Julianna Pena shocked the world when she choked out Amanda Nunes at UFC 269, can she repeat the dose here?
Amanda Nunes (21-5) vs Julianna Pena (15-5)
In what was viewed by many a lay down misere for the champion, Julianna Pena shocked the world at UFC 269, pulling off one of the biggest upsets in MMA history when choking out Amanda Nunes in the 2nd round.
Nunes has generally had one strategy when stepping inside the Octagon; load up and throw bombs from the outside. Due to her long reach and unworldly power, it has proved extremely effective over the years but through constant movement and a brutal jab, Pena managed to bring Nunes unstuck by gassing her out and pouncing when Nunes was deprived of proverbial petrol tickets.
Neither fighter has fought since and it will be interesting to see if we see a change of tactics from either Pena or Nunes. Pena has the cardio and grappling skills to outwork Nunes and as the same in the first fight, if she can avoid damage on the feet for the first 7 minutes of the bout, we may see history repeat itself.
Brandon Moreno (19-6-2) vs Kai Kara-France (24-9)
Kai Kara-France will carry the hopes of New Zealand on his shoulders on Sunday, as he looks to become the 4th Australasian Champion within the Octagon. Standing across from him will be the ultra durable Brandon Moreno, as they clash for the UFC Interim Flyweight title.
Moreno has gone 1-1-1 in his last three fights, all against Deiveson Figueiredo in arguably one of the biggest rivalries in MMA. He is a scrappy fighter who is extremely happy to stand in the middle of the Octagon and throw hands but this arguably brought him unstuck in his most recent fight, with Figueiredo showing patience and picking him apart on the feet.
Kara-France has shown remarkable improvement of late, especially in his two most recent fights. He knocked out former Bantamweight Champion Cody Garbrandt at UFC 269 and followed that up with a workman-like decision victory over Ask Askarov.
Although we are likely to see a war on the feet, both fighters are durable enough to withstand a heavy amount of damage and whatever the result, it looks likely to head to the judges scorecards.
Sergei Pavlovich (15-1) vs Derrick Lewis (17-7)
Derrick Lewis finds himself at a career crossroads here, having gone 1-2 in his last three fights. He was knocked out by both Ciryl Gane and Tai Tuivasa and desperately needs a win here to stay relevant in the UFC Heavyweight Championship picture.
Pavlovich was thrown to the wolves in his first fight for the UFC. Although possessing an undefeated record at the time, he found the kickboxing acumen of Alistair Overeem far too much and was knocked out inside of the first round. Since then, he has strung 3 KO victories together, spending only a combined 8 minutes inside the Octagon.
Pavolovich has a tendency to take up the centre of the Octagon, looking to get off first and put pressure on his opponents. This could play well into “The Black Beast’s” hands as he has shown a much more patient and reserved striking game in recent fights (seen in his KO of Curtis Blaydes). Lewis has the power to finish anyone in the 265lb division and with the right opening, he could find himself rising back up the Heavyweight rankings.