Headlining this Saturday’s UFC 277 are two title fights and rematches that are sure to garner much of the week’s attention. Let’s take a look at three fights that have fallen through the cracks as we preview UFC 277 sleeper fights!
The Sleeper Fights of UFC 277
Alexandre Pantoja vs. Alex Perez
Let’s start with the biggest sleeper of the night, which happens to be on the main card. The co-main event 125lbs interim title fight is not the only bout in that division to have significant title implications for the future, as #4 ranked Alexandre Pantoja takes on #6 Alex Perez.
Having two wins over the former champion and interim title challenger Brandon Moreno, Pantoja has been a standout talent ever since joining the UFC going 8-3 and riding a current two-fight win streak. With half of his wins coming via finish (2 submissions 2 TKO/KOs), Pantoja blends his striking and takedowns well to secure him back control as a black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.
Going up against a wrestler, Pantoja will look to counter his opponent’s takedowns with submission attempts and snatch guillotine, like current champ Deiveson Figueiredo back in 2020.
Fighting last in the aforementioned title fight with champion Figueiredo, Alex Perez has taken nearly a two-year layoff before his scheduled bout this Saturday. With a 6-2 record since joining the UFC, Perez has taken on all comers and more times than not come out the victor. Look for this contest to be a high action pace as one will look to keep top control on the ground, while the other will try to secure another submission victory as the winner of this will likely be fighting for a title next once the pecking order at the top is situated.
Magomed Ankalaev vs. Anthony Smith
In a fight that could easily be the main event of a UFC Fight Night, top-ranked light heavyweights Magomed Ankalaev and Anthony Smith (#4 and #5 respectively) will go head to head to provide some clarity as to whom will be the next contenders for the belt.
Currently, it seems as though champion Jiri Prochazka will be rematching Glover Texiera in a rematch from UFC 275, but the winner of this could easily face former champ Jan Blachowicz in an eliminator bout. Considered the dark horse of the division since the fall of 2020, Ankalaev is 17-1 (8-1 UFC), currently riding an 8-fight win streak. With his lone loss coming in his debut with one second left in a fight he was winning, he tapped to a triangle choke from none other than Paul Craig.
Showing that was nothing more than a fluke, he has put away his opponents with ease including his first main event spot against the fabled Thiago Santos. Going up against veteran Anthony Smith, Ankalaev is looking to exert his dominance and cap the night off with a finish.
The former title challenger in “Lionheart” Smith is out of his post-title fight slump and showing his peers and fans that he has one more run to the top left in him. With three stoppage victories in a row, the confidence is beaming off of Smith as he looks to make it four against the stoic Ankalaev.
In what could be a fifteen-minute blitz or chess match, these two will look to open the main card with a statement that is sure to keep the Dallas fans buzzing through the rest of the night. Make sure to get the PPV early because you surely do not want to miss this one!
Drakkar Klose vs. Rafa Garcia
The final UFC 277 sleeper fight of the night opens up the prelims in a lightweight bout between two very slept-on (no pun intended) fighters in Drakkar Klose and Rafa Garcia.
Both fighters entering the UFC undefeated, they ran into some speed bumps during their big league runs but have both mounted up wins and are both coming off of wins. Many remember the slugfest loss that Klose had against top lightweight contender Beneil Dariush, a fight which he could have easily won if he did not get caught in the closing sequence.
The Mexican Garcia started his UFC run with back-to-back losses but has mounted a two-fight win streak, with a decision win over prospect Natan Levy and his most recent victory a submission over Jesse Ronson back in April. Although neither of these fighters is ranked, they will be fighting to keep their win streaks going and possibly face a top-15 ranked fighter next.
With eight submission victories under his belt already look for Garcia to try to take this fight to the ground as the striker Klose will look to defend and keep the fight standing and add to his five KO/TKO wins. This could ultimately be 15 minutes of fire, with the winners being the fans. Circle this ABC opener to really get the show rolling.
What’s your favorite UFC 277 sleeper fight?
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