Best bets for UFC 289: Nunes vs. Aldana

By Lou Finocchiaro and Reed Kuhn  ( 

June 10, 2023 05:15 PM

Summer is for fighting. With the NBA and NHL amidst their finals, action-seeking sports fans will have few options outside the Octagon until the NFL returns. That should mean the UFC will relish the spotlight and put on bigger cards with more stars after a lackluster spring.

In the month of June, we get two ESPN cards, one network card on ABC, and UFC 289 this week. And that’s all before the big July cards kick in. The busy schedule is more than fun for fans, and it offers more opportunities to look for betting value.


Amanda Nunes (champion) -350 vs. Irene Aldana +260

Women's Bantamweight (135 pounds) Championship | Main Event


Finocchiaro:  Amanda Nunes is an accomplished enough athlete that even the public is aware of her merits to the sport and her dominance in the bantamweight and featherweight divisions.

Nunes is extremely large for bantamweight, but her size is less impressive than her BJJ acumen, her fight arsenal, her ability to use footwork to set up her striking game and her natural raw punching power.

Except for her battles with Valentina Shevchenko, few women in Nunes’ weight class can take her into the deep waters of a fight.

In Mexican athlete and fifth-ranked Irene Aldana, we have a fighter who is mentally prepared to enter the cage and engage in battle with Nunes but one who does not have the versatility of fight weaponry, experience or caliber of opponent faced to compete with Nunes effectively beyond three rounds.

Aldana’s toughness of mind and her sturdy boxing base, as well as the winning culture in her dynamic gym, will prepare her to offer a terrific effort against Nunes.

Unless Nunes has a poor day on fight day or a late-night party the night prior to this bout, her dominance will be on display throughout this bout. Though Aldana is durable, tough and willing, the singularity of her fighting approach will not allow her to compete with Nunes for five rounds as I handicap it.

Pass for now.

Kuhn: The women’s GOAT returns, and at a price in the -350 range, it almost feels like a bargain. Nunes is typically priced aggressively, but an aberrant and sloppy performance against Jessica Pena in 2021 proved she is mortal. Now looking for a new challenge after her dominant redemption win over Pena, Nunes still has plenty of gas in the tank.

Aldana has been a fighter I’ve backed occasionally, but her last appearance against Macy Chiasson had a Hail Mary aspect to it, stealing a late victory off of a fluky body strike. Hardly a performance that would guarantee a title shot, but here we are. On paper, she’s a willing and competent striker but has minimal ground game. And that opens up Nunes’s best path to victory.

Nunes can hang with Aldana on the feet and likely do more damage over time. But eventually, this will hit the ground, and Nunes will be all over that opportunity. You can throw Nunes into parlays or round robins. A Nunes inside-the-distance play makes her more affordable, but don’t get too aggressive on Unders.

Total in this fight: 2.5 Rds over -130


Beneil Dariush -150 vs. Charles Oliveira +130

Lightweight (155 pounds) | Co-Main Event

Finocchiaro: Not only do I regard this as the main event, but this bout is the most intriguing fight in the last several months.

Oliveira is the ex-champion who buzzed through athletes named Chandler, Poirier and Gaethje only to lose his belt in an uncompetitive match against current champion Islam Makhachev last October.

Oliveira is a black belt in BJJ. He’s sizable for the division. He’s got fast, powerful hands, but more importantly, Oliveira is a finisher. Of his UFC record 19 finishes, 13 have come via submission. Despite his dismal performance against Makhachev, Oliveira is a legitimate, well-rounded, pressure fighter who I expect to bounce big time Saturday night.

In Beneil Dariush, we get an understated, humble, everyday man who happens to look more like your neighborhood gardener than the outright assassin he is in the cage. Dariush is roughly the same size and shape as Oliveira though he’s a southpaw and perhaps a bit more reckless in his striking.

Dariush is a black belt in both BJJ and Muay Thai, and he’s surely willing to roll with “Do Bronx” on the dirt provided Charles is willing. Dariush enters this bout having won his last eight UFC fights so he’s confident in a humble sense and focused on one thing. Dariush is surely capable of winning this bout.

Once the fight begins, I believe the BJJ skills of each athlete will dictate that this will be a stand-up fight. That’s where I perceive the Oliveira camp will want to compete as Dariush has shown an ability to eat shots on his way in to throw down, and Oliveira’s striking is more refined and efficient than Dariush’s.

Should this fight go to the floor, then we’re all in for a great watch.  It would be very special to witness these two advanced-level black belts in BJJ rolling and attacking one another on the floor. Not only would it be a special treat but I have no clue what would transpire there which is why it is so compelling!

This bout opened Dariush -125 and has risen to the current pricing. While I believe this is going to be a highly competitive fight, I also believe the skills and fighting acumen of Oliveira are being overlooked to an extent.   

Charles “Do Bronx” Oliveira +135 offers opportunity in my judgment, and the line is slowly rising. I’ll be watching this closely up to and through the weigh-ins.

Total in this fight: 2.5 Rds Under -180


Marc-Andre Barriault -130 vs. Eryk Anders +110

Middleweight (185 pounds)

Finocchiaro: In Barriault, we have a Quebec City athlete who is going to be competing in front of the famously raucous Canadian fight fans. Barriault is a finisher as he’s earned 10 of 15 wins via KO/TKO, and he has one submission on his record.

In Anders, we get a tremendous athlete who came from the ranks of major college football. Anders has great toughness, cardio and grit, but his wrestling is underdeveloped and his striking, while explosive, he lacks fluidity and volume.

Anders has been switching camps recently, and this will be his first bout under the tutelage of the fine leadership at the MMALab.

Once the bell rings for this fight, I look for Anders to press forward and engage while Barriault will attempt to maintain some distance to flush the incoming ex-linebacker with straight jabs, follow-up crosses, hooks and leg kicks.

I believe Barriault is the more complete mixed martial artist fighting against a tremendous athlete, but I’ll side with the mixed martial artist in this one.

In a dirty, grimy, ugly brawl where the total is shaded over 2.5 rounds, I’ll use the decision prop.

Pick: Barriault via decision +175 (DraftKings)

Total in this fight: 2.5 Rds. Over -165


Dan Ige -250 vs. Nate Landwehr +200

Featherweight (145 pounds)


Kuhn: A more affordable favorite (and perhaps a parlay partner for Nunes) would be Featherweight Dan Ige. He’s faced tougher talent for much longer, and yet he’ll be the younger and less damaged fighter against Landwehr.

Both men are accurate strikers on the feet, but Ige boasts far superior power. Landwehr’s busier pace could work against him, as Ige can effectively headhunt in his counters. Landwehr is still a threat on the ground, but Ige’s wrestling and grappling experience has foiled plenty of submissions before, and he’s never been finished once in his career.

Ige might have to fight back to his feet at spots, but expect him to do more damage in the standup exchanges and possibly set up a finish by strikes.


Thank you for reading. Enjoy the fights!

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