With Amanda Nunes reclaiming her bantamweight crown and Brandon Moreno cementing his flyweight title credentials, we’re looking back at UFC 277.
Julianna Pena beating the GWOAT at UFC 269 was one of the all-time great upsets. The odds were much closer this time around, with Nunes still favourite, but we ultimately saw the fight many of us expected in December.
Nunes’s striking was incredible, and while Pena did make mistakes, often rushing in, waiting to be countered, the Lioness showed the precision and power which has seen her claim UFC titles at two weights.
But Pena deserves enormous credit. She took the shots that stopped the likes of Cris Cyborg and Ronda Rousey, both inside the first minute, and while she hit the canvas multiple times, she rose on every occasion.
Nunes was smart enough to keep the fight standing and not get into the grappling exchange that saw her lose her title the first time around. She kept Pena at a safer distance and showed her class, though did experience a scare when Pena looked to secure an armbar.
It was a reminder of Pena’s danger, and despite the enormous gash opened on Pena’s forehead, and Nunes’s dominance throughout the fight, a trilogy fight is well worth making.
With Demetrious Johnson wiping out the division, leaving a lack of competitive opponents, interest in the flyweight division waned. ‘Mighty Mouse’ failed to headline a pay-per-view card in his last five fights, with one of his title defences not even making it to pay-per-view.
But since being dethroned by Henro Cejudo, who subsequently retired, the division has come back to life.
Deiveson Figueiredo has established himself as one of the top pound-for-pound fighters in the world, with Brandon Moreno claiming a win and a draw against him, setting up the UFC’s first ever quadrilogy fight.
Kai Kara France looked to establish his title credentials with a win over the former champion in an interim title fight, which he did to an extent.
The New Zealander's wins over Rogerio Bontorin, Cody Garbrandt and Askar Askarov set up the fight with the former champion, and Kara France certainly had his moments.
An excellent fighter and a top class striker, Kara France was simply victim to the most vicious of kicks to the liver.
While Moreno will look to reclaim the title from Figueiredo, Kara France will hope to make himself next in line.
Yes, people will claim the stoppage was early, which it perhaps was, but Pavlovich landed some big shots on Derrick Lewis, and even if he did manage to regain his composure, there was nothing to say he’d have even seen out the round let alone the fight.
There’ll be clamber for a rematch in some corners due to the nature of the stoppage, but Pavlovich has extended his record to 16-1, is on a four-fight win streak, and deserves his place in the top five.
The picture in the heavyweight division isn’t overly clear right now. Francis Ngannou hasn’t fought since January and may look to fight Jon Jones at some point. Tai Tuivasa made a big leap up the rankings with his win over Lewis, Stipe Miocic hasn’t fought since his defeat to Ngannou over a year ago, Tom Aspinall needs to recover from the injury sustained against Curtis Blaydes.
It’s all very up in the air, and while none of the top five stand out as obvious opponents, a fight with fellow Russian Alexander Volkov may be the one to make.