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 and after starting with the early prelims, we move on to the rest of the prelims.
Drakkar Klose (12-2) vs Rafa Garcia (14-2) – (Lightweight/155lbs)
One of the best fights on the card is buried in the prelims here with this one. Klose finally returned after a two-year absence to defeat Brandon Jenkins in his last bout, while Garcia comes into this on a two-fight win streak beating Natan Levy and Jesse Ronson in his last two.
Klose is a solid striker with great power and good wrestling skills, but defensively he is known to be caused trouble by active grapplers. Garcia is exactly that, with good takedowns and jiu-jitsu but he’s also talented on the feet too and can hold his own in that field. Klose was supposed to be fighting Diego Ferreira in this one, and that probably bodes well for him.
Garcia is an excellent fighter with legit skills, but Ferreira does everything he does better. Klose will know that and will have been preparing for that type of fight, so he will find confidence in that. He’s got the power to earn a KO, but more likely is that he defends the takedowns and just picks Garcia off on the feet from range to earn a win on the scorecards.
PICK – Drakkar Klose via Decision
Don’Tale Mayes (9-4) vs Hamdy Abdelwahab (5-0) – (Heavyweight/220-265lbs)
Big boys take the stage next in this short-notice heavyweight scrap. Mayes has won his last two earning a decision over Roque Martinez before KO’ing Josh Parisian last time out. Abdelwahab makes his UFC debut as an unbeaten prospect, with all four of his knockout wins coming in 33 seconds or less.
Mayes stands at 6ft 6 and has got solid striking power in his hands, with good leg kicks and decent wrestling. Abdelwahab is a super powerful puncher, but his background comes in wrestling where he competed in the Olympics for Egypt back in 2016. Despite that though, his top game is relatively weak in comparison and his striking is super limited outside of power. Mayes has plenty of experience and should look to use that.
He must avoid the early power strikes, before Abdelwahab looks to start wrestling. If he does get taken down, he needs to find a way to be able to get back up quickly because once we get into the latter rounds he’ll start fading. Mayes should be able to use his more varied game and experience to claim a late win, but his reaction to being taken down is entirely important. Ultimately though, experience gets him the win.
PICK – Don’Tale Mayes via Decision
Drew Dober (24-11) vs Rafael Alves (20-10) – (Lightweight/155lbs)
Another super fun lightweight scrap up next between two guys sitting outside of the rankings. Dober bounced back from two straight losses with a big KO win over Terrence McKinney last time out, while Alves has won six of his last seven including a first-round submission win over Mark Diakiese at UFC Vegas 42 last time out.
Dober is a brilliantly technical striker with good wrestling skills and superman-like durability. Alves meanwhile is a wild man, with great striking power and unbelievable submission skills but the inbetweens are few and far between. His striking techniques aren’t great despite the power, and his wrestling game is severely lacking to bring his submissions into play. With that said though, he only needs one error to be able to capitalise and end the fight in an instant.
Unfortunately for him though, Dober is good enough to be able to not make those errors. On the feet he is far more technical and he also has decent power himself, while his wrestling is more than good enough to keep the fight standing. Alves must hope for an error to jump on, but I don’t think it comes and Dober could land enough strikes in those exchanges to earn a finish somewhere in the middle round.
PICK – Drew Dober via Knockout, Round 2
Alex Morono (21-7) vs Matthew Semelsberger (10-3) – (Welterweight/170lbs)
Two powerhouses at 170-pounds get the featured prelim slot for this card. Morono has won three in a row, KO’ing Donald Cerrone at UFC Vegas 10, before decisions over David Zawada and Mickey Gall most recently. Semelsberger has won his last two, sleeping Martin Sano at UFC 266 in 15 seconds before a decision win over AJ Fletcher most recently.
Morono is an interesting fighter with great power in his hands and excellent jiu-jitsu skills, but it all gets bundled together wildly rather than technically. Semelsberger meanwhile is a terrific boxer with plenty of power, while his defensive wrestling skills have been proven in his recent fights. Both guys love a war and both guys will feel they can put the other out with one punch, so it should be entertaining for as long as it lasts.
But with that said, Semelsberger has a much clearer path to victory. He’s the more powerful of the two and his more technical striking should allow him to come out on top in those exchanges. Add his defensive wrestling meaning Morono will struggle to get his grappling into play, and I expect Semelsberger to be able to counter one of Morono’s wild swings to crack him clean and put this one to an end early.
PICK – Matthew Semelsberger via Knockout, Round 1