UFC 289 Aldana vs. Nunes Breakdown

Twitter: @DadHallOfFamer


They circled above for hours. The pronouncers of death. The desert had claimed another. Human, animal; only the carrion would ever know. Heat waves shimmered, dancing Geishas, above the arid ground, distorting the horizon like funhouse mirrors.

One, two cautionary pecks; the third cut to the bone, spilling blood, still warm, from the gaping wound.

Eyes opened.

The scavengers took flight but didn’t flee. They observed; their prehistoric origins evident in their reptilian affectations. Watching. Waiting.

A desperate gasp for air disturbed the silence. One hand twitched. Then the other. The sun changed position—perhaps, to gain a better view—before she fully gained her feet. Phantom of the Opera, she stood, half of her face hidden behind a mask of dried crimson.

The scavengers smiled, for they knew time was on their side. They remained close by. Overhead. Watching. Waiting.

Which direction should she go?


One, two steps; the third stumbled her, but she remained upright. Her mind pressed onward, dragging her body along, tethered by the thinnest strand of will. Slowly, the landmarks in the distance became distant, and with the miles came clarity, shards of memories hazardous to her mind’s touch.

She remembered them carrying her out, the van waiting in the back, the doors wide open. Then there was darkness; she remembered that too. And the smell, a pungent mixture of swamp ass and McDonald's. She remembered the radio station cutting out, then silence. For what, an hour? Two? An eternity.

Day became night, and unbearable heat was ushered out by the unbearable cold. She scrounged. She dug. She scratched. She clawed. She cursed at the sun. She howled at the moon. She laughed. She cried.

She survived.

Then there was a glow, ever so faint, on the horizon. Was it a mirage? Another one of the desert’s slight of hands? With every step, the glow reached higher into the sky, absolving more of the night’s shroud until the monotonous flatline at the edge of her vision pulsed, the first signs of life provided by the iconic skyline of the city she once ruled.

From her peripheral crept a sign, green with white lettering, that said:

Las Vegas Strip Twenty Miles

She looked up at the buzzards still circling overhead. Watching. Waiting.

"Not today, motherf**kers," she said.

Irene Aldana vs. Amanda Nunes

They left Amanda Nunes for dead after the first Juliana Peña fight. "They," meaning me. I was shocked but not surprised. I always knew she had it in her. That quit. Quitting is like censorship; once you allow a foot in the door, there’s no closing it. Once you allow that psychological barrier to break once, it becomes easier to break a second time, and so on. No amount of mental/physical rehab can restore it to one hundred percent. There will always be a hairline fracture, a minute defect in the structure. I just didn’t think Juliana Peña would be the one to strike a chord that resonated along the fracture’s frequency, causing a total collapse in Amanda Nunes’ psyche and physical will.

The two fights were a lot like Serra vs. GSP. Serra scored an improbable, but not lucky, TKO in the first fight, only to get trounced in the rematch and made to look like the first was a fluke. The difference in the two fights was Nunes’ ingenious implementation of the southpaw stance and the utilization of the check-right hook whenever Peña engaged. Peña looked like she had never seen a goofy footer before, like it was her first rodeo, and she thought it was a petting zoo. "I didn’t know southpaw would be on the test." Her only option was to lean back in her chair and look around the cardboard dividers at her neighbor’s Scantron.

The tactic created a glitch in the matrix, and Juliana found herself in some Inception-type augmented reality where she didn’t know what was real and what wasn’t. Nunes used that southpaw base to add intricate wrinkles to her striking, switching stances mid-combo and mid-exchange. Nunes can use the southpaw stance to expose the same holes in Irene Aldana’s striking. Aldana has the bad habit of turning into Slick Ricky Bobby, a NASCAR driver circling to her left for five hundred laps around the Octagon. That same check-right hook will be Bitcoin in the portfolio all night long for Nunes. The wrinkle I would add if Nunes was training in the Thunderdome (the world-class training facility in my one-car garage) would be the Leon left high kick. Use the check-right hook to coral and direct Aldana into the head kick.

Nunes will have the speed and power advantage on the feet. She also has better movement and generally uses more weapons. But her path to victory will be on the mat. Aldana will pose the biggest threat, maybe the only threat, to Nunes on the feet. If Nunes can get got by Juliana Peña in the stand-up, she sure as hell can get got by Irene Aldana. AND, big and, if Irene Aldana can get dominated on the mat in the second round against Macy Chiasson, she can get dominated on the mat by Amanda Nunes. Amanda has excellent power doubles and sleep paralysis top control. The more you struggle, the harder it seems to get up. In the second Peña fight, Nunes scored six takedowns and logged nearly twelve minutes of top control time. And Nunes averages over two and a half takedowns per fifteen minutes.

Me, Myself & Irene Aldana is one of the best pure boxers in women’s MMA. If this fight stays standing, there is a chance it could look a lot like Alexa Grasso vs. Valentina. Even if Aldana has physical disadvantages on the feet, she has the technical abilities to attack the gaps in Nunes’ striking. Nunes tends to launch long, three-quarter overhands, and Aldana can beat her down the middle with her tight, straight punches. It has also been proven that Amanda can be lured into firefights and prolonged 50/50 exchanges in the pocket. It happened in the Cyborg and first Peña fight. When you land on Nunes, she sees red and has an immediate instinct to get it back. Aldana needs to lure Nunes forward with the jab in multiples while looking to extend combinations in the pocket. Return counters are Aldana’s specialty. She shells up to encourage your offense and unloads counters between your strikes.

The biggest red flag for Aldana’s striking is her unilateral movement. She’s like a CD that skips on your favorite song. Just when she starts looking elusive, creating angles, she falls into circling only to her left. She did it for twenty-five minutes against Holly Holm. Also, she starts off throwing kicks in combination with her hands but forgets about them after the first round. Aldana will have to diversify her attacks with kicks and make them a focal point; you can’t go to war wielding only pistols when the enemy has Abrams, Javelins, and ARs. There is no playing this fight safe. There is no tomorrow. The time is two days before the day after tomorrow.

The key for Aldana will be staying on her feet. She has the President climbing a flight of stairs or walking across a stage takedown defense. Don’t let the career eighty-one percent takedown defense fool you. She's no Kai Kara-France or Belal Muhammad. In her last bout, Macy Chiasson took down Aldana three times and looked to be taking over the fight in the third round before Aldana landed a liver up kick that left Chiasson in the fetal position on the mat with a turtle head poking out. And in Aldana’s only five-round fight, Holly Holm took her down five times. Aldana does have some sneaky submissions, but only when she is in control from the top position, and gaining the top position doesn’t usually happen by design, but rather, the result of a scramble. The mat is lava; Aldana needs to sell out to get back to her feet and go for broke with pressure and volume.

Fantasy-wise, there is a path to a finish for both fighters. Aldana is 14-6 for her career with eight TKO/KOs and three subs. Her left hook is a number one stunna that led to two first-round finishes against Ketlen Vieira and Yana Santos. When Nunes can’t control the pace with occasional takedowns and top control, she has the potential to gas in fights. Aldana will have bookend finishing potential early, during the feeling out process when all attributes are at one hunnid percent, and late when Nunes tends to fade a little. Nunes will have finishing potential on the feet for the duration if she can log some top control. On the mat, Nunes isn’t much of a submission threat, having recorded only one sub since 2016, but she uses top control to salt away the clock and sustain her cardio and power for the duration. An Aldana TKO/KO will return (+575), and a Nunes TKO will return (+130). Nunes will be the (-325) favorite, and Aldana will be the (+260) dog.

The main event-dub streak sits at three after the dead presidents caught Kai Kara-France slipping in the Valero handicap stall and shook him down for his dub over Amir Albazi. I just want to say from the bottom of me heart; I’d like to take this chance to apologize... TO ABSOLUTELY NOBODY! Have my dub ready. Spit shined for me. Die by the robbery, live by the robbery. This one feels much closer than the odds suggest, and I’ve gone back and forth quite a bit. But I’m gonna play it straight up. Amanda Nunes via decision. Put that ish on wax.

Charles Oliveira vs. Beneil Dariush

This shit right here. This one is an absolute banger, and at the heart of it is a grappler vs. grappler matchup featuring the best submission Bob Ross the UFC has ever seen, Charles Oliveira, and the dark horse of all dark horses, Benny Dariush. And for all those who scoff at all the wrastlin’ and rolling around on the ground stuff, these two got something for you too. Both guys have striking as dangerous as their grappling, and no matter where the fight takes place, it is guaranteed to be a firefight, All Quiet on the Western Front trench warfare from start to finish.

Beneil Dariush, aka Bad Ass Jeff Goldblum, has been my long shot at winning the title for a couple years now. Although Charles Oliveira might be a more dangerous grappler, Beneil Dariush is an overall better grappler. Other than Volkanovski, Benny is Islam Makhachev’s worst matchup. Benny can’t be bullied on the mat, and he throws Randy Johnson overhand heaters on the feet. But when it comes to grappling, Benny’s is on some AP Calculus-type ish. It takes a Master's degree to understand the intricacy of Dariush’s Jiu-Jitsu. The key is perpetual movement; you will never see Benny flat on his back. He is always rolling, implementing the upside-down guard, staying on a hip and initiating sweeps, and using sub attempts to reverse position. His jitz is so good he can pick and choose when he uses energy to defend takedowns. There are times when he’ll give up a takedown so he can end up on top. Some reverse psychology-type ish. His sweeps and scrambles are so legit he’ll give you the false sense of security of scoring the takedown just to end up on your back or tied up in Boy Scout knots.

On the feet, Benny is a Gus Fring striker who utilizes only half of his body. He’s all left everything. His power side strikes are deadly; his left hand is a grim reaper scythe whistling dixie through the air, and his left round kick is a battering ram. The left hand will have you shaking tables, turning off and on lights, and ringing bells as a Gypsy woman calls you to the light. His specialty is the same-time Sylvester Stallone Over the Top counter. He times the opponent’s attack and unloads the left hand around the offending strike. Benny’s striking is power based; he lacks technical footwork and movement, but he’s good at managing distance and avoiding extended exchanges in the pocket.

But make no mistake, Benny won’t shy away from the ground game. We often see with two elite grapplers an acknowledged grappling stalemate, and a subsequent kickboxing match ensues. I think both fighters will want to prove their grappling superiority, and this could turn into the grappling version of Michael Chandler vs. Justin Gaethje or Justin Gaethje vs. Anybody. Benny’s value will be two-pronged; the club-and-sub will be in full effect. Dariush can land something heavy and end the fight with strikes or start a fight-ending sequence on the feet and end it on the mat.

Charles Oliveira has always had a little bit of that Amanda Nunes in him. The stigma of being a quitter looked to be a thing in the distant past during Charles’ title run, but it reared its ugly head again against Makhachev. I told you, once you allow a foot in the door... Oliveira got bullied against Makhachev on the feet and on the mat from the jump. Against Poirier and Gaethje and Chandler, Oliveira came out looking like an ass-kicking fiend going through withdrawals in need of a fix. He came forward at all costs and never took a step back. But in the second round against Makhachev, Charles looked like he was flagging down an usher to escort him to an exit. I fought off fiber-deficient doodies harder than Oliveira fought off that arm triangle. Fook it! I’ll just say it: Oliveira gave Makhachev that choke. Oliveira can be broken.

But that doesn’t take away from the fact that Oliveira is the deadliest submission Van Gogh the promotion has ever seen. Charles holds the submission record with sixteen, and the closest to him are Jim Miller and Demian Maia with eleven a piece. He’s probably the best club-and-sub finisher of all time. He did Gaethje, Poirier, and Chandler all like that, and that’s a Green Mile murder’s row if I’ve ever seen one. Oliveira’s M.O. is almost losing every fight he wins. All his fights are Rocky sequels. They start with him getting his ass kicked until the theme music starts playing, and Mick starts yelling, then he turns the tide. And the tide usually starts to turn on the feet.

Oliveira has strict Brazilian Muay Thai, complete with the upright squared stance and stiff, straight punches. He is a distance striker, much like Benny, who uses stabbing teeps and knees to attack the body and establish range. Then he opens up with impaling hands that don’t have a single degree of curve to them. Charles is excellent at initiating from range and finishing inside with knees and elbows from the Thai plum. But his major malfunction is that he has zero head movement. None. Negative head movement. If he had to move his head to save his life... TMZ will be flooding your timeline with breaking news. I think the path to victory for Oliveira is on the feet. His body attacks systematically destroy fighters’ will and make them vulnerable to Oliveira’s every whim. And his value will be hurting Benny on the feet and finishing him on the mat.

I was surprised to see Benny as the (-150) favorite. I don’t check odds until after I’ve made my picks, and I thought I could get plus money for Benny.

Wrong. Wrong- Charlie Murphy voice.

Charles will be the dog of all dogs at (+125), and Charles at plus money is always a steal. He will also be a two-pronged finishing threat and has the championship pedigree that Dariush doesn’t. As a Fantasy option, it isn’t an option; snatch Charles up. He can win this fight. BUT, big but; I ain’t jumping off the Benny train anytime soon. Benny Dariush via decision. On wax.

Mike Malott vs. Adam Fugitt

Who da fook are these guys? Let me be the first to tell you this will be a deep-state undercover banger. Mike Malott might be the best thing from Canada since GSP and Terrance and Phillip. And Adam Fugittaboutit looks like he buys lentils and alfalfa sprouts at farmers' markets on the weekends. But don’t let that fool you. Fuggit is a real-life MMA Rudy, getting one snap in his entire NCAA career and making the most of it. In a dog-eat-dog world, Adam Fuggit could open a Michelin three-star restaurant with every breed on the menu. It’s a metaphor, PETA; chill.

The Ol’ Patrick Bateman-looking Mike Malott will look dead in the camera and flex his biceps while whooping your ass. Malott is a slick striker with a hybrid Karate/boxing style; he uses a bladed Karate stance but has traditional boxing combinations instead of the blitzing in/out hands you see from most fighters who use a Karate stance. Lateral movement is the key to his striking. He stays on his bike on the outside, peppering with side kicks, and unloads with crispy hand combinations. His best quality is his pocket presence. He has that frontline soldier one-thousand-yard stare in the pocket. He stays calm under fire and circles away from danger instead back in straight lines.

But as good as his striking is, Malott is also a Jiu-Jitsu black belt, with five of his noine career dubs coming via submission. The other four dubs came by TKO/KO. That’s a one hundred percent finishing rate, and noine of his eleven career bouts ended in the first round, including his first two UFC bouts and his Contender Series bout. Malott is coming off a first-round destruction of Mickey Gall, in which a counter left hand left Mickey collapsing at free fall speeds. Some say it was a controlled demolition. All that was recovered in the wreckage was Mickey’s perfectly intact Costco club card. Malott’s Fantasy value will be in an early finish. He’s another club-and-sub double threat who can end the fight on the feet or the mat. Fugitt is a grimy wrestler with filthy ground and pound, so I would think Malott will look to keep the fight standing and try to win a 50/50 exchange early.

But that won’t be easy. Adam Fugitt has sneaky dangerous striking. He is long and lanky with a natural curve to his punches that find their way around the guard. He uses long-range rear leg teeps from the outside to establish hand range, then level changes off his attacks. His specialty on the feet is the check counter hook. Sam Alvey, yes, Sam Alvey, had one of the best check hooks in the game, and Fugitt has the same affinity for landing it. But Fugitt is most dangerous on the mat.

Fugitt takes the scenic route to a takedown. Clinch, strike, clinch. He will push you against the cage and break and strike off the breaks and reenter the clinch if the takedown isn’t immediately available; he doesn’t stall. And from the top position, Fugittaboutit. This dude’s ground and pound is heavier than guilt. Malott is a black belt with a dangerous guard, but the best way to neutralize an active guard is with heavy strikes. Fugitt’s top control is stifling; he makes you wear him like a best-in-show Met Gala costume that you can’t take off when they roll up the red carpet.

Fugitt is coming off a big upset dub of Yusaku Kinoshita after losing his short-notice debut against an absolute savage and top prospect Michael Morales. Although he took home the L, Fugitt caused Morales all kinds of problems and made it to the third round against a 13-0 fighter with seven first-round finishes. Fugitt is a dog, and the big question that will be answered is; does Malott have that dog in him too? Fugitt’s path to victory will be dragging Malott into deep waters and breaking him late with heavy ground and pound.

Bring ‘em out! Bring ‘em out! It’s hard to talk with the barrel in your mouth. Fugitt will be the (+170) dog dripping value all over your freshly Swiffer’d floor. His style is grinding and ugly, and Malott (-210) has never been in a grinding scrap over three rounds. I’d be shocked like Marv if Malott finishes Fugitt in the first round. Fantasy-wise, Fugitt will be an excellent middle/low-tier option with a finishing upside. He can rack up top control time with significant strikes, and he’s sneaky good on the feet. Malott’s value will be in a finish under the round and a half mark. A drawn-out affair will heavily favor Fugitt. A Malott TKO/KO will return (+215) and a sub (+200). And Fugitt TKO/KO will return (+400) and a sub (+800). Fook it! Give me the dog. Adam Fugitt via TKO, round three. Wax on, wax off.

Dan Ige vs. Nate Landwehr

My current favorite fighter is Bobby Green, but a close second is Nizzy Nate Landwehr. Nate is Three 6 Mafia riding spinners with platinum fronts in the mouth manifested in a cage. Nate "The Train," or as Colby Covington calls him, Nate "The Matt Hughes Train," is an entertainer and a fighter, in that order. Nate doesn’t simp for a dub; the dub simps for him. Dan Ige will be Nate’s toughest test of his career, a career that was well established before he made it to the UFC when he was an M-1 Global champion. But I must warn Nizzy Nate: Dan Ige is not to be fooked with. Ige is a killer with Acme dynamite in both hands and has shared the Octagon with the highest-level fighters in the game.

Nate Landwehr is a sneaky slick striker with crispy hand combinations and quick, snappy round/snap kicks. He’s a Chito Vera striker who uses all his available weapons from any range, knees and elbows in the clinch and standing at range. The key for Nate on the feet is throwing combinations. When he throws combos and pushes the pace, he causes havoc. When he settles on the outside and attacks with single shots, he isn’t nearly as dangerous. His biggest red flag is his lack of head movement. He has a very upright stance and no head movement and takes a lot of damage because of it. Nate is 4-2 in the UFC, and both losses were early first-round TKO’s. Nate can get got, and when he does, it’s usually early in the fight.

I’m gonna flip the script. I think Nate’s path to victory may be in the clinch and dragging Ige to the mat. Nate has excellent clinch work and underrated grappling. He only has two career subs, but he’s handy with D’arce/Anaconda chokes, and Ige’s weakness is his takedown defense and ground game. Ige has a career fifty-two percent takedown defense and was once taken down noine times in a fight against Movsar Evloev. Nate’s wrestling isn’t anywhere close to Evloev’s, but he’s no chump. But win or lose, Nizzy Nate still has the keys to the city after his trip to my hometown, San Diego, last year. And he’s been jackin’ it in San Diego ever since. He is an adopted son but not no fortunate son. No no. It ain’t Nate, it ain’t Nate. All abooooooard the Nate train.

Dan Ige is a savage and a gentleman. He’s a little Hobgoblin bomb thrower, a Slaughterhouse 5 bomb thrower, with a U.S. foreign policy mentality, bomb first, ask questions later. In many ways, Ige is a gatekeeper for the upper echelon of the featherweight division. If you beat Ige, you gain access to the elite fighters. He’s one of the most technical pocket fighters in the promotion, and his specialty is fighting in close quarters. Ige gets inside and unloads short hooks and his right hand leaves behind nothing but pain and suffering. Against Nate, Ige will have a speed and power advantage on the feet. More importantly, Ige will have a massive experience advantage against elite competition. Ige has been in the Octagon with the best in the division and recently got back in the win column with a second KO of Damon Jackson.

The key for Ige will be lateral movement and avoiding the clinch. He has to make Landwehr move his feet and change directions. Force Nate to chase him and catch Nate out of position. The value for Ige will be an early finish. In a lot of ways, he’s Nate’s kryptonite, a power puncher with quick hands and tight defense. Ige will be the sizeable (-250) favorite, and Nate will be the (+195) Santa’s Little Helper wandering the fairgrounds. Nate can win this fight if he can get inside and make things ugly and implement a ground element. If it stays standing for fifteen minutes, he will lose, and it won’t likely go fifteen minutes. An Ige TKO/KO will return (+165), and a Nate TKO/KO will return (+700) and a sub (+1200). I hate this fight for Nate, but if you want to take a leak on the hydrant with the big dogs, you have to beat the Ige’s of the world. I think I’m gonna simp for the dub. Dan Ige via TKO, round one. Put it on wax.

Marc-Andre Barriault vs. Eryk Anders

Cue: Clipse "Grindin’.

This one will be a filthy little road rage scrap featuring two absolute grinders. Marc-Andre Barriault is the type to get into a fight at church after accusing someone of bogarting the wine. And Eryk Anders is a former NCAA National Champion under Nick Saban who decided foozeball wasn’t violent enough for him, so he became a cage fighter. This will be medieval hand-to-hand, maces and pikes and war hammers, look ‘em in the eyes as they bleed out type-ish.

Marc-Andre Barriault has heavy hands with carrier pigeon hand speed. You have to respect his power on the feet, but he’s most dangerous in the clinch, digging Nolan Ryan uppercuts and slashing Peaky Blinders elbows. He likes to grab the collar tie and dig you out to the body and push you up against the fence. 1950s old man ass whoopins; that’s Marc-Andre's specialty. His style is that of an old-school NHL enforcer who you sic on the other team’s best player. Barriault is 15-6 for his career with ten TKO/KOs and one sub. He’s coming off a second-round son’ing of Julian Marquez, who will be sending Barriault a Hallmark card on June 18.

When Thetis dipped Eryk Anders in the River Styx, Anders’ output was the only part of him left vulnerable. Output has been his Achilles heel, the thorn in his side, for most of his career. He has always had KO power in his left hand and overall underrated striking. But his aggressiveness has always seemed to come as a package deal with his wrestling. When his wrestling is effective and he can score take downs, he has much more aggression on the feet. If he can’t get takedowns, he gets dejected and struggles. "Hi, Bert. Got any smack, Bert?" On some Snuffleupagus type-ish. Just down in the dumps. He needs to channel the aggression, anger, and emotion of the greatest linebacker of all time, Bobby Boucher. "Water sucks!"

These guys have almost identical records/stats. Anders is 15-7 with noine TKO/KOs and one sub, and like Barriault, he has only been finished twice, once by TKO/KO and once by sub. Barriault will be the (-150) favorite, and Anders will be the (+125) dog. Anders will have a ton of value as a finishing threat, but also, he averages over one and a half takedowns per fifteen minutes and can salt the clock with top control. And on the feet, he will have a speed advantage. Barriault is the higher output striker, averaging nearly six significant strikes landed per minute to Anders’ under three and a half. There is some value in a Barriault finish, but Anders has more one-punch power, whereas Barriault finishes fights with accumulated damage. I just don’t trust Anders. Marc-Andre Barriault via decision. On wax.

Put 'em on wax, homies!

FanPosts are user-generated content that do not reflect the editorial opinions of nor its staff.