October 4, 2023

Best game for Charles Oliveira against Beneil Dariush

The lightweight bout between Charles Oliveira and Beneil Dariush is by far the most fascinating and potentially exciting combination on Saturday’s UFC 289 card. Oliveira lost his championship to Islam Makhachev in Abu Dhabi, UAE, in October and is fighting for the first time since then. He is a world class grappler with elite strikes. Dariush is also a world-class grappler whose hitting power has been improved to the point where he has become a legitimate title contender.

This fight should tear the roof off the Rogers Arena in Vancouver, British Columbia. Oliveira’s fights almost never go the distance. He is 33-9 with one no contest. He has had 30 of his 33 wins, 21 of which were by submission and nine by knockout. He has only won three by decision. Of his nine losses, he was knocked out four times, submitted four times, and lost by decision once.

Dariush is also a finisher, but not at Oliveira’s pace. He’s 22-4-1 and he’s had 13 of his 22 wins, including eight by submission and five by KO. He’s done with all his losses, he’s been kayoed three times and submitted once.

That’s why “No” is such a big favorite on the “Will the fight go the distance?” gag bet. No is -330 and Yes is +225.

Oliveira’s experience against elite opponents gives him the slightest edge, which is why I want him to win. Dariush is a favorite at -145, so I’ll take Oliveira at +125. It feels like a bargain to get an ex-champ who recently had an 11-fight winning streak that ended in plus money.

This is the fight of Dariush’s life and there is no doubt that he will be prepared. They’re both good at defending submission and so this could be a fight where it’s wise to go against the grain. Everyone and their brother expect a submission, and while it’s likely given their track record, you have to pay for it.

But this is a three round fight not a five round fight and that makes a difference. Over 2.5 laps is +170 and while I think it’s going to be long, I’m going for better plus money. I take Oliveira to victory at +700. I don’t expect either guy to shy away from it and go for broke with so much depending on the outcome, including a possible title shot.

So I think Oliveira to win at +125 and Oliveira to decide at +700 is the way to go.

‘Action Man’ a handsome underdog

Chris “Action Man” Curtis is a +135 underdog in his bout with Nassourdine Imavov in the featured prep fight. Imavov is -155 and that seems way too high.

Curtis is coming off an action packed defeat in a Fight of the Night bout with Kelvin Gastelum, a fight he could have won. Imavov comes from being shot by Curtis’ teammate, Sean Strickland.

Curtis is a more versatile and dynamic striker and Imavov has been disappointing lately. I take the plus money and play Curtis to win with +135.

Belbita has lead in critical match with Oliveira

Diana Belbita and Maria Oliveira will open the show Saturday in a women’s strawweight bout that will be crucial to both fighters’ futures. Neither has been impressive in their UFC stints and the loser will likely be dropped. Oliveira is 1-2 in the UFC coming after a unanimous decision loss to Vanessa Demopoulos. Belbita has lost three of her four UFC fights, winning only Hannah Goldy while losing to Gloria de Paula, Liana Jojua and Molly McCann.

Prior to her 1-3 stint in the UFC, Belbita was 5-1 in her last six on the regional circuit, and she faced the stiffer competition.

Belbita is a -120 favorite, with Oliveira on even money. I put the 120 and take Belbita to win. I was tempted to play Belbita to win by submission at +900, but she’s too inconsistent and I’ll avoid that. But it’s something to look for in this fight.

VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA – JUNE 08: (L-R) Opponents Amanda Nunes of Brazil and Irene Aldana of Mexico face off during the UFC 289 press conference at Rogers Arena on June 8, 2023 in Vancouver, British Columbia.  (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

UFC bantamweight champion Amanda Nunes is a -320 favorite to retain her title in her main event matchup against Irene Aldana on Saturday. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

Nunes should retain title vs. Aldana

In the main event, Amanda Nunes is a firm favorite over challenger Irene Aldana. Nunes is -320 to win and Aldana is +265.

While there’s a growing sense that Nunes is comfortable with her huge success, I don’t get that feeling from her. I think she’s eager to make a statement and win this fight by a long shot.

The easy choice would be to take Nunes by KO, and you could get her at +110 there. But Aldana also has a great offensive game and could force the fight to the ground. I think Nunes is the better fighter on the ground and while she’s not really chasing submissions, it’s not out of the question that she could be in a position to subdue Aldana.

Nunes per finish is -500, so I put half a unit on that and take her to win per finish.

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