We have made it to the final UFC pay-per-view card of the year as UFC 269 takes place this Saturday night at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada. The event features five fantastic main card fights. Below, take a look at our complete main card betting preview for UFC 269.
Main event: Charles Oliveira vs. Dustin Poirier
Oliveira is the UFC lightweight champion, having defeated Michael Chandler earlier this year to claim the vacant belt. An 11-year veteran of the UFC, Oliveira is currently riding a nine-fight win streak and he is in the prime of his career. While he had plenty of struggles earlier in his UFC career, ever since Oliveira moved up to lightweight in 2017 he is a completely different fighter. The owner of the most submissions record in UFC history, Oliveira also has improved his striking skills to transform himself into a truly well-rounded champ at 155lbs.
Poirier has been in the UFC for over a decade, too, and he has also had a similar career path that Oliveira has had. Starting off as a featherweight, Poirier didn’t really hit his stride until he made the move up to lightweight in 2015. Since then, he is 12-2, 1 NC at lightweight. He has defeated some of the best fighters in the world including Conor McGregor, Justin Gaethje, and Max Holloway. Poirier has accomplished almost everything that he can in the sport, but he is missing one thing: an undisputed UFC belt, and he has the chance to win it at UFC 269.
The total rounds for this fight has been set at 2.5, with a slight lean towards the under. Given how potent of finishers both men are, it makes sense to lean towards the under in this fight.
This is going to be an amazing UFC lightweight title fight between two incredible fighters. While it’s not an easy fight to pick by any means, something is telling me Oliveira is going to get his 10th straight win.
As good of a fighter as Poirier is, I still have questions about his takedown defense and his submission defense. 25 minutes is a long time to be in the cage with Oliveira, who gets everyone down to the ground. I think Oliveira is going to put on a show with his grappling in this fight as he gets Poirier down to the ground and chokes him out.
Pick: Charles Oliveira (+140)
Co-main event: Amanda Nunes vs. Julianna Pena
Nunes is the UFC women’s bantamweight and featherweight champion. Since 2014, she has not lost and she has been beating everyone in her path at both 135lbs and 145lbs. Some of the fighters Nunes has defeated include Cris Cyborg, Ronda Rousey, Miesha Tate, Germaine de Randamie, and Holly Holm, just to name a few. Nunes is a powerhouse on the feet, she has strong grappling skills, and she has all the confidence in the world to dominate.
Pena is one of the top contenders at women’s 135lbs. The former “Ultimate Fighter” winner is coming off of a submission win over Sara McMann to get this title shot. Yes, that’s right, a one-fight win streak got her the title shot. That shows you everything you need to know about this division and about this fight. While Pena certainly has good wrestling skills, she has so many holes in her defense both on the feet and on the ground. Unless she is able to lay on top of Nunes for 25 minutes or catch her neck, expect Pena to lose once again at UFC 269.
The total rounds for this fight has been set at 1.5, with a slight lean in the betting line towards the over. Although I do fully expect Nunes to win this fight by stoppage, the over is tempting just because Pena is pretty durable and not easy to put away early in her fights. Given that you just need Pena to survive 7.5 minutes to get over the total, that seems like the way to go here.
Overall, this should be another easy title defense for Nunes. She is better than Pena in every facet of the game and she should be able to get the finish. Nunes can keep this fight standing if she chooses and get the knockout on the feet, or she can fight Pena on the ground and finish her there. Either way, look for Nunes to win another fight inside the distance.
Pick: Amanda Nunes (-900)
Welterweight bout: Santiago Ponzinibbio vs. Geoff Neal
The welterweights go at it when Santiago Ponzinibbio takes on Geoff Neal. Ponzinibbio has won eight of his last nine fights and he is coming off of a decision win over Miguel Baeza in his last outing. That was a big win for the Argentina native, who had been knocked out by Li Jingliang in an upset prior to that. Against Baeza, Ponzinibbio got back to what he does best, and that is keeping his fights standing and picking his opponents apart from the outside. Ponzinibbio is a very good fighter and now that he is healthy, he could be a problem at 170lbs.
The same can be said for Neal, who has gone 5-2 overall in the UFC with four wins by finish. At one point, it looked like Neal was being fast-tracked for a title shot at 170lbs. However, he has since lost two straight fights to Stephen Thompson and Neil Magny. Not only that, but Neal is currently dealing with legal issues stemming from an alleged DWI and gun charges. I’m actually surprised that the UFC kept Neal on the card given his legal issues. On paper, this looks like a very close fight as the Pick ’em odds suggest. Both guys can win given they are excellent strikers, but I think Ponzinibbio can mix things up a little more and win a decision.
Flyweight bout: Cody Garbrandt vs. Kai Kara-France
Making his UFC flyweight debut, former UFC bantamweight champion Cody Garbrandt takes on the always-exciting Kai Kara-France. Garbrandt is coming off of a decision loss to Rob Font in his last fight at 135lbs. After losing four of his last five fights, Garbrandt needed to make a big career move. It will be interesting to see now how he looks down a weight class at 125lbs. Garbrandt was always one of the most powerful and athletic fighters in the bantamweight division, but his chin really let him down. Dropping down in weight, the biggest question for me in this fight is if Garbrandt’s chin will be able to hold up at 125lbs.
Kara-France is one of the best flyweights in the division and he has a big opportunity here against Garbrandt. Coming off of a brutal one-punch KO over Rodrigo Bontorin in his last fight, Kara-France has all sorts of momentum coming into this fight. Remember, this is a guy who went toe-to-toe with the current flyweight champ Brandon Moreno. In what should be a striking-based fight, Kara-France absolutely has a chance to defeat Garbrandt if he can catch him on the chin. Given that he’s an underdog, I’ll take a shot on Kara-France at plus money to knock Garbrandt out for the biggest win of his MMA career. It should be a good one.
Pick: Kai Kara-France +115
Bantamweight bout: Sean O’Malley vs. Raulian Paiva
Kicking off the main PPV card is a bantamweight bout between Sean O’Malley and Raulian Paiva. O’Malley is one of the biggest young stars in the sport of MMA right now. He is only 27 years old and he is already 6-1 in the UFC. In his last two fights, O’Malley knocked out Kris Moutinho and Thomas Almeida and he earned a shot at a ranked opponent. Armed with some of the best standup skills in the UFC bantamweight division, O’Malley is a volume striking machine who has been destroying everyone in his way aside from Marlon Vera. If O’Malley can go in there and pick up the win over Paiva, then he will be a ranked fighter.
Paiva is coming off of a majority decision win over O’Malley’s teammate Kyler Phillips in his last fight. Paiva was a huge underdog in that fight and showed that he is a talented fighter by picking up the win. Prior to that fight, Paiva had competed at flyweight, but he grew out of the weight class. At bantamweight, he seems to have more durability and a better gas tank. This is a young, hungry, and improving fighter who looks good every time he steps into the cage. However, O’Malley is a step up in competition. Although Paiva is being somewhat disrespected by this betting line, I still fully expect O’Malley to get his hand raised here.