5 Fights We Need to See After UFC 277

Tom Taylor@@TomTayMMAContributor IAugust 1, 2022

5 Fights We Need to See After UFC 277

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    Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC

    UFC 277 went down on Saturday night in Dallas, and the card opened the door to a host of exciting matchup options in some of the promotion's most interesting divisions.

    In the event's headlining attraction, Amanda Nunes avenged a shocking 2021 loss to Julianna Pena with a unanimous-decision win, reclaiming the women's bantamweight title in the process. Co-headlining honors, meanwhile, went to an interim flyweight title fight between Mexico's Brandon Moreno and New Zealand's Kai Kara-France. Moreno, who previously held the division's undisputed strap, ultimately won the fight by third-round TKO.

    Other highlights of the card included impressive victories from light heavyweight contender Magomed Ankalaev and flyweight contender Alexandre Pantoja, who finished Anthony Smith and Alex Perez, respectively, on the pay-per-view broadcast. Russian heavyweight Sergei Pavlovich also picked up a huge win on the main card, stopping prolific knockout artist Derrick Lewis inside a round.

    After the event, all of these fighters have some very interesting options on the menu. Keep scrolling for the fights we're hoping to see when everyone is healed up.

Amanda Nunes vs. Valentina Shevchenko

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    After reclaiming the women's bantamweight title in the UFC 277 main event, Amanda Nunes really has two options for her next fight: defend her bantamweight title against one of several uninspiring contenders, or defend it in a trilogy fight with reigning flyweight queen Valentina Shevchenko, whom she holds two razor-close decision wins over.

    Let's do the trilogy.

    Both Nunes and Shevchenko have other choices. Nunes could fight fellow Brazilian Ketlen Vieira, while Shevchenko could choose from a growing list of new contenders like Alexa Grasso, Manon Fiorot and Casey O'Neill. But the two champions are both 34 years old and looking more beatable than ever before. Nunes lost to Pena less than a year ago, and Shevchenko just barely retained her title with a split-decision win over Taila Santos in her last fight.

    If we're going to do a third fight between these two incredible champions, now is the time. If we wait too much longer, we might miss the chance.

Brandon Moreno vs. Deiveson Figueiredo 4

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    No fight feels more crucial after UFC 277 than a fourth showdown between Brandon Moreno and Deiveson Figueiredo.

    Moreno claimed the interim flyweight title with a third-round stop of Kai Kara-France in the card's co-headlining attraction. Figueiredo, meanwhile, holds the division's undisputed title and seems ready to unify the championship by year's end.

    Whenever the fight ends up happening, it will mark the fourth chapter in one of the most legendary rivalries in UFC history. The pair's first fight, in December of 2020, ended with a draw, which counted as a title defense for Figueiredo. Moreno then swiped the title with a submission in their immediate rematch in 2021, only to surrender it via decision when they fought for a third time earlier this year.

    All three of their first fights were incredible. Their fourth could be the best yet. If their epic in-cage faceoff at UFC 277 was any indication, they are both eager to put a stamp on the rivalry once and for all.

Sergei Pavlovich vs. Curtis Blaydes

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    Sergei Pavlovich picked up the biggest win of his career on the UFC 277 main card, thumping longtime heavyweight contender Derrick Lewis to a first-round TKO win. Some people are calling it an early stoppage because Lewis got to his feet pretty quickly after the action was halted, but he face-planted on the canvas before that, so what else was referee Dan Miragliotta supposed to do? The man can't see the future. When somebody eats the mat, it's fair to assume they're out.

    One way or the other, Pavlovich is now a legitimate heavyweight title contender and is probably just a win or two away from a crack at the belt.

    When he's ready to get back in there, he should be matched up with fellow contender Curtis Blaydes.

    Blaydes was last in action in London earlier this month, returning home with a disappointing TKO win after his foe, Tom Aspinall, suffered a leg injury just 15 seconds into their bout. After that win, he called for a matchup with the winner of an upcoming fight with Ciryl Gane and Tai Tuivasa. That definitely makes sense, but why not match him up with Pavlovich, who is on a similar schedule and free of other obligations?

    It's a great matchup on paper, and the winner would have as clear a claim as anybody to a title shot.

Alexandre Pantoja vs. Moreno-Figueiredo Winner

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    Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC

    It's arguable that nobody was more impressive at UFC 277 than Brazilian flyweight contender Alexandre Pantoja, who dominated Alex Perez to a submission win in less than two minutes on the main card.

    It was his third win in a row after triumphs over Manel Kape and Brandon Royval, and it affirmed him as the clear-cut No. 1 contender at flyweight.

    Unfortunately, he's going to have to wait for Moreno and Figueiredo to settle their score. That fight clearly needs to be made first.

    Pantoja could certainly take another fight in the interim, but it seems like a bad idea for him to risk what seems like a guaranteed title shot, particularly given that he has fallen just short of fighting for gold several times in the past.

    Now's the time for him to bide his time and wait for the opportunity he's earned. Unless Moreno and Figueiredo's fourth fight ends in a draw—which honestly wouldn't be that shocking—it seems like a matter of patience.

Magomed Ankalaev vs. Jiri Prochazka

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    Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC

    Until UFC 277, it seemed like either Jan Blachowicz or Glover Teixeira would get the first crack at newly minted light heavyweight champion Jiri Prochazka.

    Let's rethink that.

    Blachowicz is one win removed from a lopsided submission loss to Teixeira, and the win itself wasn't even that impressive as his opponent, Aleksandar Rakic, was forced out of action with a leg injury. Teixeira, meanwhile, hasn't fought since he lost the title to Jiri Prochazka via submission earlier this year.

    Despite their accolades as former champs, neither guy really has much of a claim to a title shot right now, and it's not like there aren't other options.

    Dagestan's Magomed Ankalaev, for example, is now on a nine-fight unbeaten streak, including a vicious TKO win over Anthony Smith on the UFC 277 main card. That's the kind of run that warrants a title shot.

    So give him the first crack at Prochazka, and have Blachowicz and Teixeira really earn the opportunity to reclaim the title.

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