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UFC 289: Nunes vs Aldana - Jun 10 🇨🇦


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Posted (edited)

We’re off to Vancouver, Canada with this lot…

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PPV MAIN CARD
Amanda Nunes©️vs Irene Aldana - Bantamweight Title 

Charles Oliveira vs Beneil Dariush

Mike Malott vs Adam Fugitt 

Dan Ige vs Nate Landwehr

Eryk Anders vs Marc-Andre Barriault 

ESPN PRELIMS 
David Dvorak vs Stephen Erceg 

Khalil Rountree vs TBA 

Jasmine Jasudavicius vs Miranda Maverick

Nassourdine Imavov vs Chris Curtis 

ESPN+/FIGHT PASS PRELIMS
Aiemann Zahabi vs Aoriqileng

Blake Bilder vs Kyle Nelson 

Diana Belbita vs Maria Oliveira 

 

First card in Canada since 2019! Mad really when you remember how much they loved the place a few years ago. Just hasn’t been the same since GSP retired. I’ve actually got family in Vancouver. I probably could’ve lined up a trip to see them with attending this show. But who’s risking that these days? The way things go now, chances are half the card falls apart before you even get off the plane. Again, not a mega stacked PPV or anything. Take off the top two fights and it’s Apex stuff. Hopefully those fights stay intact. The bout order is correct as I type this but I’ll edit as and when.

 

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Amanda Nunes vs Irene Aldana tops this one. Not a main event that’s gonna set the world on fire but it’s better than what we were gonna get, in my opinion. It was supposed to be Nunes vs Pena 3 but Pena’s pulled out. And that doesn’t upset me one bit. I got why they were doing that rubber match. There’s not much else to work with in either the women’s Bantamweight or Featherweight divisions so I can see why they went with the trilogy decider. But it just felt dead on arrival after the way the last fight went.

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Nunes battered Pena in their rematch back in July. It went the full 5 rounds and it was a complete and utter mauling. Nunes must’ve knocked her down 4 or 5 times in the first couple of rounds, there were 10-8 rounds in there, lots of blood, a total shutout on the scorecards. The only thing she didn’t do was get the finish. She claimed after that she deliberately carried Pena the 25 minute distance to prove a point and teach her a lesson but I’m not having that. As much as I can’t stand Pena, I’ll at least give her the credit for being tough enough to survive that beating. It must’ve been sweet, sweet redemption for Nunes though. After the craziness of Pena beating her the first time, then all the yapping she did between then and the rematch. It was satisfying as fuck for me just watching it so I can only imagine how it felt for Nunes to right that wrong and get that gold back.

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The most dominant champion in women’s MMA history. Crushed Miesha Tate at UFC 200 to win the belt, destroyed Ronda Rousey and ran her out of the sport, stood and traded bombs with Cyborg and knocked her out, was the first to knock out Holly Holm in MMA, beat Valentina Shevchenko twice, it’s been quite a ride. The one blip was that first Pena fight, and I still can’t wrap my head around how she managed to lose that one in such embarrassingly spectacular fashion. But she’s corrected that as well now. There’s really not much left for her to do. There’s been talk for a while that she’s probably retiring soon. Even before that loss to Pena those rumours were rumbling. I can’t see her fighting too much longer. I read recently that her and Nina are expecting a second baby as well so I reckon she’ll step away soon. She’s seemed a little bit disinterested for a while now and she definitely appears to have lost a step. Now with a second kid on the way, her focus is gonna be more and more on the home life and not hanging around sweaty gyms and trading punches. I’m guessing realistically, we’ll probably get a couple more fights tops out of her. And while there aren’t many opponents to get excited about now, I actually don’t mind this one at all.

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Of course, Irene Aldana was all set to headline the Apex card on May 20th in a rematch against Raquel Pennington. A fight no sod was clamouring for but it was most likely gonna be a #1 contenders fight so, if nothing else, there were at least some stakes to the matchup. But with Pena dropping off this card, it’s forced a reshuffle and here we are. Aldana’s no world beater and she has her flaws, but in a division as poor as women’s 135, she stands out a bit as an entertaining fighter. She’s 14-6 with 11 finishes and, like most Mexican fighters, she’s always game for a proper scrap. My first time seeing her was her UFC debut in 2016. She lost to Leslie Smith on points but it was a wild FOTN and she instantly made a fan out of me. Since then she’s armbarred Bethe Correia and put Ketlen Vieira and Yana Santos away with strikes. The Vieira KO was a nasty left hook that was about as good a one punch finish as I’ve seen in a women’s fight. Then in her last fight against Macy Chiasson in September, she went and did this…

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A fucking upkick to the liver of all things! Somewhere, Bas Rutten was looking on with a sadistic smile on his face. Chiasson was absolutely bollocksed after that. Done. Just brutal. She hasn’t had the strongest run of wins in terms of competition but she’s very rarely dull. And that goes a long way in that division. I like her. She has missed weight in the past though. I hope that’s not an issue here. The whole thing’s already been enough of a shitshow with the lack of depth at 135, then Pena pulling out. Hopefully it’s all straightforward from here.

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“I’m definitely very excited, I’m fighting the greatest of all time! I respect Amanda a lot, I’m grateful for the opportunity and we’re ready.” - Irene Aldana

I really like this fight, to be fair. Putting aside that it’s weak as a PPV main event for a second, which doesn’t effect us anyway because it’s not PPV in the UK. And OK it’s a weird fit for a Canada headliner. Purely as a fight, a pairing of styles, I think there’s legit potential fireworks here. Aldana comes to finish and we know how Nunes usually responds to that. You’ve got to favour Nunes but with retirement looming, a second baby coming, plus just some of the mad results we’ve seen particularly in the women’s title fights lately, I don’t know. I’m at the point where I don’t think I’d be massively shocked if Aldana pulled it off like her fellow Mexican buddy Alexa Grasso did against Shevchenko. Stranger things have happened. Fuck, stranger upsets have happened to Nunes herself! I read the other day that Raquel Pennington will be the official backup for this one, which makes sense as she’s really the only option right now. But yeah, people are gonna be down on it topping a PPV but I think this’ll be fun for as long as it lasts.

 

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Charles Oliveira vs Beneil Dariush is ***WAND’S ONE TO WATCH*** and the real main event for me. I’d usually try to highlight something lower down the card but this is the one as far as I’m concerned. One of those great fights where as long as this stays intact, I’m happy and the card is worthwhile. I don’t know yet if this is scheduled for 5 rounds or 3 but I hope it’s a 5 rounder. It just feels like it should be, doesn’t it? There’s actually some history here as well. Not in terms of bad blood or anything but they’ve been matched up together twice now but it hasn’t got over the line. October 2020 was when they were originally supposed to meet. That was just a Fight Night and I’m sure it was set to play second fiddle to Holm vs Aldana! Ridiculous. Then obviously, they were announced for UFC 288 in May. Both times Oliveira pulled out. Hopefully third time’s a charm here because this is such an interesting fight.

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Oliveira’s looking for some redemption here. The last time we saw him was October, getting dropped and submitted by Islam Makhachev in their big title fight in Abu Dhabi. It was a crushing defeat not just for the loss itself, but the way it happened. Makhachev beat him everywhere.

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Before that, Oliveira had put together a short but stupidly exciting run as champion which saw him finish Michael Chandler, Dustin Poirier and Justin Gaethje in consecutive bangers. That Makhachev loss snapped a strong 11 fight winning streak but Oliveira is a made man now regardless. That run to the title saw him finally get the respect he’s deserved for years. He’s become one of the most popular fighters on the roster and he deserves every bit of it. He’s been great to watch since he got in the door of the UFC all those years ago as a wet behind the ears 19/20 year old kid or whatever he was. And he seems like a lovely bloke as well. Always see stuff about him doing charity work in Brazil and he just always comes across as if he’s loving life. I’ll be honest though, as rebound fights go, this isn’t gonna be an easy one.

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Dariush is no joke. He’s been one of the more under-appreciated guys in the 155 division for a few years, in my opinion. It’s changed a little bit recently and he finally seems to making some headway. But he doesn’t quite get his due for me. Oliveira went through a very similar thing on his climb. I’d say Dariush now is about where Oliveira was when he got his big chance against Tony Ferguson. This is that fight for Dariush that could finally catapult him into an undeniable position in the title picture. He’s 34 years old now and looks like he’s in, or coming into, his prime. He’s a BJJ black-belt, 22-4-1 in MMA and on an 8 fight winning streak. Won a couple of fantastic fights against Carlos Diego Ferreira, has his own win over Ferguson etc. The only thing that’s really stifled his progress since has been injuries. He was supposed to fight Makhachev last year but suffered a leg injury. Shit like that. He did return in October though and looked great in his win over Mateusz Gamrot.

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That was on the undercard of the big Oliveira vs Makhachev clash and I remember going in, seeing a lot of fans dismissing Dariush. It seemed like either people were just underestimating him or the layoff made everyone forget. But the way he handled Gamrot was a bit of an eye opener and a real statement from Benny that he was still a force in the Lightweight ranks. Considering he’d been out well over a year going into that one, I thought he looked fantastic.

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Awesome fight this. Again, I hope they get 5 rounds. They might not need it but just incase. It feels like one of those fights that could be great over 3 rounds but fucking incredible over 5. And the last thing we want here is them having a mega competitive 15 minute fight that ends at a bit of a stalemate and really needs the extra 2 rounds. It’s a brilliant fight. I’m sure the vast majority will be predicting Charles by murder etc. I love him but some of the more recent bandwagon Oliveira fans are a bit much with that. He’s a tremendous fighter and he’s definitely levelled up over the last few years but he has his flaws like any fighter and he’s certainly not unbeatable. And looking at that loss to Makhachev, I can’t help thinking Dariush has the kind of grappling to also potentially give Charles issues. And people sleep on his striking as well. He could be a very tricky fight for Oliveira. I think I’m favouring Charles slightly, maybe, but it’s a risky one.

 

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Mike Malott vs Adam Fugitt looks well out of place on a PPV main card. Not sure this would even make the main card on most Fight Nights but there’s a good reason for it here. Malott’s Canadian. And to be fair, he looks decent from the little I’ve seen of him. If you recall, he scored a brutal first round faceplant KO against Mickey Gall in his UFC debut last year. He followed that up with a first round submission over Yohan Lainesse in February this year. So far, so good. He’s 9-1-1 overall now with all his wins coming inside the distance. Fugitt’s 9-3 with 8 finishes and got stopped by Michael Morales in his debut last summer. He rebounded with a TKO win over Yusaku Kinoshita early this year. Can’t say I remember a great deal about Fugitt but I suspect they’ve set this up, and especially looking at the card placement, to give the Canadian fans something to cheer about in the midcard of the PPV. For what it’s worth, I’ve seen both guys UFC fights and Malott’s are the ones that stuck in my memory. So there’s that.

 

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Dan Ige vs Nate Landwehr is essential viewing. I think anyone who’s seen anything of Nate The Train knows by now, when he’s on the card, you tune in. I like Ige as the opponent here as well though. He’s coming off a sweet knockout win over Damon Jackson in January. It was a result and finish that he badly needed coming off 3 straight losses. He’s a good fighter, has a win over Barboza, went 5 rounds with Kattar etc. But he’s hit a few roadblocks along the way. For now he’s back on track but…there’s a ‘Train’ joke in there somewhere.

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“I got a highlight reel like Evel Knievel, I got swagger like Elvis Presley, and I’ll be damned if I ain’t handsome.” - Nate Landwehr

Nate’s been a blast to watch so far in the UFC. He’s never gonna be champion or anything but he’s been one of the best additions to the roster in years for me. Non-stop entertainment, win or lose, and what a character! He’s 17-4 now, has won his last 3 in a row and got either FOTN or POTN bonuses for all 3 fights. His fight with David Onama last August was bonkers. Genuinely one of my favourite fights of 2022. Easy Top 10 for the year. Then he submitted Austin Lingo in March this year. He’s had his ups and downs but he’s building a bit of momentum now. I don’t expect it to last long but I hope they keep him around forever. Fuck the win/loss ratio. Give him an Alex Caceres run and just keep him around forever. This should be another fun one as well. It’s hard to think who they could throw Nate in with and not get something good out of it. Ige should make for an exciting matchup with him.

 

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Eryk Anders vs Marc-Andre Barriault is currently set to kick off the PPV. Again, seems a bit of a weird choice until you realise Barriault is Canadian. Not sure what to think about this fight. Anders does nothing for me these days. There was a time when I thought he might have some potential but we’re going back years. Back when he lost that decision against Lyoto Machida that many thought he won. He’s 36 now with a record of 15-7-0-1. He’s coming off a TKO win over Kyle Daukaus in December but, I don’t know, he’s just a name I see on a card now and kind of groan. Probably being a tad harsh but I just don’t really get why he’s still on the roster. Barriault’s the opposite. He’s a guy who came in and had a few dull fights and I just wrote him off as a boring bastard. But I’ve kind of done a 180 on him recently. Win or lose, he’s been much better to watch over his last few fights and he absolutely battered Julian Marquez in his last fight in March. Hoping Barriault sends Anders packing, to be honest.

 

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David Dvorak vs Stephen Erceg is one of those fights I’m pretty much going in blind on. It was supposed to be Dvorak vs Matt Schnell but that went tits up. Can’t remember much of Dvorak at all. I know I’ve seen him fight before but nothing is jumping out in the memory. He’s Czech, 20-5 and coming off back-to-back decision losses to Matheus Nicolau and Manel Kape. He was on a 16 fight win streak prior to that though and won his first 3 UFC fights. Erceg is making his debut here. Never seen him before but my first impression seeing his picture there is he looks like the love child of Kenny Florian and Ryan Hall. He’s 27 years old, Australian and has a 9-1 record with 7 finishes.

 

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Khalil Rountree vs Chris Daukaus is an interesting one actually. We all know about Rountree. Never gonna trouble the top contenders but, pound-for-pound, he’s got to be one of the most purely violent fighters on the entire roster. When he flips the switch and really lets loose it’s scary to watch. There’s just something about the way he goes for the kill that I’ve only seen in a handful of fighters. Wanderlei Silva, Robbie Lawler and Melvin Manhoef being a few that spring to mind. Rountree actually has links to Wandy as well and even has a tattoo of the Wand Fight Team logo.

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All makes sense now, doesn’t it? The knock on Rountree has always been inconsistency but, to be fair, he’s won his last 3 in a row now and has looked good in those fights. Daukaus is actually where the intrigue lies for me though. He’s actually making his Light Heavyweight debut here! Not a move I ever really expected him to make but he’s been floundering up at Heavyweight and has been knocked out in his last 3 fights. Rozenstruik done him in just 23 seconds last time out! Not good. So Daukaus had to change something. And it actually makes sense. He’s got plenty of bodyfat he can shed but he’s got a lot of weight to drop. His 205 debut being against Rountree is a bit of a baptism of fire as well so we’ll see how it plays out.

 

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Jasmine Jasudavicius vs Miranda Maverick isn’t doing much for me. But Jasudavicius is Canadian so maybe the crowd will be into it more and that will give the fight a little boost? She hasn’t looked great in the fights I’ve seen so far. She’s 34 years old, 8-2 with only 3 finishes and she’s beat Kay Hansen and Gabriella Fernandes so far in the UFC. She also got absolutely schooled by Natalia Silva in between those wins. I rate Silva so no shame there but Jasmine got seriously outclassed in that one. Almost embarrassingly so. Maverick’s a weird one for me. Results-wise she hasn’t done the best but watching her fights I’ve felt like there’s potential there. Little flashes of potential. She beat Shanna Young and Sabina Mazo in her last two, which is whatever. She also beat Gillian Robertson a couple of years ago, which is decent. Lost a split decision against Maycee Barber that I remember most, including me, had Maverick winning. And she went the distance with Erin Blanchfield, which isn’t ageing too badly. I don’t see her ever becoming a title threat but she’s still only 25 so she’s got some time to improve. If she can’t beat someone like Jasudavicius though, that’s obviously all bollocks.

 

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Nassourdine Imavov vs Chris Curtis feels like it should be higher up the card than this but whatever. Imavov let me down big time in his last fight, dropping a decision to fucking Sean Strickland in their Apex main event in January. We’ll never stop getting those Strickland 5 rounders when berks like Imavov are losing to him. Imavov did beat Joaquin Buckley in an enjoyable fight on the Paris card before that. And he stopped Edmen Shahbazyan and Ian Heinisch before that. He’s 12-4 now, not a bad fighter but not particularly good either from what I’ve seen. I expect him to settle in around the middle of the pack at 185, with the occasional unsuccessful step up in levels now and then. Curtis is 30-10 and coming off a points loss in a cracking fight against Kelvin Gastelum at UFC 287 in April. That was a loaded card and they still got FOTN. He knocked Joaquin Buckley out prior to that and also has UFC wins over Brendan Allen and Rodolfo Vieira. Decent fight.

 

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Aiemann Zahabi vs Aoriqileng should be worth a look. Zahabi will have the crowd support being Canadian, obviously. He’s had a very up and down run in the UFC. He came in with some interest around him, mostly because he’s the brother of MMA coach to the stars Firas Zahab, most known for his work with GSP. Aiemann was unbeaten when he made his UFC debut but it didn’t stay that way for long. His first loss came via spinning elbow KO of all things back in 2017. He’s 9-2 now and coming off wins over Drako Rodriguez and Ricky Turcios. So he’s clawed it back a bit. But at 35 years old now, he’s not going on some big run in a division as loaded as Bantamweight.

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The ‘Mongolian Murderer’ AKA Aoriqileng. Always got time for his fights. I don’t even know if I’m spelling his name right. Some places have it Aoriqileng, others have it Aori Qileng. Fuck knows? What I do know is he’s been fucking great to watch pretty much every time out since signing with the UFC. He’s 24-9 overall with 9 finishes. So he’s not some knockout or submission machine. But it’s definitely not for lack of trying. He stopped Cameron Else with a nasty body shot a couple of fights ago. And I bring it up every time he fights but if you never saw Aoriqileng vs Jeff Molina from UFC 261 in April 2021, get on Fight Pass immediately and give it a watch. I think that was my first time seeing either fighter, went in with zero expectations and it was such a great fight that both instantly became ‘must see’ TV for me.

 

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Blake Bilder vs Kyle Nelson is whatever. Not particularly arsed. Bilder didn’t really impress that much in his UFC debut from what I remember. He beat Shane Young on points on the Makhachev vs Volkanovski undercard in February and I just recall it being one of the only dull things on an otherwise excellent show. Maybe there’s better to come, to be fair. He’s undefeated at 8-0-1. But my first impression wasn’t the best. Nelson’s 13-5-1 and coming off a draw against the Korean Superboy in February. He’s gone a shitty 1-4-1 in the UFC since signing. Bit of a strange piece of matchmaking really because it’s clear they’re setting this up as a squash match but Nelson is Canadian. Why use him as a jobber in his own backyard?

 

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Diana Belbita vs Maria Oliveira is nothing happening prelim fodder. I think I’ve seen all of their UFC fights and I don’t recall being impressed with either. Belbita is 26 years old, Romanian, with a record of 14-7 and 10 finishes. In the UFC she’s gone 1-4 so far with the only win being over Hannah Goldy, who’s cack. She lost a decision to Gloria De Paula in her last fight and that was February last year. So well over a year on the sidelines for her coming into this fight. Oliveira’s also 26, Brazilian and has a 13-6 record with 8 inside the distance. She’s gone 1-2 in the UFC and the win was a split decision over De Paula. She then lost her last fight against Vanessa Demopoulos in November. Man, I got bored even typing this. I’d say it’s probably a ‘loser leaves’ thing but it won’t be. Gotta keep them Apex cards stocked up!

 

289, eh? 

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Edited by wandshogun09
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