities.

UFC 277 fight card, odds

Odds via Caesars Sportsbook

  • Amanda Nunes -270 vs. Julianna Pena (c) +220, Women’s Bantamweight Championship
  • Brandon Moreno -210 vs. Kai Kara-France +175, interim flyweight championship
  • Sergei Pavlovich -140 vs. Derrick Lewis +120, heavyweight
  • Alexandre Pantoja -200 vs. Alex Perez +170, flyweight
  • Magomed Ankalaev -550 vs. Anthony Smith +400, light heavyweight
  • Matthew Semelsberger -155 vs. Alex Morono +130, welterweight
  • Drew Dober -170 vs. Rafael Alves +145, lightweight
  • Don’Tale Mayes -180 vs. Hamdy Abdelwahab +155, heavyweight
  • Drakkar Klose -220 vs. Rafa Garcia +180, lightweights
  • Michael Morales -650 vs. Adam Fugitt +475, welterweight
  • Joselyne Edwards -125 vs. Ji Yeon Kim +105, women’s flyweight
  • Nicolae Negumereanu -115 vs Ihor Potieria -105, light heavyweight
  • Orion Cosce -180 vs. Blood Diamond +155, welterweight

With such a massive main event, the CBS Sports team went ahead with predictions and picks for the main card. Here are your selectors: Brent Brookhouse (combat sports writer), Brian Campbell (combat sports writer, “Morning Kombat” co-host), Shakiel Mahjouri (writer), Michael Mormile (producer) and Brandon Wise (content writer). chief).

UFC 277 Picks, Predictions

Pena (c) vs. Nunes Nunes Nunes Nunes Nunes Nunes
Moreno vs. Kara-France Kara-France Moreno Moreno Moreno Moreno
Lewis vs. Pavlovich lewis lewis lewis lewis Pavlovich
Pantoja vs. Perez Pantoja Perez Pantoja Pantoja Pantoja
Smith vs. Ankalaev Ankalaev Ankalaev Ankalaev Ankalaev Ankalaev
Records to date (2022) 16-17 19-14 16-17 17-16 22-11

Pena vs. Nunes

Campbell: Is it fair to suggest that their first encounter at UFC 269 saw Pena deliver the greatest performance of his career while Nunes arguably gave his worst? In the end, it’s fair, even if it seems to undermine everything Pena did well that night to shock the world. We now know Pena’s stubborn tenacity and willingness to stay poised in extreme scenarios, which turned out to be a big part of how she won, as well as how she gassed Nunes on the pitch. . It’s hard to imagine the same scenario happening again, with lightning striking the same spot a second time. Nunes is still known as the goat of women’s MMA because of how she became a dangerous and nearly complete fighter thanks to an incredible 12-fight winning streak. Nunes will have to fight more from a distance and kept her balance in a way she couldn’t the first time around. One only has to look back at her five round victory over Valentina Shevchenko in their rematch to be reminded of what a chess player Nunes can be. If “The Lioness” can keep the fight from turning into chaos and keep it off the ground for large sections, she has the potential to win by walking away. But she has to bring Pena to her and make her pay for crossing the line.

Stream: Combat sports history is littered with great athletes meeting specific fighters who turn out to be their kryptonite, even if it just didn’t seem logical on paper. Vernon Forrest had Shane Mosley’s number even though Mosley was the best fighter historically. Likewise, Forrest lost to Ricardo Mayorga twice despite all the reasons suggesting Forrest should have won both fights. Is this the case of Pena and Nunes? It could be that Pena’s tenacity and ability to gas Nunes in the first fight indicates that Pena only has Nunes’ number. That said, it’s hard to side with the greatest fighter in women’s MMA history now that she’s had time to take in the information, train and adapt. Pena deserves all the credit for the win and all the respect for the rematch, but repeating is a big ask.

Moreno vs. Kara-France

Campbell: If his last three fights are any indication, Kara-France is a much more confident, dangerous and evolved threat than the version of him who lost a unanimous decision to Moreno in 2019. The New Zealand native has become more of a threat to finish lately, and that’s exactly what he did against Rogerio Boterin and Cody Garbrandt. But his decisive victory over Askar Askarov, which pushed Moreno to the limit in their draw three years ago, showed the full level of his maturity. Expect it to be a high-speed duel with Moreno looking to bounce back in a huge way after dropping the title to Deiveson Figueiredo in their third encounter. But Kara-France is just riding the kind of momentum that’s hard to cap. Kara-France will have to be precise about his combinations when he chooses to take risks, but the potential to force Moreno to guess and chase him is there.

Stream: This is a very difficult fight to call. Kara-France is an outstanding fighter who has gotten better performance after performance. It’s hard to ignore that Moreno largely did the same. He had three straight fights with Deiveson Figueiredo giving just as good as he got and arguably deserving the win in all three outings. Moreno’s pace and combination of clean strikes and offensive grapples make him such a dangerous fighter that he has the edge going into what should be an incredible fight.

Lewis vs. Pavlovich

Campbell: For as implosive as his recent knockout losses to Cyril Gane and Tai Tuivasa seemed to be, Lewis is too crafty to count just yet, especially against this level of competition. If Pavlovich, the slight betting favorite who has won three straight since being stopped by Alistair Overeem, is on his way to becoming one of the division’s elite, history will tell you that he will likely beat Lewis. But that’s still a huge if and Lewis’ power alone leaves him like the wrong guy to make a huge mistake against trying to make that leap. Lewis has rebounded tremendously from one-sided defeats in the past, including the whitewashing Daniel Cormier inflicted on him in their title fight in 2018. At 37, Lewis still has enough teeth left to survive and move on to the next big test.

Stream: Lewis seemed less and less active during fights, mostly looking to land a finishing blow. He has always relied on his power but everything seems to be slowing down in his game. That said, Lewis’ power is really important and he just has to land one. Pavlovich has looked good in three straight outings, but he’s looking to stand up and trade against lower level opponents. Chances are Lewis will get caught up in a fight again, but the level of opposition matters and until Pavlovich proves he’s capable of continuing his success against a better level of opponent it seems that you have to side with Lewis to do what he has. done so often and prevent someone from falling into the top 10.

Who wins UFC 277: Peña vs. Nunes 2? And what other choices do you need to see? Visit SportsLine now for detailed top picks on UFC Fight Night, all from the insider who has earned over $10,000 on MMA picks over the past two years, and find out.