UFC 289: Quick picks and prognostications

MMA Junkie analyst Dan Tom breaks down the UFC’s top bouts. Today, we look at the main card for UFC 289.

UFC 289 takes place Saturday at Rogers Arena in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. The main card airs on pay-per-view following prelims on ESPN and ESPN+.

Last event’s results: 5-1

Overall picks for UFC main cards in 2023: 50-41-3

Welcome to MMAJunkie’s Quick Picks and Prognostications, where I’ll be giving brief, fight-day breakdowns for UFC main cards.

With that in mind, I hope these write-ups don’t come off as curt or dismissive, as my goal here is to offer quick picks and analysis in a digestible format.

If you’d like more detailed analysis from me, then feel free to check out my weekly show, The Protect Ya’ Neck Podcast.

So, without further ado…

Eryk Anders (+115) vs. Marc-Andre Barriault (-135)

Continuing to kill Joe Silva’s surefire method of kicking off main cards with lightweight or featherweight fights, the current crop of UFC matchmakers decided to open the paid portion of the card with a middleweight matchup between Eryk Anders and Marc-Andre Barriault.

Both men are coming off of solid second-round finishes, but have traditionally taken part in clinch-heavy affairs that go to decision.

I suspect that we get more of the same here, so I’ll side with the fighter who is showing more improvements and is not amid a camp change.

The pick is Barriault by decision.

Dan Ige (-260) vs. Nate Landwehr (+205)

In what was the obvious answer for tonight’s main-card opener, Dan Ige will do battle with the always entertaining [autotatg]Nate Landwehr.

Despite coming off like a character from an 80s workout video with the personality of Drexl from “True Romance” in tow, Landwehr has proven that he is more than just a fun fighter.

The Clarksville native has made notable improvements to his striking and submissions since moving shop to MMA Masters, but I’m not sure it will be enough to overcome the durable and damaging Ige.

There’s obviously some bias attached to this pick given my relationship with Ige’s team, but I’ll be picking the Hawaiian to score another knockout for the highlight reel by round two.

Mike Malott (-215) vs. Adam Fugitt (+172)

Filling out the main card is a welterweight bout between Mike Malott and Adam Fugitt.

It’s nice to Malott, as well as the other Canadians on the card, get a chance to shine on home soil. That said, I wouldn’t be surprised if Fugitt’s southpaw sensibilities provide some issues early for Malott.

I’ll side with Malott to pick up another club-and-sub by the second round, but the underdog feels extra-lively in this spot.

Charles Oliveira (+124) vs. Beneil Dariush (-152)

Although this fight is pretty much guaranteed fireworks, I hate that the UFC, once again, pits two of the most deserving fighters in the division against each other in favor of those they deem more marketable.

I initially came into this fight suspecting that Dariush will be a bad matchup for Oliveira, and that could very well be true.

That said, offense is a potent two-way street in this matchup.

Aside from the fact that Dariush’s durability can also be brought into question, I believe that Oliveira’s offense – from flying knees to counter hooks – will be strikes to watch for in this fight.

Even though Dariush crushing Oliveira with a southpaw counter or liver kick is a real possibility, I’ll side with “Slim Charles” to survive the storm and capitalize on his opponent’s propensity to give bad positions.

The pick is Oliveira by first-round submission.

Amanda Nunes (-340) vs. Irene Aldana (+260)

The main event features a bantamweight title fight between Amanda Nunes and Irene Aldana.

As stated in my in-depth breakdown, this could end up being a more competitive fight than the odds let on.

Nunes is obviously the rightful favorite and the safe pick, but I also suspect that the sitting champ runs the risk of finding herself in a dogfight if she’s not careful.

Not only does Aldana have the durability and size parity to match Nunes, but the Mexican fighter has quietly been channeling her cardio and improved technique into a more aggressive finishing prowess.

Add in Nunes’ retirement talk, and I believe that an upset is on the table.

I don’t make a habit of picking against GOATs often (believe it or not), but I’ll take a flier on Aldana to turn this into a highly-paced affair that sees a desperate Nunes fall into an armbar by the fourth round.

Story originally appeared on MMA Junkie