The most anticipated women’s MMA rematch of all time as Julianna Pena defends her bantamweight title for the first time against Amanda Nunes at UFC 277 in the main event.
Pena completed one of the biggest upsets in the history of the sport last time out, and now she looks to prove it wasn’t a fluke by beating her again.
In the co-main event we also have an interim flyweight title fight as former champion Brandon Moreno takes on Kai Kara-France in a rematch of their own, with the winner setting themselves up to take on injured champion Deiveson Figueiredo once he’s healthy.
Last time out at UFC London we had great fun live at the event, and we had a decent night with our picks too. We went 9/14 with five perfect picks to move to 673/1046 (64.34%) with 289 perfect picks (42.94%). You can check out our full picks history here.
We’ll look to improve on that record here, starting with the early prelims.
Orion Cosce (7-1) vs Blood Diamond (3-1) – (Welterweight/170lbs)
Fun welterweight scrap to open up the card in this one. Cosce came into the UFC as an undefeated fighter after a win on Dana White’s Contender Series, but was KO’d by Phil Hawes in his debut in July 2021. Blood Diamond came into the UFC highly rated for his kickboxing career, but his debut didn’t go to plan when he got choked out by Jeremiah Wells at UFC 271.
Cosce is a solid striker who has great wrestling to back him up with relentless pressure and good cardio, although his submission skills aren’t the greatest. Diamond on the other hand is as pure a kickboxer as they come, with brilliant kicking technique and great power. But as a result of that, his ground game needs a lot of work and leaves him open to issues. Cosce will have watched Wells’ performance and know he can do the same thing.
Diamond’s kicking game will likely be neutralised by the takedown threat, and while he does have the advantage in the striking game by a distance Cosce will close the distance and shoot. If he gets him down then Diamond will struggle to get back to the feet, and expect Cosce to work for a choke or just bulldoze him into oblivion from top position until the referee steps in.
PICK – Orion Cosce via Knockout, Round 2
Nicolae Negumereanu (12-1) vs Ihor Potieria (19-2) – (Light Heavyweight/205lbs)
A banger at light heavyweight next between two guys on great runs. Negumereanu has won his last three in a row, KO’ing Ike Villanueva in the middle of two split decision wins over Aleksa Camur and Kennedy Nzechukwu. Potieria is on a 15-fight win streak stretching back to 2017 and gets his UFC shot after a win on Dana White’s Contender Series via a first-round knockout.
Negumereanu is a bit of a loose cannon, with big haymakers for strikes and decent wrestling and grappling too. Potieria is a complete wrecking machine who marches forward and looks to blast his opponents out of the cage, but he also has six submission wins in his career to show he’s skilled on the ground too. This is an interesting fight to try and predict.
On paper you’d go for the debutant. His record is excellent, he’s got power and grappling and he’s bigger. But his level of competition hasn’t been that great. Negumereanu on the other hand could easily have lost the two fights he won by decision in his last three. But stylistically this could suit Negumereanu. The wild exchanges will allow Negumereanu to step in for takedowns and even if he can’t get them, he can control Potieria against the cage. A KO could obviously occur at any moment, but I think Negumereanu’s experience and patience pays off here.
PICK – Nicolae Negumereanu via Decision
Joselyne Edwards (11-4) vs Ji Yeon Kim (9-5-2) – (Bantamweight/135lbs)
Fun women’s bantamweight scrap up next. Edwards snapped a two-fight losing streak last time out when she earned a decision win over Ramona Pasqual at UFC 275. Kim on the other hand is on a three-fight losing streak and has lost four of her last five, dropping decisions to Alexa Grasso, Molly McCann and Priscila Cachoeira.
Both of these women are volume strikers who can also hold their own on the ground if necessary, and usually make fights much harder than they actually need to. Kim has got a little bit more power in her hands and has held her own against top strikers before, but Edwards has got better movement and better technique.
It’s a case of who catches the judges’ eye more with strikes and with this fight being at bantamweight the bigger Edwards is likely to do that more regularly. Edwards will walk forward constantly, kick well and land good combinations to get the nod on the scorecards and likely end Kim’s UFC career for the time being.
PICK – Joselyne Edwards via Decision
Michael Morales (13-0) vs Adam Fugitt (8-2) – (Welterweight/170lbs)
Very one-sided scrap ends this portion of the card in what looks like a set up fight for the UFC. Morales is an undefeated 13-0 and KO’d Trevin Giles in his UFC debut at UFC 270 last time out, while Fugitt is on a four-fight win streak with all finishes and makes his UFC debut in this bout.
Morales is a super talented wrestler with incredible striking and power in his hands, earning 10 knockout wins in his career. Fugitt is a great wrestler whose biggest strength is his top control and ground and pound, but he’s not as good a wrestler as Morales and that means he needs to win this fight on the feet. The chances of that are about as high as Julianna Pena beating Amanda Nunes in the first fight between the two.
Fugitt has defensive lapses on the feet and has a tendency to shoot in with his chin high, which will leave a clean target for Morales to cave in. He’s got great speed and counters, and won’t be afraid of the takedowns because he’s comfortable there too. Expect a quick, statement finish from the undefeated prospect.
PICK – Michael Morales via Knockout, Round 1