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Each week, MMA Junkie reviews the resumes of top fighters across the world’s best promotions to complete the USA TODAY Sports/MMA Junkie rankings. Fighters competing in the UFC, Bellator, PFL and other key promotions are eligible for our global rankings.
Week in and week out, top competitors put their rankings on the line when they step into the cage, making these fights matter just a little bit more.
Check below for a breakdown of which ranked fighters are in action this week.
Flyweight: No. 6 Alexandre Pantoja vs. No. 9 Alex Perez
Flyweight division: No. 6 Alexandre Pantoja (24-5 MMA, 8-3 UFC) meets No. 9 Alex Perez (24-6 MMA, 6-2 UFC) at UFC 277.
- Pantoja enters UFC 277 on a two-fight winning streak. In 2021, he picked up a unanimous decision win over Manel Kape and a second-round rear-naked choke finish of Brandon Royval.
- Perez returns to action for his first fight since a title opportunity as a replacement against Figueiredo at UFC 255. Prior to that, Perez won three straight, defeating Mark De La Rosa, Jordan Espinosa and Jussier Formiga.
Light heavyweight: No. 10 Anthony Smith vs. No. 12 Magomed Ankalaev
Light Heavyweight division: No. 10 Anthony Smith (36-16 MMA, 11-6 UFC) meets Magomed Ankalaev (17-1 MMA, 8-1 UFC) at UFC 277.
- Former title challenger Smith enters on a three-fight winning streak with stoppage wins over Devin Clark, Jimmy Crute and Ryan Spann.
- Ankalaev’s only professional loss came in his 2018 UFC debut. Since then, he has won eight straight, including back-to-back unanimous decision wins over former title challengers Volkan Oezdemir and Thiago Santos.
Heavyweight: No. 5 Derrick Lewis vs. HM Sergei Pavlovich
Heavyweight division: No. 5 Derrick Lewis (26-9 MMA, 17-7 UFC) faces HM Sergei Pavlovich at UFC 277.
- Former title challenger Lewis dropped his previous outing to Tai Tuivasa at UFC 271. Prior to the defeat, he finished Chris Daukaus in the first round of the main event at UFC Fight Night 199 to break the UFC knockout record.
- Pavlovich dropped his UFC debut to Alistair Overeem in 2018, but has since finished his next three opponents in the first round, stopping Marcelo Golm, Maurice Greene and Shamil Abdurakhimov.
Flyweight: No. 2 Brandon Moreno vs. No. 4 Kai Kara-France
Flyweight division: No. 2 Brandon Moreno (19-6-2 MMA, 7-3-2 UFC) faces No. 4 Kai Kara-France (24-9 MMA, 7-2 UFC) at UFC 277 for the interim flyweight title .
- This bout is a rematch from UFC 245 in 2019. Moreno won the first meeting by unanimous decision.
- Former champion Moreno is coming off three straight bouts against champion Deiveson Figueiredo. The first meeting was a draw, Moreno won the rematch by third-round submission and Figueiredo won the third by decision.
- Kara-France enters his first title opportunity on a three-fight winning streak. He finished Rogerio Bontorin and former bantamweight champion Cody Garbrandt in the first round, and most recently defeated Askar Askarov by unanimous decision in March.
Women’s Bantamweight: No. 1 Julianna Pena vs. No. 2 Amanda Nunes
Women’s bantamweight division: No. 1 Julianna Peña (11-4 MMA, 7-2 UFC) faces No. 2 Amanda Nunes (21-5 MMA, 14-2 UFC) in a rematch for the women’s bantamweight title.
- This bout is a rematch from UFC 269. Peña defeated Nunes by submission in the second round to become champion.
- Peña enters the main event of UFC 277 looking to defend her title for the first time on a two-fight winning streak. After submitting Sara McMann with a rear-naked choke at UFC 257, she defeated Nunes with the same finish at UFC 269.
- Nunes, who still holds the women’s featherweight title, will look to rebound from her first loss since 2014. Nunes won 12 straight fights before falling to Peña, including nine title fight victories.