UFC 289 sees one of the UFC’s batanmweight championships on the line as one of the GOATs, Amanda Nunes, puts the strap up for grabs against short-notice challenger Irene Aldana. Nunes’ mythical aura took a hit with her loss to Julianna Pena. Though in the rematch she proved she’s still the top dog. This event was supposed to be Nunes’ and Pena’s trilogy fight, but the MMA Gods weren’t feeling it. So in comes the streaking Aldana, looking to score an upset and make Mexico the center of the MMA universe.

And, you know what? A few of us think Aldana is going to do just that.

Most of BE’s staff is picking Nunes to win this fight (maybe her last). But it’s nowhere near unanimous, with four of us siding with Aldana.

It’s close in the co-main event, too. With our staff nearly split down the middle when it comes to Charles Oliveira and Beneil Dariush.

Check out all our picks for UFC 289 below and don’t forget to tell us yours in the comments!

UFC 289 picks and predictions

Amanda Nunes vs. Irene Aldana

Anton Tabuena: If Nunes is in shape and motivated at UFC 289, she should have all the tools to take Aldana down and beat her up. Not sure if that’s still the case, but it’s not logical to really pick against her because of that uncertainty. Aldana has a better chance on the feet, but Nunes should be able to be good enough to win either standing or on the mat, especially. Amanda Nunes by TKO.

Victor: I’m going with Aldana. It’s mostly a sympathy pick combined with a patented Reckless Underdog pick, and I don’t care. Nunes is getting up there and maybe Aldana and her team have a way to get off-center and outstrike her from there. Also of note is Amanda’s submission defense, because Irene can really make some inroads if she gets the jump on her like Grasso did Shevchenko.

Yes, that was a very different fight with two very different fighters, but I can’t count Aldana out. Irene was outstruck by Holm in a fight she wasn’t ready for and knocked out by Pacheco when she had less than five fights. Those have aged pretty well in retrospect, and Irene is not the same fighter she was then. Irene Aldana by submission.

Chris: I can’t believe you people are picking Aldana. At least the coin told me I had to. 

Zane: Unlike Chris, I’m not surprised people are rolling the dice on Aldana here. It really does seem like the competitive fire has waned for Amanda Nunes lately. She’s talked about retiring multiple times, even recently admitting that the only reason she hasn’t yet is because she can’t stand Julianna Pena (relatable). That’s not really the kind of thing anyone wants to hear from a champ ahead of a title defense. Otherwise, Aldana hits hard herself, is willing to scrap, and doesn’t seem to fade that badly.

Over five rounds, she has a solid shot. But, the wrestling is a huge problem. Macy Chiasson had no problem taking her down, and that’s largely due to her willingness to pull guard if a shot gets her off balance. It’s a built in reaction that I’m not sure she could correct if she wanted to. Even if this doesn’t end up on the mat though, the fact that Aldana’s happy to sit on the back foot and counter makes me feel like we’ll see a super low-output range war standing, a battle I’d still tilt toward Nunes. Amanda Nunes by decision.

Bissell: I’m being a romantic with my pick, but the story of another Mexican champ being crowned in 2023 is just too darn good for me not to pick/root for here at UFC 289. I know that on past performances, Nunes has Aldana beat by the numbers, the opponents she has beaten and just how ferocious has she has looked for the lion’s share of her career. However, if I need to find a reason to pick Aldana here, I’m going to say that I think she’s catching Nunes at the right time.

I don’t think Nunes is going to be around much longer. She’s the same age as Aldana, but she’s had more fights and she’s also achieved a lot more, leaving her with really nothing left to prove in the sport. Aldana has everything to prove and I think that could spur her on to catch Nunes here. Irene Aldana by TKO

Staff picking Nunes: Lucas, Jack, Stephie, Dayne, Ben, Zane, Eddie, Anton
Staff picking Aldana: Kristen, Bissell, Chris, Victor

UFC 289 pre-fight press conference with Amanda Nunes and Irena Aldana.

Charles Oliveira vs. Beneil Dariush

Anton Tabuena: As a fan, I really hope this goes to the ground, and I get to see how their contrasting grappling styles play out. Going to my actual prediction though, and I think Dariush has to have a proper approach and game plan, and do everything perfect in order to win. I can see avenues for victory for Dariush, but I think Oliveira is just flat out the better fighter between the two. Charles Oliveira by club and sub.

Victor: Another fight where conventional wisdom should lead me to pick one person, but I’m going the other way. Dariush has great wrestling and heavier striking with deadly accuracy. That doesn’t mean I’m going to out out Chucky Olives. His submission game is still great and he can spring a trap from anywhere, plus he has deceptive strength in both his clinch and striking. Biggest thing working against him at UFC 289 is the fact that he’s never won in Canada. Charles Oliveira by submission.

Zane: I hate picking this fight. On the one hand, I really do think that Dariush’s combination of highly technical, scrambling grappling, tirelessness, and willful aggression standing is a perfect recipe to drag Oliveira into a dog fight, tire him out, and eventually get the TKO.

June 8, 2023: VANCOUVER, CA - JUNE 08: (L-R) Charles Oliveira and Beneil Dariush talk to each other after the UFC 289 press conference, PK, Pressekonferenz at Rogers Arena on June 08,2023, in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada - ZUMAp175 20230608_zsa_p175_047 Copyright: xTomazxJrx
Charles Oliveira and Beneil Dariush before UFC 289. IMAGO/ZUMA Wire

On the other hand, I can absolutely clearly see Dariush walking in on Oliveira with a slower, less nuanced version of Gathje’s striking game and getting collar-tied and uppercutted into oblivion. I’ll lean Dariush, because I think the effectiveness of what he’s doing has more likelihood of winning out over multiple rounds. But the first 5 minutes of this fight will likely be pure chaos. Beneil Dariush via TKO, round 3.

Chris: It’s so rare for a fighter to win the title, lose it, and then be able to withstand the next generation’s onslaught of title contenders. Even though visually it looks like Benny will be the old guard, he’ll be the one sniping poor Charles on his was to a promised title shot that never comes to fruition

Bissell: I’m a little surprised by all the picks for Dariush here. I think it’s a wash in the grappling department with these two, which usually means we aren’t going to see much grappling in the actual fight. And I think Olivieira is the more dynamic, albeit less disciplined, striker. I think he’ll use his range to stay ahead of Dariush, maybe hurt him, and then use his grappling defensively when Dariush gets sick of standing in front of him. On the ground, I think Oliveira could get a slick reactive submission, but is more likely to just stay out of trouble and work back towards a kickboxing match. Charles Oliveira by decision.

Eddie: First off, this is UFC 289’s people’s main event. Two elite dogs are about to get into a firefight, so I gotta go with Darisuh on account of him being more durable than the former champ. I expect a wild war, but I see Beneil catching Charles with a haymaker and then pounding him out on the ground. Beneil Dariush by KO, round 2.  

Staff picking Oliveira: Lucas, Jack, Ben, Victor, Bissell, Anton
Staff picking Dariush: Stephie, Dayne, Kristen, Chris, Zane, Eddie

Mike Mallott vs. Adam Fugitt

Victor: Been on the Malott train since I saw him in World Series Of Fighting. Yes, I’m old. And I’ll bite you too, goddamnit. Mike Malott by TKO.

Chris: of course I’m picking Mike Mallott, UFC PPV staple. 

Zane: My big worry for Adam Fugitt is still just how poorly he seems to react to getting hit hard. The body language is not there for long term success fighting at this level. Add in that Mike Mallott seems to hit very hard and it seems like this will be a good fight for Mallott. Mike Mallott via TKO, round 1.

Bissell: This is a steep drop off in card quality, huh? I get it, Mallott’s a Canadian. But he’s from Ontario, so his flight to BC is probably as long as Charles Oliveira’s. I’m not sold on him as a contender, but I think he’s been given a gimme here. Mike Mallott by TKO.

Staff picking Mallott: Lucas, Jack, Stephie, Dayne, Kristen, Ben, Bissell, Chris, Victor, Zane, Eddie, Anton
Staff picking Fugitt:

Dan Ige vs. Nate Landwehr

Victor: Dan’s just got more polish with his striking and more dynamic movement. Plus he can work well off his back, so he’s not worried about Nate’s wrestling. Hawaiian excellence will be on display in Vanco. Dan Ige by TKO.

Chris: I’m going with experience over chaos. 

January 14, 2023, Las Vegas, NV, LAS VEGAS, NV, United States: LAS VEGAS, NV - JANUARY 14: Dan Ige and Damon Jackson meet in the octagon for a 3-round bout at UFC Apex for UFC Fight Night - Vegas 67 - Strickland vs Imavov - Event on January 14, 2023 in Las Vegas, NV, United States. Las Vegas, NV United States - ZUMAp175 20230114_zsa_p175_087 Copyright: xLouisxGrassex
Dan Ige who faced Nate Landwehr at UFC 289. IMAGO/ZUMA Wire

Zane: There was a moment, not long ago, when people were pretty down on Dan Ige. A string of losses had taken the shine off his promising run into the division’s elite. But as his fight with Damon Jackson showed, Ige has been consistently improving all the way through and is a solid cut above most rank-and-file featherweight competition. I think that should include Landwehr too. Ige should be faster, the bigger puncher, and the better grappler. As long as he doesn’t let Landwehr’s pace gas him out, he’ll have a lot of opportunities to get good work done. Dan Ige via KO, round 1.

Bissell: My pick is mostly based on Landwehr’s gas tank here. He seems like one of those guys who is just a nightmare assignment for his opponent, due to his inability to slow down and let you take a brather. Dan Ige is no slouch, but I’ve seen him tire before. If he can’t get Landwehr out of their quickly, I think a lot of people might be surprised by the outcome. Nate Landwehr by decision.

Eddie: A stoppable force in Nate ‘The Train’ is about to meet an immovable object in Dan Ige. Dan Ige by club & sub (right cross to RNC) at 1:16 of round 1.  

Staff picking Ige: Lucas, Jack, Stephie, Dayne, Kristen, Ben, Chris, Victor, Zane, Eddie, Anton
Staff picking Landwehr: Bissell

Eryk Anders vs. Marc-Andre Barriault

Victor: This is a rough one. I guess i’ll go with Barriault even though Anders is a more explosive athlete. They’ll both probably gas out. Marc-Andre Barriault by decision.

Zane: Both these guys have improved a whole hell of a lot over the past several years, just, not necessarily in obvious ways. For Anders, he was exceptionally raw when he came to the UFC, and his progression has largely been built around learning how to strike with natural fluidity so that he can work in volume. At one point, he struggled to even pull the trigger on one punch at a time. Now he’s throwing 2-3 punch combos with ease. Couple that with his great power and physicality and it instantly makes him a much more dangerous opponent.

For Barriault, he was clearly very used to being the bully with a wall-n-maul style on the regionals. But his physicality hasn’t counted for nearly as much at the UFC level, forcing him to have to turn toward pace fighting instead. These days it feels like Barriault is out to throw as much volume as he can to overwhelm his opposition, even while they get to land clean on him. I think I’ll lean just a little toward Anders in that fight right now. I think he’s just too strong and too powerful for Barriault to get away with being busy as his first line of offense. Eryk Anders by decision.

Bissell: I’m on Anders here because I just think he does more and that activity will either look good to the judges or leave an opening for him to land something heavy on Barriault. Eryk Anders via TKO.

Staff picking Anders: Jack, Bissell, Zane
Staff picking Barriault: Lucas, Stephie, Dayne, Kristen, Ben, Chris, Victor, Eddie, Anton

January 14, 2023, Las Vegas, NV, LAS VEGAS, NV, United States: LAS VEGAS, NV - JANUARY 14: (R-L) Sean Strickland controls the body of Nassourdine Imavov in their 5-round bout at UFC Apex for UFC Fight Night - Vegas 67 - Strickland vs Imavov - Event on January 14, 2023 in Las Vegas, NV, United States. Las Vegas, NV United States - ZUMAp175 20230114_zsa_p175_022 Copyright: xLouisxGrassex
Nassourdine Imabov. IMAGO/ZUMA Wire

Nassourdine Imavov vs. Chris Curtis

Victor: I hate picking against The Action Man, but I have a hunch Imavov is gonna have some moments here. Nassourdine Imavov by decision.

Zane: It could very well be that Imavov’s size and length will be a huge problem for Curtis, much the way that it was against Hermansson, with the ‘Joker’ keeping Curtis at bay all fight with a backfoot, lowkick & jab striking game. The problem for Imavov, however, is that he tends to be a fighter who prefers physical domination to elusiveness and doesn’t particularly like playing the matador…

To read the rest of our UFC 289 staff picks head on over to Substack. Now that Bloody Elbow is a fully independent site the best way to support us, so that we can continue fearless coverage of combat sports, is to pick up a paid subscription. Paid subscribers help fund other exclusive content like editorials from Karim Zidan and Jonathan Snowden and investigations by John S. Nash.

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Leader board

Anton had surged into second last week, but unfortunately our managing editor has dropped back after batting .500 at UFC Fight Night: Kara-France vs. Albazi. His loss is Eddie’s gain, though. He’s jumped back up to second to give Dayne his closest challenge. Last week was great for Zane, who went 9-3 and jumped up two places into fourth.

PositionStafferCorrectIncorrectTotal Picks%Picks BackWeek 17 Record
1 (-)Dayne131862170.6047-5
2 (▲1)Eddie129882170.59428-4
3 (▼1)Anton127902170.58546-6
4 (▲2)Zane121962170.558109-3
5 (-)Stephie120862060.583117-5
6 (▼2)Kristen120972170.553116-6
7 (-)Bissell1081092170.498237-5
8 (-)Lucas1041002040.510275-7
9 (-)Chris1011062070.488306-6
10 (-)BE Community69581270.543626-5
11 (-)Victor69641330.519626-6
12 (-)Jack5141920.554806-6

Join a UFC 289 live chat with Zane Simon, hosted on our official Substack page, right here!

About the author
Tim Bissell
Tim Bissell

Tim Bissell is a writer, editor and deputy site manager for Bloody Elbow. He has covered combat sports since 2015. Tim covers news and events and has also written longform and investigative pieces. Among Tim's specialties are the intersections between crime and combat sports. Tim has also covered head trauma, concussions and CTE in great detail.

Tim is also BE's lead (only) sumo reporter. He blogs about that sport here and on his own substack, Sumo Stomp!

Email me at tim@bloodyelbow.com. Nice messages will get a response.

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