UFC 277 delivered another night of spectacular action as the stars of the octagon entertained the fans in Dallas, Texas, then sounded off on the mic as they reacted to their handiwork inside the cage.
Leading the way was Amanda Nunes, who dominated Julianna Pena to recapture the UFC women’s bantamweight title with a one-sided beatdown of the woman who shocked the world by dethroning her at UFC 269.
Nunes was in no mood for a repeat in the rematch, however, and “The Lioness” was understandably jubilant as she reclaimed the title – and her “champ champ” status – with a decisive victory.
The co-main event saw a thrilling battle between former UFC flyweight champion Brandon Moreno and No. 2-ranked flyweight contender Kai Kara-France as they faced off for the interim 125-pound strap, and the chance to take on Deiveson Figueiredo when the Brazilian returns to action later this year.
It looked like Kara-France was starting to take charge of the bout when Moreno exploded into life and claimed victory to put himself on collision course with his old adversary Figueiredo once again.
Their upcoming title unification bout will be the fourth time they’ve met inside the octagon, but despite the Brazilian striding into the octagon after Moreno’s win, the Mexican opted to keep it classy as the pair teed up the latest instalment of their flyweight rivalry without the need for trash talk. After all, the fight sells itself.
The fans were on their feet for “The Black Beast” Derrick Lewis when he entered the octagon to take on hard-hitting Russian Sergei Pavlovich. But it was Pavlovich who ended up celebrating after he claimed a quickfire finish following an early blitz of strikes that put Lewis down on the canvas.
The stoppage may have been a tad early from referee Dan Miragliotta, but nothing was going to dampen Pavlovich’s pride and elation at claiming the biggest scalp of his UFC career to date.
While the interim title bout between Moreno and Kara-France was always going to determine the next challenger for Deiveson Figueiredo, one other flyweight had designs on gatecrashing that title picture.
Alexandre Pantoja did just that with a blistering display to defeat Alex Perez, then issued an impassioned callout as he proclaimed himself as the future champion of the 125-pound division.
While Pantoja was explosive on the mic, Russian light heavyweight contender Magomed Ankalaev is usually considered to be more reserved in his comments before and after his fights.
But, after continuing his rise up the 205-pound division with a finish of former title challenger Anthony Smith, Ankalaev’s post-fight interview showed a little frustration as he asked the UFC what more he needed to do to earn a crack at the undisputed light heavyweight title.
If Pantoja was the most explosive performer of the main card, Drew Dober was the undoubted star of the prelims.
Dober went toe to toe with Rafael Alves in a spectacular back-and-forth scrap that had the fans on their feet. Eventually, Dober hit the jackpot with a crushing body shot that folded up the Brazilian and gave the American the 25th win of his career.
He’s never in a boring fight, and his post-fight interview was typically Drew Dober, too, as he exuded the class we’ve consistently seen from him over the years.
While most of the star performers at UFC 277 were established names, one newcomer stood out. Egyptian wrestling Olympian Hamdy Abdelwahab showed a granite chin, a fighting heart and a willingness to stand and bang that won over the fans in Dallas.
Ultimately, though, it was his ability to take those qualities and mix them in with his world-class wrestling that earned him the victory as he earned a split-decision victory over Don’Tale Mayes in an entertaining heavyweight bout.
After his win, he showed his emotion, and his personality, in his post-fight interview with Joe Rogan.
The first bout on the TV prelims saw Drakkar Klose add another victory to his record, as he defeated Rafa Garcia to claim his seventh win under the UFC banner, then called for a bout with former interim UFC lightweight champion Tony Ferguson.