A planned welterweight bout set to kick off the UFC 277 preliminary card on Saturday had a wrench thrown in the works when one fighter missed weight. That would be Orion Cosce, who came in 1.5 pounds heavy for his fight with Mike Mathetha, better known as “Blood Diamond” — necessitating a catchweight.
The fight would move forward, with both Cosce and Blood Diamond — who had twice before been lined up for a fight — looking for their first UFC win.
It wouldn’t be an easy night for the winner.
Both fighters took the center of the octagon after a touch of gloves. A low kick from Blood Diamond opened the fight, followed by a high kick from Cosce. Blood Diamond landed a front kick and blocked a hook from Cosce. Cosce shot for a takedown, but Diamond stuffed it. Cosce put Diamond against the fence. About two minutes in, Diamond reversed Cosce. Cosce landed a trip takedown, but Diamond got back up. Cosce landed another takedown, but this time Cosce kept him down in side control. Less than a minute left, and Diamond got back to his feet. Cosce landed a belly-to-back suplex but didn’t do much with it. The round ended with the pair of fighters back in the center of the octagon.
A low kick from Blood Diamond started round two. Thirty seconds into the round, Blood Diamond landed a punch that caused Cosce to clinch. Cosce put Blood Diamond against the fence. After about 20 seconds, they reversed each other. Two minutes into the second, and Cosce landed an elbow from the clinch. Blood Diamond eventually broke away and landed a body kick. Both men looked pretty tired with two minutes left. Blood Diamond landed an elbow and a front kick that hurt Cosce. On the break, Diamond landed a spinning back fist that hurt Cosce as “Galaxy” landed a back fist in return. Cosce was wobbled, but Diamond got clinched. Blood Diamond landed a knee that hurt Cosce as well, and began to light up his opponent. Cosce survived by clinching with Diamond.
Round three started, and both fighters were sluggish. Cosce landed a jab, and Blood Diamond responded with one of his own. Cosce put Diamond against the fence again and then landed a takedown. Blood Diamond got back to his feet, but with three minutes left, Cosce jumped on Diamond’s back. They’d go back down. Cosce locked up an arm triangle, but Diamond defended. The rounded ended with Cosce controlling Blood Diamond completely.
UFC 277 takeaways: Amanda Nunes leaves no doubt who the GOAT is, Moreno-Figueiredo rivalry is on again
In a night where two fighters reclaimed championship gold and rising stars made their cases for title shots, what were the biggest moments at UFC 277? Jeff Wagenheim, Marc Raimondi and Brett Okamoto offer up their takeaways from a highlight-packed event in Dallas.
The world is once again steady on its axis, gravity has regained its pull, and oxygen has returned to the atmosphere. All is normal in the world. The previously declawed GOAT of women’s MMA is back to being The Greatest of Right Now.
Amanda Nunes battered and bloodied Julianna Peña for five brutally one-sided rounds on Saturday night to regain her women’s bantamweight championship in the main event of UFC 277 at American Airlines Center in Dallas. Thus Nunes, who also is a featherweight champ, is back to her status as a rare champion reigning simultaneously in two weight classes.
Nunes, who left American Top Team after her December loss to Peña and started her own gym, showed off a new wrinkle in her game and displayed her well-established Octagon smarts. Paired with her physical skills and toughness, Nunes’ poise and command inside the cage made her the best in the game.
The new look was Nunes fighting almost exclusively as a southpaw, and it successfully made Peña hesitant with her advances. That allowed Nunes to operate from a distance where she could hurt her opponent — which she did on several occasions, including three knockdowns in Round 2 — while not putting herself in unnecessary danger.
Nunes got into such a flow that after using Peña for target practice during several stretches, she switched things up by taking the fight to the canvas, where Nunes landed big elbows from top position to make Peña a bloody mess.
Peña kept fighting like the champion that she was. She continually attempted submissions, and she appeared to be close to locking something in on a few occasions. But Nunes defended well each time, and after every escape, she landed a punishing elbow or punch as payback. It was a virtuosic performance, gritty and graceful.
At age 34, Nunes still is a fearsome force. And after 26 pro fights, she still is motivated.
UFC 277: Orion Cosce Picks Up First UFC Win Over Blood Diamond
“I feel like I can grow even more,” Nunes said in the Octagon after the win.
Watch out, top 135-pound women. And you, too, 145-pounders.
Among Nunes’ accomplishments on this night, she did something few former UFC champions have. She was the 13th to lose a title and get an immediate rematch, and 10 have failed to regain the belt. Before Nunes climbed back on top of the world this weekend, only Deiveson Figueiredo and Randy Couture had seen that success.
“Making history again!” Nunes said afterward. “Double champ again, baby. Let’s go!” — Jeff Wagenheim