The final Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) title fights of 2021 go down inside T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada, this Saturday (Dec. 11, 2021) when Charles Oliveira and Amanda Nunes put their titles on the line against veteran challengers Dustin Poirier and Julianna Pena. The “Sin City” crowd will also get to enjoy a Welterweight slugfest between Santiago Ponzinibbio and Geoff Neal, Cody Garbrandt’s Flyweight debut opposite Kai Kara-France, and a potentially brutal opener between Sean O’Malley and Raulian Paiva.
What Went Wrong at UFC Vegas 45?
I’ll own up to blowing the Chris Gruetzemacher and Brad Riddell picks — I overestimated the former and underestimated the latter. That said, Alonzo Menifield absolutely won that fight, and the judges stole both that win and my ability to capitalize on calling Jamahal Hill’s upset. Vince Morales and Cheyanne Vlismas staunched the bleeding, but it’s another disappointing week overall.
UFC 269 Odds For The Undercard:
Josh Emmett (-165) vs. Dan Ige (+145)
Pedro Munhoz (-120) vs. Dominick Cruz (EVEN)
Augusto Sakai (-110) vs. Tai Tuivasa (-110)
Bruno Silva (-365) vs. Jordan Wright (+280)
Miranda Maverick (-135) vs. Erin Blanchfield (+115)
Andre Muniz (-135) vs. Eryk Anders (+115)
Alex Perez (-335) vs. Matt Schnell (+260)
Ryan Hall (-200) vs. Darrick Minner (+170)
Randy Costa (-180) vs. Tony Kelley (+155)
Gillian Robertson (-400) vs. Priscila Cachoeira (+300)
Thoughts: Honestly, there’s a whole lot to work with here. I like the looks of Dominick Cruz, Tai Tuivasa, Bruno Silva, Ryan Hall, Randy Costa and Gillian Robertson.
Pedro Munhoz can punch, he can grapple, and he can kick like a mule. What he can’t do is cut off the cage to save his life, which allowed Aljamain Sterling to run circles around him and a fading Frankie Edgar to edge out a competitive decision. For all his injuries and other misfortunes, Cruz’s footwork remains among the best in the division, meaning Munhoz stands little chance of actually landing enough of his killer low kicks to make a difference.
In short, go big on “The Dominator.”
You can’t definitively say that Tuivasa’s fixed his lingering flaws when the three opponents he smashed were so limited, but this really looks like a winnable fight for him. Augusto Sakai has long relied on his durability to make up for his lack of speed, and his recent knockout loss to Jairzinho Rozenstruik suggests that said durability may be waning. Sakai also ostensibly lacks the wrestling to exploit Tuivasa’s poor ground game, so I say the Aussie’s worth a look.
Jordan Wright almost exclusively wins by first-round knockout and has been stopped twice. Bruno Silva is virtually indestructible, hits like a truck and has defeated far superior opposition than “The Beverly Hills Ninja.”
I think the choice is clear.
I’d ordinarily stay far, far away from betting on a Ryan Hall fight, but Darrick Minner is one of the only men in the Featherweight division with the boldness to pursue a grappling match no matter how credentialed his opponent. We saw it against Herbert Burns and we’ll almost assuredly see it here. Considering the eight submission losses on his record, Hall should find another quick finish.
Randy Costa’s another fighter I usually like to stay away from just because of his boom-or-bust style. This looks a whole lot like a boom, though. That’s because Tony Kelley’s poor defense makes him a prime target for “The Zohan’s” sledgehammer punches and kicks. In a clash of karate stylists, I’ll take the one who can reliably knock people’s heads off.
It’s fairly clear at this point that Priscila Cachoeira can’t grapple. The mediocre Gina Mazany had zero issues taking her down before her gas tank inexplicably emptied, and Gillian Robertson is an exponentially superior wrestler and submission artist than “Danger.” Combine that with consistently strong cardio and you’ve got what looks like a guaranteed parlay stuffer.
You can probably add Alex Perez to the pile as well. He’s got the volume punching and low kicks to batter Matt Schnell on the feet, plus the wrestling prowess to either keep it there or rack up top control of his own.
UFC 269 Odds For The Main Card:
Dustin Poirier (-155) vs. Charles Oliveira (+135)
Amanda Nunes (-900) vs. Julianna Pena (+600)
Santiago Ponzinibbio (-125) vs. Geoff Neal (+105)
Cody Garbrandt (-135) vs. Kai Kara-France (+115)
Sean O’Malley (-300) vs. Raulian Paiva (+235)
Thoughts: Charles Oliveira, Santiago Ponzinibbio and Kai Kara-France are all worth a look.
Poirier has been nothing but laudable these last few years, taking on elite Lightweight after elite Lightweight and almost always taking them apart. One thing’s still missing, though, and that’s takedown defense. I’m not basing that on his loss to Khabib, to be clear, I’m basing it on the four takedowns he gave up to Dan Hooker. “Do Bronx” has quietly become one of the more potent takedown artists at Lightweight, easily grounding the likes of Michael Chandler, and he doesn’t need to spend much time on the ground to end things.
In other words, give me the champ as an underdog.
Neal has looked mediocre for two straight fights and recently got arrested for a DWI during training camp (details here). There really aren’t a lot of intangibles going “Handz of Steel’s” way, even with Ponzinibbio’s knockout loss to Li Jingliang still dangling over the “Argentine Dagger.”
I just trust Ponzinibbio to execute a hell of a lot more than I trust Neal.
Is Kai Kara-France as devastating as his City Kickboxing peers? No. Is he a legitimately dangerous and durable striker going up against a notoriously fragile Bantamweight making his first cut to 125 pounds? Yes. It’s not the guaranteed mugging the proposed Figueiredo-Garbrandt fight was, but signs still point to “No Love” getting starched again.
UFC 269 Best Bets:
- Parlay — Dominick Cruz and Bruno Silva: Bet $150 to make $232.50
- Parlay — Tai Tuivasa and Ryan Hall: Bet $120 to make $223.20
- Parlay — Randy Costa and Santiago Ponzinibbio: Bet $120 to make $216
- Parlay — Charles Oliveira and Gillian Robertson: Bet $150 to make $291
- Parlay — Alex Perez and Kai Kara-France: Bet $120 to make $214.80
UFC 269 is a helluva card, genuinely PPV-worthy. And we hope you’ll join us for it. See you Saturday, Maniacs.
Initial (Boosted) Investment For 2021: $600
Current Total For 2021: $1,886.73
Remember that MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC 269 fight card right here, starting with the early ESPN+ “Prelims” matches online, which are scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. ET, then the remaining undercard balance on ESPN/ESPN+ at 8 p.m. ET, before the PPV main card start time at 10 p.m. ET on ESPN+ PPV.
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