Julianna Peña says she has enjoyed every minute of her run as a champion, and she intends to make it a long one. The confident bantamweight title holder can take a step toward cementing her star status Saturday when she takes on a rematch with former champion Amanda Nunes in the main event of UFC 277. Their fight closes the curtain on the pay-per-view main UFC 277 fight card (10 p.m.) from the American Airlines Center in Dallas. Last September, Peña authored one of the biggest upsets in UFC title-fight history when she stopped Nunes in the second round. Peña eagerly accepted the rematch and believes another win will solidify her status as the new dominant champion in the women's game.
Caesars Sportsbook lists Nunes as a -300 favorite (risk $300 to win $100), while Peña comes back at +250 in the latest UFC 277: Peña vs. Nunes 2 odds. In the co-main event, former flyweight champion Brandon Moreno (-200) faces Kai Kara-France (+175) for the interim belt. Before settling any UFC 277: Peña vs. Nunes 2 picks, make sure you check out the MMA predictions and betting advice from SportsLine expert Andrew Gombas.
Gombas is a former NCAA wrestler who taps into his experience on the mat to dissect the X's and O's of MMA matchups in a manner that sets him apart from other MMA analysts. He started the MMA handicapping service MMA Knockout Bets in 2018 and has shown a profit every year since.
With more than 1,400 selections tracked by the third-party monitoring service Bet MMA, he has shown a 6 percent return on investment for his followers. Over the past two years, his followers have netted a profit of more than $10,000.
At UFC 275 in June, Gombas swept the board with his main-card picks, and the five-fight sweep included telling SportsLine members to back Jake Matthews (+125) against Andre Fialho (-145) in a matchup of welterweight prospects. Matthews dominated from the outset and scored a second-round stoppage to give Gombas' backers another easy winner. Anyone who has followed Gombas already has seen massive returns.
Now, with UFC 277: Peña vs. Nunes 2 in sight, Gombas has studied the card from every angle and released his top MMA picks. You can only see Gombas' UFC 277 picks at SportsLine.
UFC 277: Peña vs. Nunes preview
Nunes (21-5) is one of the most dominant champions in UFC history and one of just four fighters to hold titles in two weight classes at the same time. The others are Conor McGregor, Daniel Cormier and Henry Cejudo.
She had successfully defended the bantamweight title seven times, and there was a widespread belief that the division no longer offered any viable challengers because Nunes already had defeated all of them in dominant fashion.
Peña (11-4) was awarded the title shot largely because she was the only ranked contender calling for a fight with Nunes and her confidence made for a marketable matchup. But the 32-year-old Chicago resident backed up her words by walking down Nunes and appeared to break the will of the reigning champion.
Although Peña's win was officially scored as a rear-naked choke submission, Nunes went down after a series of strikes and appeared to concede the fight as soon as she hit the mat.
Nunes, who is still the women's featherweight champion, later chalked up the performance to an off night and the 34-year-old Brazilian asked for an immediate rematch. Peña didn't hesitate to take the fight. You can only see who to back at UFC 277 at SportsLine.
UFC 277 predictions
We'll share one of Gombas' UFC 277 selections here: He is backing Magomed Ankalaev (-475) to beat Anthony Smith in a light heavyweight bout on the main card. Ankalaev is the fourth contender behind Jiri Prochazka in this division, while Smith is fifth.
After losing his UFC debut to Paul Crag, Ankalaev has won eight straight -- all by either KO/TKO or unanimous decision. Smith, meanwhile, is just 4-3 in his last seven fights, and Gombas is expecting Ankalaev to make relatively easy work of him as he continues his march up the division's rankings.
"Ankalaev has been a budding light heavyweight prospect for several years now," Gombas told SportsLine. "He may finally get a title shot with a victory over Anthony Smith. I believe Ankalaev's wrestling will be too much for Smith, who has had trouble defending takedowns in the past. Ankalaev is well-rounded and I expect to see him fighting for the belt soon." See who else to pick at UFC 277 here.
How to make UFC 277 picks
Gombas also has strong picks for UFC 277: Peña vs. Nunes and other fights on the UFC 277 card. He's also backing a fighter who "has great output and cardio" to emerge with a dominant victory. Those UFC 277 picks are only available at SportsLine.
Who wins UFC 277: Peña vs. Nunes 2? And what other picks do you need to see? Visit SportsLine now to get detailed top picks on UFC Fight Night, all from the insider who's up more than $10,000 on MMA picks the past two years, and find out.
UFC 277 odds, fight card
Amanda Nunes (-300) vs. Julianna Peña (+250)
Brandon Moreno (-200) vs. Kai Kara-France (+175)
Magomed Ankalaev (-475) vs. Anthony Smith (+380)
Sergei Pavlovich (-120) vs. Derrick Lewis (+100)
Don'Tale Mayes (-140) vs. Hamdy Abdelwahab (+120)
Alexandre Pantoja (-150) vs. Alex Perez (+130)
Drew Dober (-210) vs. Rafael Alves (+180)
Matthew Semelsberger (-160) vs. Alex Morono (+140)
Joselyne Edwards (-140) vs. Ji Yeon Kim (+120)
Ihor Potieria (-145) Nicolae Negumereanu (+125)
Drakkar Close (-210) vs. Rafa Garcia (+180)
Orion Cosce (-170) vs. Blood Diamond (+150)