UFC 269: Oliveira vs. Poirier Fight Card, TV Info, Predictions and More

Alex Ballentine@Ballentine_AlexFeatured ColumnistDecember 11, 2021

UFC 269: Oliveira vs. Poirier Fight Card, TV Info, Predictions and More

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    Newly crowned lightweight champion Charles Oliveira will put his belt on the line against Dustin Poirier in an epic title fight to anchor the Ultimate Fighting Championship's final pay-per-view card of the year, UFC 269.

    The lightweight division has been in a state of flux since Khabib Nurmagomedov's retirement. The Eagle dropped the belt upon departing, which left the UFC with the responsibility of putting together a title fight.

    With Dustin Poirier engaged in a bout with Conor McGregor, the organization turned to Oliveira and Michael Chandler. The Brazilian extended his winning streak to nine with a TKO win over the former Bellator star and became the first champion of the new era.

    But as the saying goes, the test of a true champion comes in defending the belt. His first opportunity will come against The Diamond, whose only loss over the past five years came against Nurmagomedov.

    The lightweight belt isn't the only one on the line, either. Amanda Nunes will be defending her bantamweight title against Julianna Pena.

    Here's a look at the whole card and a prediction for each big fight on the card.

UFC 269 Fight Card and Odds

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    Main Card (ESPN+ PPV at 10 p.m. ET)

    • Dustin Poirier -160 (wager $160 to win $100) vs. Charles Oliveira (c) +140 (wager $100 to win $140)
    • Amanda Nunes (c) -900 vs. Julianna Pena +600
    • Geoff Neal +110 vs. Santiago Ponzinibbio -130
    • Cody Garbrandt -135 vs. Kai Kara-France +115
    • Sean O'Malley -300 vs. Raulian Paiva +235


    Prelims (ESPN2/ESPN+ at 8 p.m. ET)

    • Josh Emmett -165 vs. Dan Ige +145
    • Dominick Cruz +100 vs. Pedro Munhoz -120
    • Augusto Sakai -110 vs. Tai Tuivasa -110
    • Bruno Silva -365 vs. Jordan Wright +280


    Early Prelims (UFC Fight Pass at 6:15 p.m. ET)

    • Andre Muniz -135 vs. Eryk Anders +115
    • Miranda Maverick -135 vs. Erin Blanchfield +115
    • Ryan Hall -200 vs. Darrick Minner +170
    • Randy Costa -180 vs. Tony Kelley+155
    • Gillian Robertson -400 vs. Priscila Cachoeira +300

    Odds via DraftKings.

Poirier Outboxes Oliveira to Decision Win

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    The odds are pretty tight on this one, and for good reason. Both have proved to be championship-caliber when it comes to skills.

    The easiest part to pick on for Oliveira until recently was his level of competition. Oliveira stacked up his winning streak against the likes of David Teymur, Nik Lentz and Jim Miller. Meanwhile, Poirier has registered wins against Max Holloway, Justin Gaethje and Eddie Alvarez.

    But that argument is getting weaker. With wins over Tony Ferguson and Chandler in his past two bouts, there's no questioning that he has earned his spot among the division's elite. So this is a fight that figures to allow both fighters to have their moments.

    Oliveira's submission game is his greatest strength, but his striking has come a long way. Poirier is an elite striker, but his grappling is often underrated. That being said, this fight will take place at boxing range for enough time that The Diamond will have the edge.


    Prediction: Poirier via decision.

Nunes Outclasses Pena in Rout

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    At this point, most Amanda Nunes fights feel like a rerun. The Lioness' combination of speed, power and technique allows her to overwhelm pretty much every contender who comes her way. There are some who can match her in one of those areas, but rarely two and never three.

    Nunes' winning streak goes all the way back to 2015. It features two weight classes, two championship belts and seven successful defenses. Of those title fights, only three have made it through all five rounds.

    So in walks Julianna Pena. The Venezuelan Vixen hasn't been shy about calling out the champion. And that might be about the only thing that makes this fight interesting.

    Pena has been selling her belief that she can beat Nunes for quite some time, and sometimes in this sport irrational confidence can pay off in big ways. Maybe that's the case Saturday night. Perhaps Pena sees a hole in the champ's game that she can exploit. She has earned a finish in seven of her 10 wins with an even mix of submissions and knockouts.

    But the more likely scenario is that Pena simply understands the best way she could get this fight and the payday that comes with it was to build up the fight. That won't be enough to change the result.


    Prediction: Nunes via decision.

Ponzinibbio Scores Crucial Knockout vs. Neal

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    Santiago Ponzinibbio once looked like he was on a collision course with being a title contender. He was on a seven-fight win streak that included a knockout win over Neil Magny.

    Then came the setbacks. Ponzinibbio had a lengthy bout with a staph infection. Then he had a fight canceled after testing positive for COVID-19. When he finally came back after more than two years away from the Octagon, he was welcomed back with a first-round loss to Li Jingliang.

    His second fight back looked much more promising against Miguel Baeza. He snapped the 29-year-old's 10-fight unbeaten streak with a unanimous-decision win in a Fight of the Night award winner.

    At 34, the margin for error if he hopes to make a run at the title is dwindling. Every time out needs to be a strong performance to keep rising up the welterweight rankings.

    Geoff Neal also needs a win. He hasn't won a fight since December 2019 and has suffered back-to-back losses to Stephen Thompson and Magny.

    Neal is the perfect opponent for Ponzinibbio. He's a brawler himself and loves to exchange in the pocket. He has eight knockout wins in his own right, so this one could be tough to call.

    But when Ponzinibbio is at the top of his game, his powerful striking can be tough to deal with.


    Prediction: Ponzinibbio via first-round TKO.


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