Amanda Nunes cemented her GOAT status in women’s MMA with a bounceback victory over Julianna Pena at UFC 277 to reclaim the undisputed UFC women’s bantamweight title in Dallas, Texas.

When Pena dethroned Nunes and captured the UFC women’s bantamweight championship at UFC 269 last December, it was considered by many to be the biggest title fight shock in UFC history.

But in the rematch on Saturday night, Nunes exacted revenge with a tactical change that proved crucial as she dominated Pena over five rounds to reclaim the bantamweight crown.

To the surprise of everyone, including Pena, Nunes opened up in the southpaw stance and proceeded to fight almost the entire fight leading with her power hand, her right. It meant Pena was unable to read or time Nunes’ lead right hook as the Brazilian repeatedly connected and dropped the champion with a succession of heavy right hands during the opening rounds of the fight.

As the bout went into the middle rounds, Nunes took the fight to the mat, but found Pena to be a tricky opponent on the mat as she constantly threatened with triangle chokes and armbar attempts. One such attempt, mid-way through the fourth round, looked very close as the crowd rose in anticipation of another shock result. But Nunes managed to escape and resume the action from inside Pena’s guard, where she punished the champion with elbows that left Pena busted up and bleeding from the forehead.

Pena chased a succession of submissions early in the final round, but Nunes was wise to the situation on each occasion, then scored a big takedown in the middle of the cage and proceeded to hammer more elbows into the face of the champion before fighting off a Kimura attempt from Pena, who continued to pursue a fifth-round submission. Nunes then turned the tables and locked up a face crank, but Pena escaped before Nunes danced a jig of delight in the final seconds before the buzzer sounded to end their epic battle.

The identity of the winner wasn’t in doubt as the judges tallied their scores, with Pena looking crestfallen and Nunes celebrating. When the scorecards were read, they confirmed Nunes’ dominance, with the judges’ awarding the bout to the Brazilian with scores of 50-45, 50-44, 50-43.

BRANDON MORENO DEF. KAI KARA-FRANCE VIA TKO (BODY KICK AND PUNCHES) – ROUND 3, 4:34 (FOR INTERIM FLYWEIGHT TITLE)

Former undisputed flyweight champion Brandon Moreno recaptured UFC gold with a stunning third-round finish of Kai Kara-France in their interim title battle.

The pair met in the co-main event with the vacant flyweight step on the line, and despite Kara-France seemingly starting to take control of the bout in the third round, it was Moreno who got the finish as he folded up the Kiwi with a crushing body kick that send his opponent to the canvas.

A flurry of follow-up strikes was enough to force referee Herb Dean to step in and wave off the fight as Moreno claimed interim championship gold and booked himself into a fourth fight with Brazilian world champion Deiveson Figueiredo, who entered the cage to express his desire to face “The Assassin Baby” in Brazil later this year.

SERGEI PAVLOVICH DEF. DERRICK LEWIS VIA TKO (PUNCHES) – ROUND 1, 0:55

The eagerly-anticipated heavyweight clash between knockout artists Sergei Pavlovich and Derrick Lewis ended abruptly, and possibly prematurely, inside the bout’s opening minute.

After a brief feeling-out process, Pavlovich let fly with heavy punches and clipped Lewis hard. It forced “The Black Beast” to stagger backward, as the Russian continued his onslaught. Then, after Lewis was sent to the mat under the pressure of more heavy punches, referee Dan Miragliotta stepped in to spare Lewis further punishment.

However, the instant Miragliotta stepped in, Lewis leapt up, looking relatively unscathed. Pavlovich celebrated in the cage while the Dallas crowd showered the octagon with boos for what they saw as a premature stoppage.

It meant that Lewis’ last three defeats have all come in his home state of Texas, while Pavlovich picked up a big-name scalp to move him closer to the division’s top contenders.

ALEXANDRE PANTOJA DEF. ALEX PEREZ VIA SUBMISSION (FACE CRANK) – ROUND 1, 1:31

Alexandre Pantoja said pre-fight that he planned to make a statement against Alex Perez in their flyweight showcase bout, and boy did he deliver. Pantoja came flying out of his corner and took the fight to Perez from the very start, before taking Perez’s back and locking up a face crank to force the tap after just 91 seconds.

After his win, a very fired-up Pantoja declared himself the next champion at 125 pounds, as he vowed to capture the title and defend the belt, regardless of the challenges ahead.

MAGOMED ANKALAEV DEF. ANTHONY SMITH VIA TKO (STRIKES) – ROUND 2, 3:09

The main card opener between Magomed Ankalaev and Anthony Smith ended in somewhat of an anti-climax as Ankalaev claimed a TKO victory over former title challenger Smith.

Smith appeared to have sustained an injury to his ankle in the opening round against the Russian contender, and came out at the start of Round 2 and immediately shot for a takedown, then attempted to pull guard. After both attempts failed, a clearly compromised Smith was a sitting duck as Ankalaev unloaded strikes to force the finish.

In the immediate aftermath Smith appeared to suggest that he had broken his leg in the opening round, which explained his inability to escape Ankalaev’s fight-ending barrage. It was an unfortunate end to the fight, but added another victory to Ankalaev’s ever more impressive resume as he moved one step closer to a shot at the light heavyweight title.

ALEX MORONO DEF. MATTHEW SEMELSBERGER VIA UNANIMOUS DECISION (29-28, 29-28, 30-27)

The night’s featured preliminary card bout produced an entertaining welterweight battle as Alex “The Great White” Morono defeated Matthew “Semi The Jedi” Semelsberger over three tough rounds.

Morono looked the better man through most of the fight, with the notable exception of the start of the final round, when Semelsberger, sporting a swollen and almost completely closed left eye, came out in full berserker mode and flattened his man with a flying knee.

Remarkably, Morono managed to recover as Semelsberger looked to claim a finish on the mat, and even went on to outwork his opponent through the remainder of the round to earn scores of 29-28, 29-28, 30-27 for a unanimous decision win.

DREW DOBER DEF. RAFAEL ALVES VIA KNOCKOUT (BODY SHOT) – ROUND 3, 1:30

American lightweight Drew Dober claimed his seventh knockout win in the UFC with a brilliant third-round body-shot finish of Rafael Alves after a wildly entertaining preliminary card scrap with the Brazilian.

Both men enjoyed their successes on the feet as they traded strikes throughout a crowd-pleasing encounter. That excitement level rose after the action was paused for an accidental eye-poke on Alves, who fought like a man possessed when the action resumed.

But, despite being clipped with some huge shots by the Brazilian, Dober stayed composed and eventually found a fight-ending shot with a vicious shot to the body that folded up Alves for a walk-off body-shot KO.

HAMDY ABDELWAHAB DEF. DON’TALE MAYES VIA SPLIT DECISION (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)

The heavyweight clash between Hamdy Abdelwahab and Don’Tale Mayes delivered a thoroughly entertaining scrap that went all the way to the scorecards.

Abdelwahab ran out the winner on the scorecards, though one judge, Seth Fuller, bizarrely scored the final round to Mayes to prompt a split-decision verdict. But the bout was clearly Abdelwahab’s.

The Egyptian wrestling Olympian happily stood and traded with Mayes on the feet, but dominated on the mat with his wrestling as he claimed his fourth professional win on his octagon debut, and on just 12 days notice, too.

DRAKKAR KLOSE DEF. RAFA GARCIA VIA UNANIMOUS DECISION (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)

It was a close-run thing for Drakkar Klose, but he did enough to edge a back-and-forth battle with Rafa Garcia after they duelled all the way to the judges’ scorecards.

Garcia stunned Klose early with a solid counter left hook and landed a couple of well-timed takedowns, but it was Klose’s output and non-stop forward pressure that won over the judges to earn scores of 29-28 on all three scorecards.

After his victory, Klose called for a bout with former interim lightweight champion Tony Ferguson, saying the pair both hail from Michigan and he wanted to know who the “King of Michigan” really is.

MICHAEL MORALES DEF. ADAM FUGITT VIA TKO (PUNCHES) – ROUND 3, 1:09

He may have found debutant Adam Fugitt a trickier assignment than expected, but Michael Morales eventually found his range and claimed another impressive finish to extend his undefeated record to 14-0.

Fugitt used his wrestling smartly to nullify Morales early, but by the time the bout reached the third round, the Ecuadorian was in control, and let his strikes go to claim the back-to-back finishes in the UFC.

JOSELYNE EDWARDS DEF. JI YEON KIM VIA SPLIT DECISION (28-29, 29-28, 30-27)

She may have arrived on the scale a pound and a half over her contracted weight, but Joselyne Edwards’ short-notice assignment in Dallas ultimately proved successful with a hard-won split-decision victory over Ji Yeon Kim.

The pair battled back and forth in a well-contested bout that went all the way to the scorecards, where the judges were left split on the identity of the victor. The first judge scored the bout to Kim, but was overruled by the other two, who gave Edwards the nod with scores of 28-29, 29-28, 30-27.

NICOLAE NEGUMEREANU DEF. IHOR POTIERA VIA TKO (PUNCHES AND KNEES) – ROUND 2, 3:33

The light heavyweight bout between Nicolae Negumereanu and Ihor Potiera gave us our first finish of the night, with the Romanian claiming his fourth straight victory in the UFC via second-round TKO.

In a punishing salvo of strikes, Negumereanu battered Potiera with punches, and even sent his opponent’s gumshield flying, as he poured on the strikes until referee Kerry Hatley finally stepped in to end the bout at the 3:33 mark of Round 2.

ORION COSCE DEF. MIKE MATHETHA VIA UNANIMOUS DECISION (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)

The night got underway with a victory for Orion Cosce, who bounced back from a mishap on the scale to defeat “Blood Diamond” Mike Mathetha via unanimous decision.

Cosce missed weight by 1.5 pounds at Friday’s official weigh-ins, an error that cost him 20% of his fight purse. But he made sure he’ll leave Dallas with his win bonus intact as he outpointed Mathetha to earn scores of 29-28 on all three scorecards.

PRE-FIGHT

Another Saturday night, another big-time UFC event! This time it’s a pay-per-view offering from Dallas, Texas, with UFC 277 serving up a double-header of title fights.

Despite a couple of weight misses at Friday’s official weigh-ins, the 13-fight card has remained intact, with both title fights official. Now it’s fight night, it’s time for the fighters to step into the octagon and deliver, and for us to settle in for another packed night of fights.

We’ll keep you up to date throughout the night, so pull up your favourite armchair, crack open the frosty beverage of your choice, and follow the action with us here at Fighters Only.

UFC 277: Official Results

MAIN CARD

  • Amanda Nunes def. Julianna Pena via unanimous decision (50-45, 50-44, 50-43) – for women’s bantamweight title
  • Brandon Moreno def. Kai Kara-France via TKO (body kick and punches) – Round 3, 4:34 – for interim flyweight title
  • Sergei Pavlovich def. Derrick Lewis via TKO (strikes) – Round 1, 0:55
  • Alexandre Pantoja def. Alex Perez via submission (face crank) – Round 1, 1:31
  • Magomed Ankalaev def. Anthony Smith via TKO (strikes) – Round 2, 3:09

PRELIMINARY CARD

  • Alex Morono def. Matthew Semelsberger via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 30-27)
  • Drew Dober def. Rafael Alves via knockout (body shot) – Round 3, 1:30
  • Hamdy Abdelwahab def. Don’Tale Mayes via split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)
  • Drakkar Klose def. Rafa Garcia via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)

EARLY PRELIMS

  • Michael Morales def. Adam Fugitt via TKO (punches) – Round 3, 1:09
  • Joselyne Edwards def. Ji Yeon Kim via split decision (28-29, 29-28, 30-27)
  • Nicolae Negumereanu def. Ihor Potieria via TKO (knees and punches) – Round 2, 3:33
  • Orion Cosce def. Mike Mathetha via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)