UFC Tips: Your belting best bet for UFC 277 in Dallas, Texas

Paddy trader Sean Taylor delivers his knockout punt for Saturday night's action.

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*All prices are bang up to date with our snazzy widgets, while odds in copy are accurate at time of publishing but subject to change

UFC 277 rolls back into Texas this weekend and while it’s not the most noteworthy card in terms of name value, there certainly is some to be found.

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Sunday 4.20am: Derrick Lewis v Sergei Pavlovich – Lewis by KO/TKO

This is a pretty simple one. You’re getting plus money about a KO victory for the man who holds the record for most UFC knockouts. Derrick Lewis is one of the hardest hitting heavyweights MMA has ever seen. You can generally rely on him to beat who he’s expected to beat and lose where expected to lose. His losses have mostly come at the hands of the top of the heavyweight chain; Ciryl Gane and Daniel Cormier to name but a couple.

He’s been in there with a much higher level of competition than Sergei Pavlovich over a longer period. Pavlovich was handed a rough UFC debut in 2018 in the form of Alistair Overeem, ending in a R1 loss for the Russian. Since then, his level of opposition has been much more manageable and that is reflected in his three-fight win streak, all of those ending in the first stanza.

Given the level of opposition Pavlovich has beaten in the UFC I don’t fully understand him being a slight favourite here. To me, that would be predicated on him being an elite UFC heavyweight, of which I’m not sure he is. He may well turn out to be, but I don’t like betting on unknowns at short prices, so the current price doesn’t appeal much. Rather than backing the Lewis moneyline, I think dipping into the method of victory makes sense here given how closely Lewis’ win upside is tied to him knocking Pavlovich out.

Were this to go the distance it’s heavily weighted towards a sloppy heavyweight fight that’s a nightmare to score, leaving you at the mercy of the judges. Of course, this is heavyweight MMA, the most volatile division in MMA and anything can happen. However, given everything we know about both, and for the reasons outlined, Lewis by KO/TKO is the side here.

Sergei Pavlovich

Sunday 5.15am: Amanda Nunes v Julianna Pena

I always find immediate rematches in MMA tricky to bet. It’s of no correlation to a single fight but the loser of the first fight does not have a good record, particularly in title fights. Until Deiveson Figueiredo at UFC 20, no defeated UFC champion had successfully reclaimed their belt in an immediate rematch in 17-and-half years. Whilst this has no correlation to any singular fight, it does point to how difficult it is to make the relevant adjustments in a relatively short period of time. Whilst getting ready for this preview I felt as though Pena would be a bet.

However, what often happens is that after I’ve researched and taped a fight, I’ve talked myself out of a bet. I’d be lying if I said I was anyway keen on her prospects in their first fight. I thought, and still do, that Amanda Nunes is the better fighter of the two. Julianna Pena is very flat footed and while this is an asset when she can work on the inside, it’s an issue that leaves her very open when fighting at range.

We saw that play out in the first round last time out. Things took a sharp turn for the worst in the second round for Nunes where Pena found herself landing a rudimentary jab at will. I can only hypothesize but Nunes did appear to think she would be able to have her way with Pena following that first round and seemed shocked when Pena was able to land and take her down.

Whilst I think Pena is the side here if you are having a bet, I do think Nunes is the better fighter with a sizeable strength and skill advantage. However, there are some concerns around Nunes that make her wholly unappealing as a betting prospect. In the first fight, Pena did show that if you can wade through the early storm, then opportunities can present themselves. Nunes found herself swinging wild, looping shots in that second round and Pena was able to counter these with some basic boxing skills.

I do think Nunes has multiple paths to victory here whereas Pena’s most likely path looks very similar to what we saw in the first fight. If Nunes is disciplined, then I can see scenarios where she finds the knockout or keeps the fight range at and wins a comfortable decision. Following the loss, Nunes has since parted ways with American Top Team and set up her own facility.

I personally place a lot of stock in a fighter’s coaching team so it’s hard to know what effect this change will have, but it’s an unknown that makes her short price even less appealing. If you’re looking for a bet on the fight, it’s dog or pass however I’m not in a rush to have a bet here.

UFC 277 tips

Derrick Lewis v Sergei Pavlovich – Lewis by KO/TKO

*All prices are bang up to date with our snazzy widgets, while odds in copy are accurate at time of publishing but subject to change

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