The UFC had a wonderful return to action last Saturday with UFC Vegas 44, and we keep the action on with UFC 269, the final Pay-Per-View card of 2021!
The main event puts gold on the line as Charles Oliveira seeks to make his first title defense against the star-shattering Dustin Poirier in a matchup heavily awaited by fans. In our co-main, the GOAT Amanda Nunes makes her fifth Bantamweight title defense, as Julianna Pena seeks to do the impossible. We also have the Flyweight debut of Cody Garbrandt opposite Kai Kara-France, while Raulian Paiva looks to derail the hype train of Sean O’Malley in the opener.
Charles Oliveira vs. Dustin Poirier (LW)
A UFC mainstay for almost eleven years, Charles Oliveira (31-8, 19-8 UFC) moved up from Featherweight and going on a tear, currently riding a nine fight winning streak with all but one victory coming by stoppage. “Do Bronx” recently received his Brazilian jiu-jitsu third degree black belt and holds the record for the most submissions inside the Octagon. He is an absolute killer when the fight hits the mat, with oppressive top control, lethal submissions, and slick submissions. He has demonstrated the vast improvement to his striking skill in recent efforts, scoring knockouts over Nik Lentz and Jared Gordon. His standup is based upon his pressure and unorthodox strikes, loving to throw jumping front kicks and spinning attacks as he has no fear of going to the mat. He has powerful low kicks and constant forward pressure, though his cardio has been a concern before.
Dustin Poirier (27-6, 19-4 UFC) finally secured Lightweight gold at UFC 236 last year, only to lose his shot at the top once again in a unification bout with Khabib. “The Diamond” has been practically unkillable since his move to Lightweight, amounting an impressive 10-2 record at the weight class. He has ridiculous power at that weight, a nice gas tank, and a heavily underrated submission game. He has most recently been seen in colossal PPVs opposite Conor McGregor, winning by knockout in both outings. His two victories prior to that have been five round fight of the night scraps opposite Max Holloway and Dan Hooker, with the latter nearly winning Fight of the Year for 2020.
This is such an intriguing stylistic clash between two well-rounded veterans of the game, with both at the very peaks of their respective careers. Poirier is one of the biggest names in the UFC right now, while Oliveira has his hands on the gold Poirier has been working for for over ten years in the UFC. I expect a wild affair on both the feet and the mat, though I expect Oliveira to dictate where it takes place. Poirier’s takedown defense has not exactly been elite as of late (see his bout opposite Hooker), and Oliveira is not a ground artist to mess around with. With that said, the boxing of Poirier is technically better both offensively and defensively than Oliveira’s aggressive pace. The key advantages that turn the tide for Poirier are his cardio and durability, guaranteeing that he can stay in the action for as long as it goes. I see a strong Oliveira start or possible submission before Poirier takes over and finds the knockout.
My Pick: Dustin Poirier via Knockout
Amanda Nunes vs. Julianna Pena (BW)
Amanda Nunes (21-4, 14-1 UFC) has cemented her legacy as the GOAT, regardless of gender. Not to mention that she’s the best (in my opinion) double champ, as she is the first one to defend both titles after claiming the coveted “double champ” status. “The Lioness” is as violent of a striker as they come, as shown by her brutal knockouts of Ronda Rousey, Holly Holm, and Cris Cyborg, finishing every previous Bantamweight titleholder. Although Nunes began her MMA career training in karate and boxing at only 4 years old, she has an underrated submission game that is well-respected in the jiu-jitsu world. Nunes is incredible on the feet and has shown almost no holes in her game, fighting well off her front and back foot, as well as impeccable striking defense and movement, extending her length to strike from range.
Julianna Pena (10-4, 6-2 UFC) successfully made her return to the Octagon after almost two and a half years, defeating former Flyweight champ Nicco Montano. She was submitted by Germaine de Randamie in her next outing, but got back on track with her own submission over Sara McMann. Her only loss besides GDR in the UFC came to Valentina Shevchenko, which isn’t looking like a bad loss at this point. Pena is a grappler, who excels on the mat and can bully almost anyone with her mat pressure and high tier grappling. On the feet, she isn’t the best. She just shuffles forward with a high guard and little head movement, looking to clinch her opponent or take the fight down. However, she packs a good bit of power and a brawling striking style, though ultimately relying on her grappling.
There isn’t much that goes into predicting Amanda Nunes fights, as there are few who have the skills to truly oppose her. Pena presents a number of new challenges through ehr powerful top control, though she can get defensively reckless on the mat. She is woefully outgunned on the feet, as Nunes has better power, technique, and volume. With that being said, she is sure to push the pace opposite Nunes, but I see it ending in another quick finish for the Brazilian.
My Pick: Amanda Nunes via Knockout
Geoff Neal vs. Santiago Ponzinibbio (WW)
My Pick: Santiago Ponzinibbio via Knockout
Kai Kara-France vs. Cody Garbrandt (FLW)
My Pick: Kai Kara_France via Decision
Sean O’Malley vs. Raulian Paiva (BW)
My Pick: Sean O’Malley via Knockout
The full card is currently slated to have fifteen fights, with the main card kicking off at 10 PM EST!
Categories: UFC Predictions