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We have $200,000 up for grabs on DraftKings this weekend, eh? The UFC heads to Canada for UFC 289 PPV offering featuring a Women’s Bantamweight title fight between Amanda Nunes and Irene Aldana. We also have an exciting co-main event between Beneil Dariush and Charles Oliveira.

As always, I give my analysis and DraftKings strategy based on how I see each fight matchup playing out. Feel free to hit me up on Twitter  with any questions that you have leading up until fight night Saturday.

Maria Oliveira vs Diana Belbita
Oliveira, -120; Belbita, +100

Maria Oliveira is coming off a decision loss to Vanessa Demopoulos in November. She is primarily a striker and does have seven wins by knockout on the regional scene, so she has some power as well. She struggles defensively grappling and needs to keep the fight on the feet where she will look to land heavy volume. I have never rated her skillset that highly and am not sure she is even UFC level.

Her opponent, Diana Belbita is coming off a 16-month layoff after dropping a decision to Gloria De Paula in February of 2022. Belbita does not have the greatest skillset either, but she is willing to go for it at least. She keeps a high pace on the feet and has shown the ability to land takedowns as well although she does not do it as often as she should. Her biggest issue is that she is very hittable, and she has been submitted four times in her career.

I expect this fight to be competitive on the feet with both fighters having some success. Oliveira likely being the harder hitter but if Belbita incorporates the the takedowns then she will have the biggest advantage in the fight. Belbita by decision is the official pick but there are better fights to target this week on DraftKings.

David Dvorak vs Steve Erceg
Dvorak, -340; Erceg, +280

David Dvorak is coming off a decision loss to Manel Kape in December. After starting his UFC career with three straight victories, he is currently on a two-fight losing streak. Dvorak is a well-rounded fighter with solid striking and good takedown defense. Of his 20 career victories, 16 of them have come by a finish but most of those were on the regional scene. I do not trust his durability or skillset when facing better competition, but this should be a favorable matchup for him this weekend.

His opponent, Steve Erceg was originally scheduled to fight Clayton Carpenter a few weeks ago but the fight got scrapped and now he takes on Dvorak. Erceg is primarily a grappler as six of his nine career wins have come by submission. He is the former Flyweight champion in Eternal MMA promotion. He has shown to be a capable submission grappler and will be the more dangerous of the two if the fight gets to the ground.

I expect this fight to play out closer than the betting odds suggest. Dvorak is the more complete fighter but he is not one to push a hard pace and things could get dicey if it hits the mat. The most likely outcome is Dvorak winning a decision where he is able to win most of the striking exchanges and avoid getting in bad spots on the ground. Dvorak by decision is the official pick but I plan to have more exposure to Erceg for the finishing potential and grappling upside if he pulls off the upset.

Blake Bilder vs Kyle Nelson
Bilder, -225; Nelson, +190

Blake Bilder made a statement in his UFC debut with a clear victory over Shane Young at UFC 284 in February. Bilder previously fought on Dana White’s Contender Series last season and is the former Bantamweight champion in Cage Fury. He is an explosive striker and will push a heavy pace on the feet. But he has a good ground game as well as he is able to mix in the takedowns and four of his eight career wins have come by submission. The one main concern with Bilder is that he is hittable in striking exchanges and he has been hurt multiple times on the regional scene.

His opponent, Kyle Nelson is coming off a majority draw against Doo Ho Choi in February. Prior to that, he had lost four of his last five fights. Nelson is a powerful striker while he is fresh and nine of his 13 wins have come inside the distance. But he is easy to figure out once you get through the initial burst and his cardio is historically bad after the first few explosions. When he fades, his durability and willingness to continue come into question, which is a major concern against a finisher like Bilder.

This is a great fight to target on Draftkings due to the finishing potential on both sides. For that reason, I plan to be overweight to both sides, but the official pick is Bilder by TKO. Outside of getting clipped early in this fight, this all goes in his favor.

Aori Qileng vs Aiemann Zahabi
Qileng, -125; Zahabi, +105

Aori Qileng is coming off a decision victory over Jay Perrin last August. He is currently on a two-fight winning streak and looks to keep that momentum building through this weekend. He is primarily a striker and does have legitimate knockout power, particularly early in the fight. He pushes a high pace in terms of striking volume, but he is very hittable on defense which is concerning. He also struggles against good grapplers and repeatedly fades in the later parts of the fight.

His opponent, Aiemann Zahabi is coming off a decision win over Ricky Turcios last July. That was one of the most boring fights of recent memory as neither guy came to fight that evening and it was mostly a staring contest with Zahabi edging on the scorecards. Zahabi is a technical striker and has legitimate power in his own right, but he is one of those fighters that simply does not do enough to win rounds convincingly at this level. He needs to hurt you and get a finish because it is easy to outwork him.

I favor Qileng in this matchup mainly because I know he is going to move forward and try to put a pace on Zahabi. Zahabi can land some big counter shots, but Qileng’s pressure and volume should be the difference here and Zahabi just does not have enough output to take over down the stretch. Qileng by decision is the official pick but there are better fights to target on DraftKings.

Miranda Maverick vs Jasmine Jasudavicius
Maverick, -305; Jasudavicius, +255

Miranda Maverick is fresh off a dominant performance over Shanna Young in November. She is currently on a two-fight winning streak since losing to Erin Blanchfield at UFC 269. Maverick is a very well-rounded prospect with a Muay Thai striking base but has a good ground game as well. She averages 2.7 takedowns per 15 minutes and holds a brown belt in BJJ. She can be taken down as she defends at under 50% in the UFC but she is not easy to control and liable to reverse position or work back to her feet quickly.

Her opponent, Jasmine Jasudavicius is coming off a decision victory over Gabriella Fernandes in February. She landed multiple takedowns and controlled Fernandes on the mat for over 10 minutes. But this is a much different matchup as Fernandes has a history of being clueless on the mat and unable to work back to her feet. In this fight, I favor Maverick’s striking at distance as Jasudavicius is very hittable. I also think Jasudavicius will not be able to have success in the clinch which she relies on. On the mat, Maverick is the much better submission grappler and she wins this fight wherever it goes. Maverick by decision is the official pick.

Nassourdine Imavov vs Chris Curtis
Imavov, -155; Curtis, +135

Nassourdine Imavov is coming off a main event loss to Sean Strickland in January. That loss snapped a three-fight winning streak for him and he looks to rebound this weekend. Despite the loss in his last fight, I still consider Imavov one of the best prospects in the division as he is a powerful striker with good pressure, pace and durability. He has a solid ground game as well although he typically does not try to grapple as often as he should. Lastly, he is very durable and that will play a role in this fight against a one-dimensional power striker.

His opponent, Chris Curtis is coming off a decision loss to Kelvin Gastelum at UFC 287 in April. Curtis is a dangerous counter striker with 17 of his 30 career wins coming by knockout. Statistically, you would think he is a heavy volume striker, but it is very matchup dependent with him. If you can figure him out on the feet, then he struggles to get his timing and reads down and looks a step behind. He has great takedown defense so you can expect most guys to have to stand and trade so expect this to be a kickboxing matchup for the most part.

Despite not expecting Imavov to have much grappling success, I still favor him in this fight. Curtis has real power but will likely need to hurt Imavov on the feet and Imavov has proven to be very durable throughout his career. The forward pressure and clinch work should all favor Imavov which has me leaning towards him in this fight. Imavov by decision is the official pick.

Marc-Andre Barriault vs Eryk Anders
Barriault, -150; Anders, +130

We recently saw Marc-Andre Barriault inside the octagon just three months ago at UFC 285 when he put away Julian Marquez in the second round. He is a high-volume striker that is looking to push a pace on the feet and has proven to have good cardio to keep up that output for 15 minutes if needed. The concern with Barriault is that he is one-dimensional and if you can beat him in the striking then you do not have much else to worry about.

His opponent, Eryk Anders is coming off a second-round TKO victory over Kyle Daukaus in December. Anders is similar to Barriault in a sense although he does not push a pace like Barriault and he leans on his wrestling a bit more. Anders averages over 1.5 takedowns per 15 minutes and I think he can land a takedown or two in this fight as well. Where I worry with Anders is that you never really know what version of him you are going to get. When he is aggressive and letting his hands go, he has real power and can mix in the wrestling as well. But we have also seen him get caught in staring matches where he is not willing to exchange and not aggressive enough in mixing in the grappling so he is a bit of a wildcard.

I expect this to be competitive fight with Barriault landing more volume on the feet. Anders will probably land a takedown or two but I doubt he is able to control or do much to Barriault with it. I also favor Barriault’s cardio and output down the stretch. Barriault by decision is the official pick.

Dan Ige vs Nate Landwehr
Ige, -250; Landwehr, +210

Dan Ige is coming off a highlight reel knockout victory over Damon Jackson in January. It was good see him get back in the win column in exciting fashion after a run of brutal matchups recently. Ige is a very well-rounded fighter with good boxing and legitimate knockout power with his last two wins coming by knockout. He is also capable of mixing in some wrestling and has good cardio as well. The only real downside with Ige is that he can be outgrappled by fighters with good wrestling and a solid ground game and we have seen that play out multiple times recently but likely will not be in a factor in this fight.

His opponent, Nate Landwehr is coming off a second-round submission victory over Austin Lingo in March. He is currently on a three-fight winning streak with two of those ending in a finish. Landwehr is always a high-action fighter as he is going to constantly put pressure on his opponents and try to bait them into a war. While that is great from an entertainment standpoint, it is not always the brightest gameplan for him especially considering his durability. Landwehr has been knocked out twice in the first round in two of his UFC fights and always seems to eat some heavy shots due to is offense-first fighting style. He has excellent cardio and output but that can only get you so far in this division and I worry about his durability.

Landwehr always puts on a show for the fans so you will not want to miss this one. But I worry that his best assets in his cardio and output are not going to be enough against someone as talented as Ige who rarely has had issues with his gas tank. Ige also has sharp boxing and is powerful enough to test the chin of Landwehr as well. Ige by knockout is the official pick and this is a solid fight to target on DraftKings.

Mike Malott vs Adam Fugitt
Malott, -205; Fugitt, +175

Mike Malott is coming off a first-round submission victory over Yohan Lainesse in February. Malott trains out of Team Alpha Male and Niagara Top Team with other fighters on this card such as Jasmine Jasudavicius and Kyle Nelson. He is a dangerous finisher and all nine of his career wins have come inside the first round. He is a technical striker with explosive power but is a good submission grappler as well so you need to be aware of how dangerous he is in multiple areas. The concern with Malott is that his cardio is entirely unproven, and he went to a draw the only time he fought out of the first round in his career.

His opponent, Adam Fugitt is coming off a big upset performance over Yusaku Kinoshita in February. Fugitt is not the most talented guy on the roster, but he has a ton of heart and a well-rounded skillset. He comes from a Muay Thai striking background and holds a brown belt in BJJ. He is also capable of mixing in the takedowns as he wrestled in junior college and has attempted 15 takedowns across his two UFC bouts. He fights out of the southpaw stance and typically likes to pressure his opponents with a variety of kicking attacks before looking to land the big left hand. The concern with Fugitt is that he is pretty hittable in striking exchanges and he needs to mind his P’s and Q’s against such a dangerous fighter.

This is a great matchup to target on DraftKings as Malott has clear upside with the potential to finish in round one. But on the other hand, Fugitt is one of the better underdogs to target as he has a clear path to victory if he can withstand the early storm of Malott which is certainly possible. Fugitt by TKO is the official pick.

Beneil Dariush vs Charles Oliveira
Dariush, -145; Oliveira, +125

This fight was originally supposed to go down at UFC 288 in Newark, New Jersey. I am still salty that I did not get to watch this fight happen in person but at least it is still happening. Beneil Dariush is coming off an exciting performance over Mateusz Gamrot as he won a decision as a sizable underdog at UFC 280 in October. He displayed why he is known as one of the better grapplers and scramblers in the division. But he has also shown his power in recent fights as well with two recent knockout victories during his eight-fight winning streak. His only real weakness is his durability as he has been knocked out in three of his four professional losses.

His opponent, Charles Oliveira is coming off a championship bout against Islam Makhachev where he surrended his belt. Prior to that loss, he was on an 11-fight winning streak with 10 of those coming by finish. He owns the most submission victories in UFC history, so he is always dangerous if the fight hits the ground. But he has good boxing as well and heavy knees in the clinch. The concern with Oliveira is his durability as he has been knocked out four times in his career and finished in eight of his nine professional losses.

I cannot overstate how exciting this matchup is as we have two of the best grapplers in the division going at it. But they are both game and willing to brawl on the feet as well which means we should see multiple exciting exchanges wherever the fight goes. Both guys can hurt each other on the feet but I favor Dariush in striking and think he has more of a chance to control minutes in top position while on the mat. This is a high variance matchup, and you need heavy exposure to this fight, but the official pick is Dariush by TKO is the official pick.

Amanda Nunes vs Irene Aldana
Nunes, -320; Aldana, +265

Amanda Nunes got her championship belt back last time out against Julianna Pena at UFC 277 last July. Nunes is widely regarded as the WMMA GOAT and its mainly due to her explosive power. 13 of her 22 career wins have come by knockout but she has a strong ground game as well as she averages over 2.5 takedowns per 15 minutes and holds a black belt in BJJ. Her glaring weakness has always been her inability to manage her cardio which has plagued her multiple times in her career although looked good her last fight.

Her opponent, Irene Aldana is coming off a knockout victory over Macy Chiasson at UFC 279 last September. She is currently on a two-fight winning streak and has won four of her last five fights. Aldana is a high-volume striker with solid boxing, but I feel she is vastly outmatched in this fight. Aldana has repeatedly been taken down multiple times and can be controlled along the fence as well. She is going to be at a power disadvantage along with the grappling as well. She basically needs a Nunes gas job to pull off the upset which is always possible, but I do not see it this weekend. Nunes by submission is the official pick.