UFC 289: Nunes vs. Aldana Predictions, Analysis, and Free Picks
YTD Premium Record: 127-85 (60%)
A lot of people are glossing over this UFC 289 card, with the original main event (Nunes vs. Pena 3) scratched a month ago, and a perceived boring co-main (Oliveira vs. Dariush) slate for the co-main. While it doesn’t quite live up to the bangers scheduled for later this summer, it’s still a solid card and one I think there’s value in.
Over our last four PPV cards, premium subscribers have gone 16-9 (+8.45 units) through 16 total selections.
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Full access to analysis and selections for my favorite play on the Main Card
Picks w/ confidence level for every single fight on all three cards
Modeled odds for every single fight on all three cards
Dashboards for every single fight on all the main car
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Location: Rogers Arena, Vancouver, Canada
Early Prelims: 7:00 PM EST - ESPN+
Prelims: 8:00 PM EST - ESPN/ESPN+
Main Card: 10:00 PM EST - ESPN+ PPV
Kyle Nelson vs. Blake Bilder
Blake Bilder made his debut in this past season of DWCS, securing an R1 submission in what was one of the more hyped-up fights of the whole season. The win extended his undefeated streak, which in addition to eight pro wins includes six amateur wins since he started fighting in 2012.
Through his two fights under the banner, Bilder has been nothing short of the real deal, racking up a staggering 6.58 significant strikes landed per minute at a 57% accuracy clip. His real strength has been on the ground, however, with his .82 takedowns and 1.65 submissions (+ 100% takedown defense) per 15 minutes through two fights
Opposite Bilder will be Canada’s own Kyle Nelson, who through six (1-4-1)UFC fights, has largely shown who he is at this level. His sole win in the UFC, a first-round TKO in 2019, came against Polo Reyes who was 8-6 at the time and is now long gone from the UFC. Losing three of his four UFC losses inside the distance, Nelson has proven to be over-zealous in his approach, a quality that won’t bode well for him here.
With this being his second PPV-card appearance in just his 2nd UFC fight, it’s clear the UFC sees a star in the making in Bilder. And I think they served him up a KO on a silver platter in this one.
Pick: Blake Bilder - Inside the Distance (+125 at BetUS) to risk 1 unit
Nassourdine Imavov vs. Chris Curtis
This one closes out the prelim cards and is easily my favorite play of the night.
Though he didn’t make the UFC until 2021, Curtis is a guy that has been fighting professionally since 2009, taking a ton of damage in the process. Now approaching 36 years old, the typical signs of wear have started to show for The Action Man, as he comes into this one having lost two of three.
With no finishes on the ground since 2014 and only 3 in 30 pro wins, he has zero ground game to speak of, which in today’s UFC has proven time and time again to be an issue. Now drawing a well-rounded guy approaching his prime in Nassourdine Imavov, I expect it to be a big one Saturday night.
In my mind, Imavov is no doubt being rewarded here by drawing Curtis, after he fell on his sword the last time out agreeing to fight a killer in Sean Strickland last minute when his original opponent (Kelvin Gastelum) fell through. Losing that fight on points, Imavov’s three-fight win streak was halted, as was his entry into the division’s top 10.
Just the third loss of his career, Imavov does almost everything well, landing 4.32 significant strikes per minute while absorbing only 3.81 (half of what Curtis does). As eluded to earlier, his ground game is also stellar, averaging 1.7 submissions per 15 minutes in addition to .68 takedowns.
Though we’ve missed the best of this number, I still think there’s value all the way up to -200.
Pick: Nassourdine Imavov (-155 at BetUS) to risk 3.1 units
Marc-Andre Barriault vs. Eryk Anders
We’re fading another Canadian here, and while I don’t like it as much as the Nelson fade, I do think MAB is getting some unjustified juice in this one.
Following an 0-3 start to his UFC career in 2019, MAB rebounded with two wins in 2021, but it’s been a mixed bag since. Coming into this one 2-2 in his last four fights, he fought just 90 days ago, a second-round win over a sinking Julian Marquez.
On the flip side, Anders hasn’t exactly inspired confidence over the past couple of years. Since the start of 2020, Anders is just 2-3 inside the octagon but did pick up a win (R2 TKO) his last time out vs. Kyle Daukaus.
With a combined 25 fights in the UFC, we largely know who both of these guys are, and I think Anders is the better fight in almost all aspects. Though he trails slightly in significant striking volume, he has the edge here in knockdowns (2x) and absorbing fewer shots per minute.
On the ground, Anders has the edge nearly across the board, with a 5x takedown average per 15 minutes, as well as edges in takedown accuracy and defense.
The oddsmakers and market have largely agreed with this one, with Anders reaching as high as +130 before seeing buyback. I was part of that buying, and I like him at anything even or plus money.
Pick: Eryk Anders (+115 at BetUS) to risk 1 unit
Main Card (Marquee Selections)
BMP (Beer Money Parlay) of the Week sponsored by CBD MD
Prelim Fights - Dashboards (not found above)
All Fights - Picks w/ Confidence Levels & Modeled Odds
Main Card Fights - Dashboards (not found above)
*All odds as of the day of posting.
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