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UFC 289: Nunes vs Aldana.

UFC 289: Nunes vs. Aldana

UFC 289 Nunes vs Aldana is an upcoming mixed martial arts event produced by the Ultimate Fighting Championship that will take place on June 10, 2023, at the Rogers Arena in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.
Location: Rogers Arena
Date: June 11, 2023 at 8:00 AM GMT+6
City: Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

FIGHT CARD
Amanda Nunes -330 vs. Irene Aldana +260, women’s bantamweight championship
Beneil Dariush -150 vs. Charles Oliveira +126, lightweights
Mike Malott -210 vs. Adam Fugitt +175, welterweights
Dan Ige -260 vs. Nate Landwehr +210, featherweights
Marc-Andre Barriault -140 vs. Eryk Anders +120, middleweights
Nassourdine Imavov -145 vs. Chris Curtis +122, middleweights
Miranda Maverick -300 vs. Jasmine Jasudavicius +240, women’s flyweights
Aoriqileng -120 vs. Aiemann Zahabi +100, bantamweights
Kyle Nelson -240 vs. Blake Bilder +196, featherweights
Matt Schnell vs. David Dvorak, flyweights
Maria Oliveira -120 vs. Diana Belbita +100, women’s strawweights

FULL MATCH

Sure, it’s entirely possible that Saturday’s UFC 289 main event is just business as usual for “The Lioness”: She arrives, she sees, she conquers. Outside of a stunning loss to Julianna Peña in their first meeting (that Nunes emphatically avenged in the second), Nunes has unequivocally been the baddest woman on the planet competing at 135 pounds and up for at least the past five years and few would be surprised if that continues when she faces Irene Aldana.

The headlining bout of the UFC’s return to Canada has lacked buzz for a variety of reasons (Aldana having stepped in on short notice to replace Peña, Nunes’ unerring dominance, the fact that bantamweight and featherweight are wastelands when it comes to developing contenders, we could go on), which is disappointing especially when you consider that Aldana is a live dog on paper. You get the sense that even if she were to upset Nunes this weekend, it wouldn’t have quite the same shock as when Peña temporarily stopped Nunes’ title run.

If anything, a section of fans and media gave anointed the lightweight co-main event between former UFC champion Charles Oliveira and the streaking Beneil Dariush as the most intriguing fight of the night. A surefire banger for as long as it lasts, one can only hope that the UFC will do the right thing and grant the winner of this one a title shot in the near future.

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In other main card action, Canadian welterweight prospect Mike Malott fights Adam Fugitt, Dan Ige and Nate Landwehr clash in a featherweight bout designed to generate fireworks, and middleweight veterans Marc-Andre Barriault and Eryk Anders open the pay-per-view lineup.

What: UFC 289

Where: Rogers Arena in Vancouver, British Columbia.

When: Saturday, June 10. The card begins with a two-fight early prelims portion on ESPN+ at 7 p.m. ET, with continuing coverage of the four-fight prelim card on ESPN and ESPN+ beginning at 8 p.m. ET. The five-fight main card begins at 10 p.m. ET and is available exclusively on ESPN+ pay-per-view.

Amanda Nunes vs. Irene Aldana
If you’ve been paying attention to any of the media punditry in the leadup to the UFC 289 main event — heck, you’ll hear it from MMA Fighting when you listen to the preview show above — you’ll definitely have noticed a ton of support for the challenger Irene Aldana. Her path to a title shot has definitely been strange (since May 2019, Aldana only has one win in an official bantamweight bout, the others have come in a scheduled catchweight bout, two fights where Aldana’s opponent missed weight, and one fight where Aldana missed weight), but she’s been viewed as a potential opponent for Amanda Nunes for so long that there were few complaints when she was called in to replace Julianna Peña.

And I get it, Aldana has good size for the division, great cardio, and if you’re going by tape, she’s the better striker. Even the power differential isn’t all that wide as Aldana packs plenty of pop in her punches. The glaring question that everyone has is how Aldana is going to deal with Nunes’ grappling.

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Aldana isn’t a sitting duck on the ground by any stretch, but she’s a better offensive grappler than she is a defensive grappler. If someone with Nunes’ skills gets her down, it could be over fast. Or Nunes could neutralize her like she did Germaine de Randamie, who isn’t a bad stylistic comparison to Aldana. The best chance Aldana has is to use her reach and distance control to prevent Nunes from ever getting in close because any round that this goes to the mat is a round that Nunes wins.

For me, the only remaining question is whether Nunes can put Aldana away or if this goes to a decision. I think Aldana toughs it out for the moral victory, with Nunes tacking on another title defense and leaving us to continue to wonder what challenges are left for her.

Pick: Nunes

Charles Oliveira vs. Beneil Dariush
This is going to be a wild one.

First things first, for you gamblers out there (never gamble on MMA!), take the under. Beneil Dariush has been in his fair share of compelling three-round wars, but Charles Oliveira has gone the distance just once in the past eight years. These two want that lightweight belt and they’re going to definitively take the other guy out to do it.

Selfishly, I’d love to see this matchup go the distance because both men are truly masters of mixing the martial arts and at finishing in a variety of ways. Oliveira is the most accomplished submission artist in UFC history, but Dariush is right up there as one of the best ground fighters at 155 pounds. And Oliveira has been more susceptible to tapping out than Dariush, let’s not forget.

On the feet, neither man ever shies away from a brawl, often to their detriment, so if it comes down to swangin’ and bangin’ they’re going to stand in the pocket and fire away. My brain tells me that Dariush is slightly better from a technical standpoint, but that doesn’t matter much when you have “do Bronx” marching forward and breathing fire.

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Listen, I was at the front of the Oliveira bandwagon all throughout his run to the title, his reign, and even predicted he’d beat Islam Makhachev and lure Khabib Nurmagomedov out of retirement (they can’t all be winners, folks) and I’m not ready for this ride to end yet. Give me Oliveira by knockout, Round 2.

Pick: Oliveira

Ige vs. Landwehr
Campbell: Is Nate “The Train” simply a fun TV fighter who says wild things into a microphone or is he a future contender at 145 pounds? His fight against No. 13 Dan Ige should answer that question as Landwehr looks to extend his winning streak to four. While the action in this one is expected to be fast and furious, that’s the way Landwehr likes it. An opportunistic grappler, he isn’t afraid to take risks in key moments in order to get a finish. Landwehr is dangerous enough to begin with but he seems to be riding the type of momentum that can’t be ignored. Ige’s eagerness to fight and flaky takedown defense could be the perfect mix to produce the biggest victory of Landwehr’s career.

Mahjouri: Ige hasn’t been lighting the world on fire lately, but that is actually indicative of his talent. Ige is a very good fighter. As a consequence, he’s been paired against some of the division’s best: Calvin Kattar, Josh Emmett, Chan Sung Jung and Mosvar Evloev. Ige won’t be a world champion without a major overhaul, but he’s 31 years old and still very much a threat for most featherweights. Landwehr has that dog in him but anyone would be hard-pressed to beat Ige on sheer toughness. Landwehr wears down foes with ridiculous output, nearly doubling Ige, but he also absorbs significantly more blows. Ige’s power is not to be trifled with and I expect he’ll land a fight-ending bomb.