UFC 276 PREVIEW
UFC 277 takes place this weekend at the American Airlines Center in downtown Dallas, Texas and has the look of a card that could turn out to be the UFC’s best event of the year.
This is the sixth UFC pay-per-view that the arena has held, and it has seen some spectacular nights of action.
UFC 103, way back in September 2009, was the UFC’s first visit to the arena and remains one of the best UFC cards of all time, with spectacular KO after spectacular KO. UFC 171, UFC 185, UFC 211 and UFC 228 have also taken placed at the American Airlines Center and each of them have been strong cards with some truly outstanding fights. Dana White and his paymasters will be hoping for another strong showing this weekend.
There’s a strong preliminary card but it’s the main card where things really start to get exciting.
The first main card fight of the night will be a Light Heavyweight contest between Anthony Smith and Magomed Ankalaev in a fight that should position the winner as next in line for a shot at the title currently held by Jiri Prochazka. Smith is ranked number five in the UFC’s official rankings and comes into the fight riding a three fight win streak. He challenged Jon Jones for the 205lb title back in 2019, losing by unanimous decision, and looked set to slide out of contention following back to back losses against Glover Teixeira and Aleksandar Rakic but has battled his way back into the mix. Defeat here might signal the end of his days as a title contender, pushing him into something of a gatekeeper role for the division but a victory of Ankalaev likely springboards him right to the top of the list of contenders for the title.
Ankalaev falls into the category of fighters that nobody wants to get matched up with. He falls into the same category as Islam Makhachev, Khamzat Chimaev, Umar Nurmagomedov and former UFC Lightweight Champion Khabib Nurmagomedov, all of whom hail from Southern Russia like Ankalaev, in being a relentless front-foot wrestlers who smother their opponents and have granite chins. They’re no fun to fight, and take pleasure in enforcing their will upon their opponents. Ankalaev has won eight fights in a row after Paul Craig inflicted his first career defeat in his UFC debut fight. Those eight wins have come against increasing more difficult opponents and displayed the wide ranging skillset that the Dagestani fighter has at his disposal. He comes into this fight as the favourite but it will be yet another good test for him.
Next up is the return of Alex Perez, after a near two year absence, to take on Alexandre Pantoja in a Flyweight contest. Perez has not fought since losing a UFC Flyweight title fight to Deiveson Figueiredo due to a combination of injuries and missing weight when he was scheduled to fight Matt Schnell in February. Perez hurt his stock by missing weight twice for fights with Schnell, both of which had to be cancelled, and a defeat on Saturday might see Dana White take the decision to banish him from the UFC.
Pantoja has also suffered defeat at the hands of Figueiredo, but he did make weight for his fight with Matt Schnell and won in devastating fashion. Pantoja has won back to back fights to put himself back among the contenders for a title shot and a win on Saturday will certainly put him central to any conversations about future title shots.
Next up is a heavyweight fight that is almost certain to end with someone taking a nap. Derrick Lewis and Sergei Pavlovich have a combined 41 wins between them, 33 of them have come by knockout. They have a combined 10 losses, and seven of them came by knockout. Pavlovich is 16-1 in his career and has done really well to bounce back after being knocked out by Alisdair Overeem in his UFC debut. Three straight KO wins have earned him a fight against perennial top contender Lewis and this fight will represent a big test of his striking ability, and his ability to take a punch.
Lewis remains one of the UFC’s most feared KO artists and remains one of only two men to defeat current Heavyweight Champion Francis Ngannou in the UFC. He has suffered two KO defeats in his last three fights but Derrick Lewis is the type of fighter the UFC will always keep around because he always aims to finish fights. In his eight years, and 24 fights, in the organisation Lewis has only ever had four fights go to the judges. He holds the record for the most KO’s in company history with 13.
If this fight goes the distance, it would be the most shocking MMA outcome of the year.
In the co-main event of the evening there is an Interim UFC Flyweight title on the line. Current Champion Deiveson Figueiredo is currently ruled out after multiple surgeries on his hands, so the man he faced in his last three fights, Brandon Moreno, gets an opportunity to fight for an interim title while the Champion heals up. Those three fights ended in a draw, a submission victory for Moreno to earn him his first UFC title, and then unanimous decision win for Figueiredo to make him a two time Champion. The first and third fights were absolutely phenomenal battles, while the second was an incredibly dominant win for Moreno. Moreno has all the talent in the world, but seems to lack focus.
Moreno signed with the UFC in 2016 and rattled off three straight wins, before disappointing back to back defeats against Sergio Pettis and Alexandre Pantoja saw him cut from the company. He was brought back a year later and showed immediate improved to make a run that culminated in his title victory but needs to continue to show the incredible grappling ability he displayed in the second title fight and not get fixated on striking battles. One of his wins after returning was against this Saturday’s opponent, Kai Kara-France.
Kara-France is a kickboxer from New Zealand who holds a record of 24-9-1 and is every bit as inconsistent as his record suggests. His career is littered with defeats against fighters he was clearly more talented than but who executed their game plans better than the Kiwi. He can be absolutely spectacular when everything clicks for him, but high level grapplers have tended to be his kryptonite. If the fight stays standing, he has a great chance of victory but if Moreno enforces his will and takes the fight to the ground where he has the big advantage then it figures to be a long night for Kara-France.
And then, in the MAIN EVENT OF THE EVENING, five rounds in the Bantamweight division for the UFC Women’s Bantamweight title. Introducing first, fighting out of Coral Springs, Florida, by way of Pojuca, Brazil is the former UFC Women’s Bantamweight Champion, the reigning UFC Women’s Featherweight Champion, and arguably the greatest fighter in the history of Women’s MMA, Amanda “Lioness” Nunes.
Nunes is seeking revenge and wants her property back. She held the Bantamweight title from July 2016 until December of 2021. She made five successful defenses of the title she won by destroying Miesha Tate at UFC 200, while also finding time to demolish Cris Cyborg for the Featherweight title and make two defenses of that belt. I said arguably the greatest, but there is no argument. Amanda Nunes is the greatest fighter that Women’s MMA has ever seen, and it isn’t particularly close. She’s beaten a who’s who of the best to ever do it. Germaine de Randamie twice, current UFC Flyweight Champion Valentina Shevchenko twice, Tate, Cyborg, Holly Holm and Ronda Rousey. It was an unprecedented run of success that seemed to come out of nowhere.
Nunes was 9-4 in her career and had just been KO’d by Cat Zingano, before she ripped off her incredible 12 fight win streak. She looked unbeatable. Until December 2021.
In December 2021 she took on the then 10-4 Julianna Pena who was just 14 months removed from losing to two-time Nunes victim de Randamie, and was expected to be a routine title defense for Nunes. Nobody gave the 32 year old much of a chance. Pena had earned her way into the UFC by winning The Ultimate Fighter and was considered mostly a mid-card fighter who was just a step below the top fighters. The first round played out as everyone expected, Nunes dominated the challenger and looked certain to finish the fight.
Whether Nunes got tired, or simply sloppy, everything changed in the second round. Pena found an extra gear that Nunes wasn’t expected and would go on to submit the Champion and earn herself the title of New UFC Women’s Bantamweight Champion of the World. It was the upset of the year. Maybe the biggest upset in UFC history. And this weekend she has to prove that it wasn’t a fluke. Nunes will once again be a heavy betting favourite, but Pena showed in the first fight that she can’t be overlooked.
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How to watch UFC 277 from anywhere…
The main card is due to begin at 10pm local time (3am BST). Nunes and Pena are expected to appear for their cagewalks at approximately 1am local time (6am BST) – meaning it will be a very early morning for any UK fans.
As ever, BT Sport will broadcast the coverage of a UFC event for UK audiences. As a result, you will need a BT Sport subscription in order to catch the action.
UFC 277 will be streamed live on BT Sport as well as their respective apps for iPhone, iPad, Android, Smart TV, Now TV, FireTV etc.
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How can I watch UFC 277 live?
BT Sport 1 will show the live broadcast of UFC – beginning with the UFC 277 prelims at 1am before coverage of the main card begins at 3am.
BT Sport typically show football games in the weekly Saturday lunchtime slot but they do show additional matches. You can sign up for a BT Sport subscription or pick up a contract-free BT Sport monthly pass for £25.
BT Sport will also carry coverage of the UEFA Champions’ League and Europa League until 2024. Subscribers can watch BT Sport on their computers as well as their various apps on connected devices. They do offer a Monthly Pass with no contract, which will give customers access to the BT Sport mobile app.
Remember that BT Sport also features coverage from the Ligue 1 for Messi at PSG, and holds rights to Moto GP, UFC and WWE coverage as well. After a long delay the BT Sport app is now available on several models of Smart TV as well as Roku and Amazon Fire TV devices.
Furthermore; BT Sport isn’t the only geographically-censored streaming services a VPN or Proxy will allow you to access. Other UK services like Sky Sports, Amazon Prime, BBC iPlayer, ITV Hub, All 4 and BritBox are available. Plus with the option to switch to our USA service whenever you like, you can access Hulu, HBO GO, Netflix and Pandora. Essentially you can access international content from virtually anywhere!