The UFC is back in action in a big way on Saturday night with UFC 289: Nunes vs. Aldana, a stacked card headlined by a women’s bantamweight title fight between Amanda Nunes and Irene Aldana.
The show also marks the company’s return to Canada for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic. It is scheduled to take place at Rogers Arena in Vancouver, B.C., Canada.
Fight fans can catch UFC 289: Nunes vs. Aldana streaming live on ESPN+ for the early prelims beginning at 7 p.m. ET/4 p.m. PT. The televised prelims will continue on ESPN+ in addition to ESPN, with the pay-per-view portion of the event (purchasable on ESPN+) set to get underway at 10 p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT.
UFC Women’s Bantamweight Championship — Nunes vs. Aldana
Nunes is the most dominant champion in UFC history, having first acquired the bantamweight title in 2016 and the featherweight title in 2018. She faced a tough setback at the end of 2021 when she dropped the bantamweight crown to Julianna Pena, but got her revenge on Pena last year and was originally scheduled to meet Pena in the main event of Saturday’s show. However, an injury forced Pena out of the bout two months ago, paving the way for a hungry first-time challenger in Aldana to step in.
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Aldana is a rising star in the division who is never one to count out thanks to her power and finishing ability. Though she has been a member of the UFC roster since 2016, Aldana had her breakout moment in 2019 when she knocked out women’s bantamweight contender Ketlen Viera in stellar fashion. She has fought just three times since, but has been a winner in each of her last two and most recently beat Macy Chiasson with an upkick livershot TKO.
Aldana’s best chance to will be stand with the champion and hope her equalizing power is able to leave an impression early and often. While Nunes figures to have a decided grappling edge, she likely will not be able to, nor want to make this fight a wrestling match as her cardio typically holds up best when striking. Therefore, it will be on the champion to mix in opportune takedowns in hopes of finishing Aldana on the ground, which is easily the Mexican’s weakest area of her game.
Co-Main Event — Oliveira vs. Dariush
One of the most compelling fights of the night lies in UFC 289’s co-main event. Former UFC lightweight champion Charles Oliveira returns for the first time since dropping his title to Islam Makhachev, and will have a tough test in front of him in Beneil Dariush. Both men competed at UFC 280. While Oliveira came up short against Makhachev, Dariush dominated Mateusz Gamrot, one of the division’s top grapplers, and showed he could be the man to give Makhachev a run for his money.
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The two accomplished mixed martial artists will not meet in the co-main event at a neutral site in Vancouver with a title shot a strong possibility for the winner. One thing is for sure: neither man will have any reservations about keeping the fight standing or taking it to the ground. Dariush has shown he can stand and bang with anyone but that the path to least resistance lies in his grappling game. On the flipside, Oliveira has shown similar knockout upside but is one of the most accomplished Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belts in the entire company. How willing will Dariush be to put Oliveira’s black belt to the test, and on the flip side, how does Oliveira see himself winning the fight? Despite being such a recent champion, Oliveira currently finds himself as an underdog to Dariush and will be out to prove the betting public wrong.
Rest of the Card
The main card will be topped off with Canada’s own Mike Malott, one of the brightest Canadian prospects currently employed by the UFC, taking on Adam Fugitt in the featured slot. Fugitt has impressed in limited action, but will deal with a different beast in Malott who has no reservations about throwing caution to the wind.
Another exciting fight set to take place on the main card takes place in the featherweight division. Dan Ige meets Nate Landwehr in a fight that is perhaps the Darkhorse for Fight of the Night honors. Both fighters became quick fan favorites for their performances in heated wars, and both men have shown they can come out better on the other side of those fights. Eryk Anders and Canada’s own Marc-Andre Barriault are scheduled to open the main card in the light heavyweight division.
Some exciting fights to look out for on the prelims include the preliminary main event of Nassourdine Imavov taking on Chris Curtis at middleweight. Both fighters have a combined 22 knockouts between them and will now face off in a fight that is expected to take place primarily on the feet. Imavov most recently fought Sean Strickland, a ranked middleweight in his own right and Curtis’ primary training partner, so it will be telling to see which fighter benefits most from this previous engagement. Another fight to watch will be David Dvorak vs. Steve Erceg on the early prelims. Erceg is taking the fight on short notice, but is tall and long for the division and as technical of a wrestler as there is in the weight class. However, Dvorak has shown sound takedown defense, so Saturday could be “feast or famine” for “Astro Boy.”
As always, fights are subject to change at a moment’s notice, so be sure to keep it locked in to MMASucka for up-to-the-minute updates.
UFC 289: Nunes vs. Aldana Results
Amanda Nunes def. Irene Aldana via Unanimous Decision (50-44, 50-44, 50-43)
Charles Oliveira def. Beneil Dariush via TKO (strikes) at 4:10 of Round 1
Mike Malott def. Adam Fugitt via Submission (Guillotine) at 1:06 of Round 2
Dan Ige def. Nate Landwehr via Unanimous Decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28)
Marc-Andre Barriault def. Eryk Anders via Unanimous Decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
Nassourdine Imavov vs. Chris Curtis ends in a No-Contest (Accidental Headbutt) at 3:04 of Round 2
Jasmine Jasudavicius def. Miranda Maverick via Unanimous Decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
Aiemann Zahabi def. Aoriqileng via Knockout (Left Hook) at 1:04 of Round 1
Kyle Nelson def. Blake Bilder via Unanimous Decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)
Steve Erceg def. David Dvorak via Unanimous Decision (29-28, 29-28, 30-27)
Diana Belbita def. Maria Oliveira via Unanimous Decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)