Best bets for UFC 269

December 11, 2021 10:08 AM
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Two world championship bouts highlight Saturday’s UFC 269, the organization’s second-to-last event of 2021. The rest of the card features some well-matched, intriguing fights worth investing in, and yes, I see some dogs worth backing on this slate.

Favorites typically win at a 64-65 percent yearly rate in the UFC, but favorites have realized a whopping 70 percent success rate in 2021. Underdog wagerers must remain patient and selective through these favorite-laden times.

Last week we lost by knockout with Brad Riddell in the co-main event and won via KO with Jamahal Hill + 165. Insight the Octagon profitability 2021: 28-22 + 9.27 units.

CHARLES OLIVEIRA (+ 145) VS. DUSTIN POIRIER (-160)

Lightweight (155 pounds) championship

Poirier has become a household name since defeating Conor McGregor twice this year, and while Poirier is the top-ranked contender, most regard him as the champ. This bout is important for Poirier, who wants to pair the championship belt with the riches and fame he earned from those two fights with McGregor. It all seems wrapped up nicely for him.

Poirier has been in with the elite of the division and has dominated, except for a one-sided loss to then-champ Khabib Nurmagomedov in 2019. He’d won four impressive fights before that and has added Dan Hooker and McGregor pelts to his mantle since.

Poirier at his best is extremely well-rounded. He’s large for the weight class and has deft striking, solid grappling, wrestling and is as tough and determined as any athlete on the roster. The fact that he’s a southpaw adds more complexity to his arsenal.

Oliveira and fight fans everywhere realize that the interim championship he won against Michael Chandler in May only gave Oliveira the right to face Poirier on Saturday to determine the legitimate champion of the lightweight division.

Oliveira is an underappreciated fighter. Some years ago, he toiled, struggled and bounced between two divisions trying to find himself. He even picked up a “quitter” reputation that he has since completely overcome.

Oliveira is the taller, longer man, and his length, quickness, striking accuracy and third-degree black belt in BJJ will challenge the physically thicker Poirier. Look no further than Poirier’s relatively lackluster performance against the long, lanky Hooker to envision the jeopardy Oliveira will present to Poirier.

Oliveira is well aware that really owns no title until this bout with Poirier is settled. The apex of his career lies ahead, and we can rely on his 100 percent focus, determination and effort.

For Poirier, this has been a huge year.

He earned the riches and fame that he so yearned for when he beat the charade that is McGregor twice. He’s successfully created and funded a dynamic charity in Louisiana for underprivileged children, which is admirable but surely takes some mental energy to pioneer.

Add to those distractions the fact that this is Poirier’s third five-round championship title fight camp this year. I can’t help but believe that Poirier’s performance will be affected by all of this on Saturday.

Two mentally draining and physically taxing camps then the actual bouts … against an icon like McGregor now backed up with a third camp against an opponent far more versed and dangerous than the one-dimensional McGregor.

Poirier opened -150 for this fight. He is now -160, and his price is rising. I believe Poirier is the recipient of recency bias. 

It’s my judgment that one is paying a hefty tax considering Poirier at this price and in this situation.

Oliveira + 145

I’ll take a unit now and if it goes up, I’ll take another. I am not unwilling to invest 2 units on Do Bronx.

Total in this fight: 1.5 Over -180. … The Over opened -130. I’ll look to consider the Over priced only with 2.5/3.5 rounds in order to obtain a more favorable plus price.

AMANDA NUNES (-900) VS. JULIANNA PENA (+ 600)

Women’s bantamweight (135 pounds) championship

Champion Nunes shares the title of most dominant women's mixed martial artist of all time with Valentina Shevchenko, if you ask me.

Nunes, who also owns the featherweight (145) title, has basically cleaned out two divisions in the UFC, though this is her first bout at bantamweight since 2019. Nunes has earned a brown belt in Judo, a black belt in BJJ and she’s a most powerful striker who is also gifted on the ground.

Pena, the “Venezuelan Vixen,” arrives on a one-fight winning streak! Yes, she was awarded this bout after a one-sided win over Sara McMann. In her previous bout, she was finished by Germaine de Randamie, who, by the way, was dominated by Nunes in 2019.

Pena has decent striking ability, but she won’t want to stand with Nunes. Her only path to victory will be to try to bum-rush Nunes, fight crazy, then take Nunes to the canvas for a grappling exposition.

If Pena has the tough-mindedness, wrestling, strength and cardio to get this bout to the floor, she’ll have a chance to compete. Shy of that, this bout sets up to be an exhibition, assuming Nunes has no issues with weigh-ins.

Total in this fight 1.5 Over -110.

SANTIAGO PONZINIBBIO (-125) VS. GEOFF NEAL (-105)

Welterweight (170 pounds)

Fourteenth-ranked Ponzinibbio was once the hottest fighter in the division, having won seven straight fights. After a hiatus to recover from injury, his place had been taken by new faces/talent in the division, and his talent had waned.

His victory over Miguel Baeza Ponzi solidified him as a top-15 combatant, and his goal is to return immediately to the top five for a shot at the title. He is a black belt in BJJ and employs a volume-based striking attack that is based on power kicks, strikes and elbows. At 35, Ponzinibbio has little time to waste and knows this fight is the most important in his career.

Neal hit the UFC with a frenzy, winning his first five bouts before lackluster performances when he stepped up in talent to face Stephen Thompson and Neil Magny. In each fight, Neal underperformed and seemed to struggle.

On Thanksgiving, Neal was arrested on charges of driving while intoxicated and unlawfully carrying a weapon and spent the holiday in the slammer. I don’t see how being arrested during a fight camp for these kinds of charges can help a fighter perform.

This bout started out pick-’em, and Ponzi money is finally appearing. It’s funny how little attention the UFC gets during football season as this news was out several days ago and should have affected the price of this bout sooner than it did.

Total in this fight: 1.5 rounds. Over -145.

There are several other bouts worthy of investment on this card. Look for me on VSiN programming through the week as well for a final synopsis of my releases for this card on Gamblou's 'Bout Business MMA Podcast.

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