UFC 277 Picks and Previews by BCDC Analyst

UFC 277: Pena vs. Nunes 2

July 30, 2022

Emrick’s UFC Fighter Pick Record (168-89) – 65% Correct

Early Prelim Predictions:

WW: Orion Cosce (7-1) vs. Mike “Blood Diamond” Mathetha (3-1)

  • Pick: Orion Cosce

LHW: Nicolae Negumereanu (12-1) vs. Ihor Potieria (19-2)

  • Pick: Nicolae Negumereanu

WFLY: Ji Yeon Kim (9-5-2) vs. Joselyne Edwards (11-4)

  • Pick: Ji Yeon Kim

WW: Adam Fugitt (8-2) vs. Michael Morales (13-0)

  • Pick: Michael Morales

Prelim Predictions:

LW: Drakkar Klose (12-2-1) vs. Rafa Garcia (14-2)

  • Pick: Drakkar Klose

HW: Don’Tale Mayes (9-4) vs. Hamdy Abdelwahab (5-0)

  • Pick: Don’Tale Mayes

LW: Drew Dober (24-11, 1 NC) vs. Rafael Alves (20-10)

  • Pick: Drew Dober

WW: Alex Morono (21-7, 1 NC) vs. Matthew Semelsberger (10-3)

  • Pick: Alex Morono

Via Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC

Main Card Predictions:

LHW: #4 Magomed Ankalaev (17-1) vs. #5 Anthony Smith (36-16)

  • Pick: Magomed Ankalaev (-550)
  • Quick Reasoning: While this line is a bit disrespectful to Smith’s climb back into title contention, Ankalaev is looking like the real deal and poses a more serious threat to the LHW crown. Ankalaev has the defensive abilities and is better-rounded on the floor to pluck holes into Smith’s game and break him down over the course of the fight. Smith’s pacing is worrisome in backing Ankalaev, as Magomed will be forced to push at a greater pace than in his last fight with Thiago Santos. Although I believe Smith is easily in the top ten of current LHW’s, I just think Ankalaev is better and can keep up with the pace in this three-round matchup. Take Ankalaev via UD, but be weary of playing him as a parlay piece. 

FLY: #4 Alexandre Pantoja (24-5) vs. #6 Alex Perez (24-6)

  • Pick: Alexandre Pantoja (-190)
  • Quick Reasoning: Yeah, Pantoja might just be that guy. Seemingly always in title contention, Pantoja has great wins over Brandon Moreno, Manel Kape, and Brandon Royval. He is also the only fighter besides Moreno to land a takedown on Askar Askarov in the UFC. A lot of the metrics between Pantoja and Perez are similar, except Perez is a little better in the takedown department. However, Pantoja has the better resume and has two victories since Perez’s last fight in November 2020. The long layoff is always of concern, but it should be even more concerning that Perez doesn’t have a single UFC victory against an opponent currently on the promotion’s roster. Pantoja has four victories against those still on the UFC’s roster, all against those who are now ranked. Where the metrics don’t tell the full story, it’s clear Pantoja has the resume and activity advantage, which should lead him to a finish victory in the first two rounds. Take Pantoja here. 

HW: #5 Derrick Lewis (26-9, 1 NC) vs. #11 Sergei Pavlovich (15-1)

  • Pick: Sergei Pavlovich (-130)
  • Quick Reasoning: Is Derrick Lewis a special human-being? Of course. Am I a Derrick Lewis hater after fat-muscling his way into victories over Volkov and Blaydes, as well as derailing the hype of Chris Daukaus? Oh, yes. And will I be fading Lewis against against an opponent who is seven years younger and boasts a five inch reach advantage? Most definitely. This is absolutely not a confident pick, as Pavlovich will be in some form of danger until the bell rings at the end of the third round or Lewis is slumped over on the floor. But, Pavlovich’s reach – that measures at a similar size to Ciryl Gane – should make Lewis’ power shots difficult to land as long as he plays smart defensively. Lewis 100% has the better resume and even offers up some surprisingly decent grappling when necessary, so I wouldn’t be shocked that the threat of his power would put him back as the betting favorite come fight night. Pavlovich can be a bit hittable at times, but so can Lewis. Without the age and reach advantages, I’d say this should easily be Lewis’ fight. But I need to side with Sergei to play it smart defensively, drain on Lewis’ gas tank, and prove he is destined for stardom in the HW division. I’ll be picking Pavlovich to get the win, but will probably sprinkle some money on whoever the underdog is Saturday evening. Take someone by KO. 

FLY: #1 Brandon Moreno (19-6-2) vs. #2 Kai Kara-France (24-9, 1 NC) II

  • Pick: Brandon Moreno (-210)
  • Quick Reasoning: Oh boy, another rematch. Apparently, this is just what the UFC needed. Honestly, I’m a lot happier with this instead of Moreno/Figgy IV, and it has a couple fan favorites. I’ve been a Moreno guy ever since he became the first Mexican-born champion. Seeing how much it meant to him and his heritage, as well as his love for Funkos was enough to get me on board. Moreno came out flat against Figgy in his last fight, getting knocked down multiple times and acting cocky from time to time throughout the bout whilst down. It was unlike Moreno, and not representative of the strong determination and focus that got him the belt to begin with. I believe that changes this weekend, as he returns to that mindset and pushes his pace against Kara-France well into the championship rounds. While Kai has great power for a flyweight and showed off his takedown defense against Askarov in his last fight, he will find some trouble keeping up with Moreno’s pacing if he’s unable to effectively land early on in the fight. Moreno hasn’t been finished yet in 27 professional MMA fights, and I don’t believe that day will be Saturday for the first finish loss. Although both are tremendous fighters, I believe the cardio of Moreno is the deciding factor in this five round fight. Give me Moreno by UD or submission. 

WBW: *Champion* Julianna Pena (12-4) vs. #1 Amanda Nunes (21-5) II

  • Pick: Amanda Nunes (-270)
  • Quick Reasoning: Nunes looked very good in the first round against Pena in the first go, but fell so flat in the second after chasing the finish on the biggest stage. It was an all-time upset, and quite literally one for the books after an ingenious amount of money was lost by parlay betters and other degenerates alike. I do think it’ll shape up different this time. For those who don’t know, Nunes left her gym at American Top Team to surround herself with more coaches that can give her the attention that one of the women’s MMA GOAT’s deserves. I believe this will renew her focus inside and out of the octagon to better react in fight or flight situations mid-fight. Pena has also looked great, putting on plenty of muscle and proving herself as an active fighter since late-2020. While Nunes didn’t look her best and has a lot more mileage towards her fighting age compared to Pena, I genuinely believe she’ll bounce back. Assuming Nunes does get the win, I’d be open to seeing this as a trilogy out of respect to Pena for being the first woman in eight years to defeat Nunes at this level. Expect a slower, potentially more technical, pace in this matchup that will either end in a 48-47 decision or a late finish. Pena has never been to the championship rounds, but I have a feeling it’ll get to that point this time around. Take Nunes, but – as always – proceed with caution. Nunes by TKO in the fourth. 

Emrick’s Combat Sports Betting:

  • Straight Bets:
    • Dawg of the Week (3-2): Ji Yeon Kim ML
      • 0.5u to win 0.525u
    • Orion Cosce ML
      • 1.5u to win 0.967u
    • Don’Tale Mayes ML
      • 1.5u to win 1.2u
  • Parlay Bets:
    • Brandon Moreno, Amanda Nunes ML’s
      • 0.5u to win 0.506u
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