UFC 289 Preview and Predictions
UFC 289 occurs from the Rodgers Arena in Vancouver, Canada, this Saturday. While it might not play host to the biggest names from top to bottom, this card has some very nice matchups in store for fight fans. Headlined by a massive women’s bantamweight title bout, this card promises to keep true fight fans entertained from start to finish.
In this preview, I will be joined by James Herrick and Jerry Walker. Let’s get into the staff preview and predictions for UFC 289!
Marc-Andre Barriault vs. Eryk Anders (Middleweight bout)
James: The UFC 289 main card starts with a middleweight bout between Marc-Andre Barriault and Eryk Anders. Barriault, the first Canadian on the main card, is amid a career resurgence. After an 0-3 start in the UFC, he has won four of his last six fights. Meanwhile, Anders has evened out at a 7-7 record with one no-contest in the promotion.
Anders, a former Alabama football player, is one of the top athletes in the UFC. That physical acumen has netted Andres a lot of power, but it also makes him a physical presence in the clinch and grappling scenarios. Meanwhile, Barriault has strong cardio and likes to pressure fighters. This is often done by landing hooks on the feet before pressuring with a ton of volume in the clinch.
I think we get a finish in this fight. On Anders’ side, he can land an early shot that hurts Barriault. If that does not happen, Barriault’s pressure will swing this fight in his favor. In that type of fight, I will lean towards the fighter with good cardio that pushes the pace. I will take Barriault via second-round knockout.
Jerry: Barriault via decision
Garrett: Barriault via first-round TKO
No. 13 Dan Ige vs. Nate Landwehr (Featherweight bout)
James: The UFC 289 main card gets hot quickly with a featherweight fight between Dan Ige and Nate Landwehr. Ige has consistently fought the toughest competition in the featherweight division. In fairness, that has not resulted in a sparkly record as he sits at 8-5 in the UFC. That said, if you are not elite, you will not beat Ige. In this fight, Landwehr enters on a three-fight win streak and is looking to break into the top-15.
There is a strong chance that Ige and Landwehr steal the show and win the fight of the night. If there is one thing to know about Ige and Landwehr, it’s that they are willing and able to scrap. That is a type of fight that Landwehr consistently gets into. He loves to get into wars, pressure fighters, and land a flurry of shots to the head and body. In addition, his kicks and wrestling are severely underrated. On the flip side, Ige is an impressive striker in his own right and he will be more than willing to exchange in boxing range with combinations and counters.
The difference maker in this fight, in my opinion, is that Landwehr has suspect striking defense. In the past, we have seen Landwehr get hit and get hit hard. That is not great when you are booked to fight Ige. I will take Ige via first-round knockout.
Jerry: Landwehr via decision
Garrett: Ige via first-round knockout
Mike Malott vs. Adam Fugitt (Welterweight)
James: At UFC 289, Mike Malott and Adam Fugitt are set to fight. Malott has quickly become an exciting prospect in the UFC welterweight division. In Malott’s nine career wins, all have come via first-round finishes. Fugitt serves as a solid test for Malott at this point in his career. With a 9-3 MMA record and 1-1 UFC record, he is far from perfect, but he has some solid skills.
Malott is a finisher at heart. In grappling exchanges, he has really impressive BJJ. In striking exchanges, he has a lot of power. Those skills combine to allow Malott to excel in finishing fights with club and subs. Fugitt is the complete opposite. The longer the fight goes the better the fight gets for him. In terms of skill, Fugitt is an unorthodox striker that finds success with long punches and kicks.
In this fight, Malott wins if he is able to finish the fight early, and Fugitt wins if he can make it out of the first round relatively unscathed. I will lean towards Malott. I believe this fight will start with a fast pace and each fighter will land. If that happens, I trust Malott’s power to begin a finishing sequence. I will take Malott via first-round submission.
Jerry: Malott via submission
Garrett: Malott via second-round submission
No. 1 Charles Oliveira vs. No. 4 Beneil Dariush (Lightweight)
James: The UFC 289 co-main event is an absolute banger. It does not get much better than Charles Oliveira vs. Beneil Dariush. This bout has massive title implications as the winner is expected to fight lightweight champion Islam Makhachev.
For Oliveira, a former champion, that would give him the opportunity to rematch Makhachev, the man he lost the belt to. On the contrary, Dariush is looking to get his first career title shot off the back of his eight-fight win streak.
This fight should be madness as Oliveira and Dariush are another pair of fighters that are more than willing to throw down in the octagon. Oliveira has thrived off creating chaos and capitalizing on openings with massive power strikes and submissions. Additionally, he has shown strong clinch work which provides a bridge between his striking and grappling.
Dariush is a well-rounded fighter in his own right. In the grappling realm, he is a highly credentialed BJJ practitioner and has terrific takedown defense. In striking, he is a strong offensive striker with a lot of power.
Oliveira and Dariush share the same weakness in their game: they get hit too much. In the case of Oliveira, that usually means he is knocked down, but eventually able to recover. That may not be as easy to accomplish in this fight as Dariush’s BJJ skills will allow him to follow Oliveira to the ground and work from the top.
That said, in this fight, the striking defense of Dariush is more concerning to me because of Oliveira’s striking. I think Oliveira will be the more offensive striker and will land power strikes on a more consistent basis. I will take Oliveira via knockout in round two.
Jerry: Oliveira via TKO
Garrett: Dariush via decision
(c) Amanda Nunes vs. No. 5 Irene Aldana (Women’s Bantamweight Championship)
James: In the main event of UFC 289, Amanda Nunes will look to defend the UFC women’s bantamweight title against Irene Aldana. Nunes, the GOAT of women’s MMA, is looking to build upon her legacy after regaining the title in a dominant victory over Julianna Peña. Aldana, on the flip side, is looking to become the fourth Mexican-born fighter on the UFC roster to hold a title.
Aldana, an outstanding technical boxer, will present Nunes will an interesting stylistic clash. Aldana has quick and powerful hands that she uses to land jabs, straights, and counter hooks. In addition, she punishes opponents with violent leg kicks. The flaw in Aldana’s skill set is her defensive grappling. Yes, Aldana has some solid submission skills, but she does not have great takedown defense and struggles to get up when taken down.
The best path to victory for Nunes will be to out-grapple Aldana. Nunes has solid takedowns and submissions, but her ground-and-pound elbows make her a serious threat from the top position. On the feet, Nunes can use her power to compete with Aldana. That is not worth the risk, however. At times, Nunes can get over-aggressive and she can show flaws defensively. If either happens in this fight, Aldana can capitalize with massive power shots.
The narratives surrounding this fight are also worth noting. For Nunes, there are questions surrounding her dedication to the sport and if retirement is in her future. The loss to Peña added a lot of fuel to those concerns.
At the same time, Aldana has strong positives in her favor. One of the keys to beating any MMA legend is that you can not mentally lose the fight before you step into the cage. Megan Anderson looked scared in her fight with Nunes while Peña looked fearless — Peña was the one that left victorious.
In the case of Aldana, she just watched her teammate, Alexa Grasso, defeat longtime champion Valentina Shevchenko. That should add some confidence as she enters the octagon.
In all honesty, I have a hard time picking this fight. I am going to take Aldana, though. On the feet, I think she will have an edge and can land better strikes. Additionally, if either pre-fight narrative holds true, it will favor Aldana. I am very concerned about Nunes’ grappling upside, but I do not think it is a guarantee that she grapples. I will take Aldana via third-round knockout.
Jerry: Nunes via decision
Garrett: Aldana via decision