Bantamweight queen Julianna Pena makes her first title defense against Amanda Nunes at Saturday’s UFC 277, seven months after dethroning the longtime champ. Check out our Pena-Nunes picks ahead of the bill’s main event.
Pena was viewed as little more than a mandatory challenger for Nunes ahead of UFC 269 in December, but she left Las Vegas as a champion and the owner of arguably the greatest upset in the promotion’s history, if not the sport’s. More than seven months and a season of “The Ultimate Fighter” later, the champion will look to shock her foe as an underdog all over again in UFC 277’s headliner in Dallas.
Pena’s upset of Nunes marked her second straight win and her third in four fights since ending an 18-month hiatus in 2019, while the once-indomitable Nunes saw a seven-year, 12-fight unbeaten streak come to a grinding halt.
Will Pena thwart Nunes yet again, or will the ex-champ reclaim the bantamweight throne in a vintage, violent showing?
Pena vs. Nunes Fight Info
Date: Saturday, July 30, 10 p.m. ET (main card)
TV: PPV, ESPN+
Location: American Airlines Center, Dallas, TX
Pena vs. Nunes Odds Analysis
Pena’s historic tapout of Nunes wasn’t enough to make her the favorite ahead of Saturday’s rematch, as FanDuel Sportsbook and Caesars are offering the champ at +220, with DraftKings and PointsBet listing her at +225.
Those counting on Pena to repeat the feat will find a sixth career submission win at +650 with DraftKings.
As for Nunes, the ex-titleholder enters her first fight as a bantamweight challenger in six years as a -270 favorite with Caesars and a -265 favorite with DraftKings. If you’re banking on Nunes to cement herself as the world’s top bantamweight once again, a 14th career KO/TKO for the Brazilian is available at a compelling +144 with PointsBet.
Julianna Pena Betting Profile
Pena’s title aspirations suffered a tough setback when she fell to Valentina Shevchenko in early 2017, but since resuming her career in 2019 after becoming a mother, she’s gotten her hand raised at the expense of Nicco Montano, ex-contender Sara McMann, and, of course, Nunes.
A solid grinder and excellent top player, the champ has wrestled and grappled her way to a solid 7-2 UFC record. Though she stunned Nunes on the feet before snatching her neck for the tap last time out, Pena’s best path to another upset goes through the clinch, the mat, and a prolonged, ugly battle of attrition.
Amanda Nunes Betting Profile
The dust from UFC 269 has now settled, so let us remember that Nunes remains an all-time great and the most accomplished female fighter in the sport’s history. While many have pursued double-champ status only to later abandon at least one of their crowns, Nunes was successfully defending her bantamweight and featherweight thrones until she dearly paid for underestimating Pena.
With 13 knockouts in 21 pro wins, the former champ packs a scary wallop in her mitts and knows how to use her length, but she’s also proven adept at snatching necks and limbs on the mat. If you’re banking on the fighter with more ways to win, that advantage unquestionably lies with Nunes.
Pena vs. Nunes Picks
- Nunes (-265 via DraftKings) ★★★★
- Nunes by submission (+550 via Caesars) ★★★
Pena vs. Nunes Predictions
Just as Georges St-Pierre did following his shocking 2007 loss to Matt Serra, I expect Nunes to earn some sweet revenge on Saturday as emphatically as she fell to Pena in their first meeting. As much as we all love an upset, Nunes remains the superior striker and submission artist, and it’s worth noting she rebounded from her previous loss – a 2014 TKO courtesy of Cat Zingano – with a 12-fight win streak, a pair of reigns as world champion, and seven combined title defenses.
We can sift through statistics until the cows come home, but the fact is that true greats know how to bounce back from defeats, and there’s little to suggest Nunes won’t do the same.
Nunes by submission (+550)
I imagine Nunes will be looking to prove a point come fight night and treat Pena to the exact same fate she suffered their last time out. The ex-champ’s tapouts usually follow a knockdown or a hellacious combo, and if she pushes her advantages as she has in the past, it shouldn’t be long before a straight right or a head kick puts Pena on her hind parts, after which Nunes should slap on a choke to secure a tapout and reclaim her place as the world’s preeminent bantamweight.
Where to Bet on Pena vs. Nunes Picks
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Pena-Nunes picks made on 7/28/2022 at 11:02 p.m. ET.