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Fight By Fight Preview | UFC 269: Oliveira vs Poirier

The Final Pay Per View Of 2021 Is Positively Stacked. Let's Break It Down.

I’ve always loved that the UFC does 13 pay-per-views per year and that the annual year-end offering is traditionally loaded with goodness because it fits with the whole idea of a baker’s dozen.

In a baker’s dozen, that 13th bagel or loaf of bread or whatever is meant as a little something extra, originally done in medieval times to avoid punishment for coming in under the specified weight of bread regulations, but now as a little thank you for purchasing such a hefty quantity.

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When it comes to the annual December pay-per-view, the card, much like this one, is often stacked from top to bottom with compelling and competitive fights as a way to close out the year in style and give fans one last massive show.

UFC 269 is a delectable little treat right before the holiday season kicks off in earnest and a terrific prelude to next week’s year-end event.

Enjoy!

CHARLES OLIVEIRA VS DUSTIN POIRIER

Two men that took the long road to the top of the lightweight division will battle it out for the opportunity to enter 2022 with championship gold around their waist as Charles Oliveira defends his title for the first time against Dustin Poirier.

Charles Oliveira vs Dustin Poirier Preview | UFC 269
Charles Oliveira vs Dustin Poirier Preview | UFC 269
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Ten years, nine months, 15 days and 27 fights after making his promotional debut, Oliveira claimed the vacant lightweight title with a second-round stoppage win over Michael Chandler at UFC 262 in May. The victory extended the 32-year-old Brazilian’s winning streak to nine, while also giving Oliveira the record for the most finishes in UFC history with 17; he has 19 UFC victories.

RELATED: Dustin Poirier Talks About Fighting Oliveira & His Legacy

For many people, this was the pairing they wanted to see when Khabib Nurmagomedov initially announced his retirement and vacated the lightweight title, and although it took a couple fights, here we are. Poirier punched his ticket to a second lightweight title fight with a pair of victories over Conor McGregor, stopping the Irish superstar at UFC 267 in January to draw level in their personal series and winning the best-of-three affair with a second consecutive stoppage victory in July at UFC 264. Like Oliveira, “The Diamond” has been plying his trade inside the Octagon for quite some time, with his most recent win over McGregor standing as his 20th UFC victory.

This is a captivating matchup in every way and whoever emerges victorious will have earned the right to stand tall as the best lightweight in the world.

AMANDA NUNES VS JULIANNA PEÑA

Amanda Nunes looks for her 13th consecutive victory and fifth successful defense of her bantamweight title on Saturday night as she locks horns with ultra-confident contender Julianna Peña in the co-main event of the evening.

Nunes is the greatest female fighter in the history of the sport; that’s not up for debate. She’s one of the greatest competitors in the history of the sport and one of the top champions in UFC history as well. “The Lioness” successfully defended her featherweight strap in March with a two-minute submission win over Megan Anderson to push her winning streak to a dozen and is looking to make it seven years without a loss when she steps into the Octagon on Saturday.

Amanda Nunes vs Julianna Peña Preview | UFC 269
Amanda Nunes vs Julianna Peña Preview | UFC 269
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Peña lobbied hard for this opportunity after registering a third-round submission win over Sara McMann in January, and while you may not agree with her talking points, you have to give her full marks for actively picking a fight with Nunes. The former Ultimate Fighter winner has long believed that she is the one to knock the Brazilian champion from her throne, and finally gets the chance to back up her bold statements this weekend in Las Vegas.

AMANDA NUNES: The Din Diaries | Draftkings Game Changers

It’s easy to look at this matchup and simply dismiss Peña, but that would be foolhardy — she’s gritty, physically and mentally tough, and has been locked in on this fight for almost a year now, and you know she is going to bring her “A Game” on Saturday. That being said, Nunes has been operating on a different plane of existence than everyone she’s shared the Octagon with her as of late, and can add to her legacy by earning her 10th straight championship fight triumph with a victory over Peña.

GEOFF NEAL VS SANTIAGO PONZINIBBIO

Geoff Neal and Santiago Ponzinibbio square off in the middle of the UFC 269 pay-per-view main card in a clash of Top 15 welterweights looking to improve their position within the divisional hierarchy heading into next year.

Neal earned five straight victories to begin his UFC career before being sidelined for most of 2019 with major health issues. He returned in the final bout of the year and dropped a unanimous decision to Stephen Thompson, following that up with a similar loss on the cards to Neil Magny in May. Recharged and refocused, the Fortis MMA product looks to get back to the form that produced wins over Belal Muhammad, Niko Price, and Mike Perry as he steps in with Ponzinibbio here.

Like Neal, Ponzinibbio had his momentum halted by health issues, missing more than two years due to numerous injuries and illnesses after pushing his winning streak to seven with a fourth-round knockout win over Magny in November 2018. He finally returned to action in January, but was promptly stopped in the first round by Li Jingliang before rebounding with a unanimous decision victory over Miguel Baeza in June.

Both men have shown the skills and abilities to be Top 10 fixtures in the 170-pound weight class when firing on all cylinders, so it will be interesting to see which one closes out 2021 with a massive momentum boost and a big victory on Saturday night at T-Mobile Arena.

UFC 269 COUNTDOWN: Oliveira vs Poirier | Nunes vs Peña | Full Episode

KAI KARA-FRANCE VS CODY GARBRANDT

New Zealand knockout artist Kai Kara-France welcomes former UFC bantamweight champion Cody Garbrandt to the flyweight division for the first time in this must-see main card attraction.

The 28-year-old City Kickboxing representative validated his “Don’t Blink” nickname last time out, knocking out Rogerio Bontorin in the waning seconds of the opening round after spending the entire frame with the Brazilian on his back hunting for the finish. Kara-France is 5-2 inside the Octagon with his setbacks coming against current champ Brandon Moreno and top contender Brandon Royval, and he’ll look to put himself back into the contender conversation by spoiling Garbrandt’s divisional debut.

Garbrandt has talked about moving down to flyweight for some time, and finally makes the move down at a critical time in his career. The former bantamweight champion has lost four of his last five, most recently landing on the business end of things in a clash with Rob Font in May, and will need to get back to blending his weapons and attacking with volume if he wants to make his flyweight debut a successful one.

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This is a perfect piece of matchmaking as the pairing works for both men — Kara-France gets the chance to share the cage with a former champion and maybe land the biggest win of his career, while Garbrandt steps in against an established talent in the division, providing him the opportunity to propel himself into the title conversation with a dynamic victory.

No matter how this shakes out, it should be a tense, entertaining clash from start to finish on Saturday night.

RAULIAN PAIVA VS SEAN O’MALLEY

Raulian Paiva and “Sugar” Sean O’Malley meet in the main card opener, with a place in the Top 15 in the bantamweight division at stake.

Paiva pushed his winning streak to three in his divisional debut in July, navigating through a gnarly first round to rally and defeat Kyler Phillips. The 26-year-old Brazilian is 21-3 for his career with his two losses in the UFC coming by split decision versus Kara-France and by a cut stoppage against Bontorin.

O’Malley followed up his third-round stoppage win over Thomas Almeida in March with a similar result against short-notice replacement Kris Moutinho in July, pushing his record to 14-1 in the process. The wildly popular Dana White’s Contender Series graduate is now 6-1 inside the Octagon, with five post-fight bonuses, and is taking a step up in competition here while searching for his third win of 2021.

Rise Of Sean O'Malley
Rise Of Sean O'Malley
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Paiva proved his mettle in his clash with Phillips and is the best fighter O’Malley has faced outside of his bout with Marlon Vera, which remains the lone blemish on the Montana native’s record. This is a massive opportunity for the Brazilian to topple a burgeoning superstar, but also a terrific chance for O’Malley to prove that he can replicate the type of effort he turned in against Almeida and Moutinho against someone with a little momentum behind them as well.

What a way to kick of the main card!

JOSH EMMETT VS DAN IGE

Ranked featherweights occupy the final position on Saturday’s prelims as Josh Emmett returns to face Dan Ige in a bout that has “Fight of the Night contender” written all over it.

Emmett hasn’t fought since pushing his winning streak to three with a unanimous decision win over Shane Burgos in an absolute slobberknocker. The Team Alpha Male representative suffered a litany of injuries in the bout but is finally back to full health and ready to resume his ascent up the rankings in the 145-pound weight class this weekend.

Ige kicked off his 2021 campaign with a 22-second knockout win over Gavin Tucker in March before dropping a unanimous decision to “The Korean Zombie,” Chan Sung Jung, in June. Now 7-3 inside the Octagon and entrenched in the Top 10 at featherweight, this is a chance for Ige to close out the year with a “W” and put himself in position for another main event opportunity to start next year.

Each of these men is allergic to being in boring fights, so when you stick them in the Octagon together this weekend with just 15 minutes to work, you better believe the action will be non-stop from the outset and wildly entertaining to watch for as long as it lasts.

PEDRO MUNHOZ VS DOMINICK CRUZ

You know a fight card is capital L Loaded when Pedro Munhoz and Dominick Cruz are squaring off on the prelims!

Munhoz has fought an insane strength of schedule since beginning his UFC career with a short-notice assignment opposite Raphael Assuncao in 2014. While the Brazilian veteran is just 2-3 over his last five fights, he’s earned Fight of the Night honors in three of those outings, including his win over Jimmie Rivera earlier this year.

Cruz is looking for his first two-win year since 2016 after edging out Casey Kenney on the scorecards in March. The two-time former champion is 36 years old now but showed he’s still a difficult puzzle to solve at UFC 259 and can put himself back on the fringes of contention by toppling Munhoz this weekend.

AUGUSTO SAKAI VS TAI TUIVASA

Originally slated to face off in mid-November, Augusto Sakai and Tai Tuivasa finally clash here in a battle of heavyweights looking for a quality win to close out their respective 2021 campaigns.

Charles Oliveira by the numbers

After earning victories in each of his first four UFC appearances, Sakai enters UFC 269 on a two-fight slide, landing on the wrong side of stoppage losses against Alistair Overeem and Jairzinho Rozenstruik in his last two outings. The 30-year-old Brazilian is at his best when he’s moving forward, dictating the range and tempo of the fight, and will need to get back to that in order to get the better of things against Tuivasa this weekend.

It’s been three sets of three for Tuivasa through his first nine UFC appearances — three wins, followed by three losses, followed by three more wins, capped by a 67-second knockout victory over Greg Hardy at UFC 264 in July. The popular big man from Western Sydney has needed less than five minutes to secure each win during his current run of success and will look to break his pattern with a fourth consecutive first-round win on Saturday.

Can Sakai snap his skid and cement his standing as a Top 15 heavyweight or will there be shoeys all around to celebrate another Tuivasa triumph this weekend in Las Vegas?

JORDAN WRIGHT VS BRUNO SILVA

It’s a meeting of finishers in the middleweight division as Contender Series veteran Jordan Wright takes on streaking Brazilian Bruno Silva.

Fourteen fights into his career, Wright still hasn’t been to the third round. He’s never actually been more than a minute into the second, actually, which makes the fact that he’s 12-1 with one no contest verdict thus far even more impressive. The mild-mannered karate stylist got back into the win column with a 64-second stoppage win over Jamie Pickett earlier this year and will look to build on that this weekend when he steps in with Silva.

UFC 269 FREE FIGHTS: Charles Oliveira vs Michael Chandler | Amanda Nunes vs Cris Cyborg | Dustin Poirier vs Max Holloway | Julianna Peña vs Sara McMann

Not to be confused with the streaking flyweight with the same name, “Blindado” has earned a pair of stoppage wins to start his UFC career, pushing his overall winning streak to six in the process. Last time out, Silva rallied to stop Andrew Sanchez in the third round, moving his record to 21-6 overall with his sixth straight finish.

There should be fireworks in this one as each man prefers to strike and likes to handle their business as quickly as possible. An explosive finish of either man should elevate their standing in the always-fluid middleweight ranks and position the victor for a step up in competition to start their 2021 campaign.

ANDRE MUNIZ VS ERYK ANDERS

Andre Muniz looks to keep his winning streak intact in his second appearance of 2021, while Eryk Anders looks to make the most of this short-notice opportunity to close out the year.

After quietly earning victories over Antonio Arroyo and Bartosz Fabinski in his first two Octagon appearances, Muniz introduced himself to a larger audience in May with a first-round technical submission win over Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza. He’s now won seven straight and 15 of his last 16, with back-to-back first-round finishes, making the 31-year-old someone to watch in the middleweight ranks going forward.

Dustin Poirier by the numbers

Prior to this weekend’s contest, Anders’ 2021 has consisted of fighting Darren Stewart, as their first meeting was halted prematurely due to an illegal knee, prompting a rematch. Anders won the second battle between the two by unanimous decision and is now 3-1 with one no contest over his last five, putting him in a position to potentially re-enter the Top 15 if he’s able to halt Muniz’s momentum this weekend.

Business has been picking up in the middleweight division of late, so this is a critical bout for both Muniz and Anders. A fourth straight UFC win could launch the Brazilian into the Top 15, while a second straight victory and four wins in six starts would make Anders an intriguing veteran presence in the 185-pound weight class, which should mean both come out looking to make a statement on Saturday.

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MIRANDA MAVERICK VS ERIN BLANCHFIELD

Miranda Maverick and Erin Blanchfield square off in a clash of two of the top prospects in the UFC and a bout that has the potential to be the start of a long-term rivalry in the flyweight division.

Maverick dropped a split decision to Maycee Barber last time out and replaces “The Future” here, looking to rebounded from that debated decision by toppling another promising young talent. The 24-year-old showed a ton of resolve in her hard-fought win over Gillian Robertson in March and is the kind of powerful, physical athlete that could develop into a legitimate force in the 125-pound weight class in the not too distant future.

The 22-year-old Blanchfield made her promotional debut in September, registering a unanimous decision win over Sarah Alpar to push her record to 7-1 overall. She already holds wins over fellow UFC competitors Kay Hansen and Victoria Leonardo, and her lone loss came to fellow flyweight hopeful Tracy Cortez at Invicta FC 34 in a decision many felt should have gone the other way.

It’s not hyperbolic to say that each of these women have the talent to be Top 5 fixtures in the division within the next couple years and then remain there for a considerable amount of time. This is an outstanding clash of dynamic, young competitors and one that anyone looking to see what the future of the flyweight division looks like should be tuning into this weekend.

ALEX PEREZ VS MATT SCHNELL

Fourth time’s the charm for Top 10 flyweights Alex Perez and Matt Schnell as they finally share the Octagon at UFC 269 after a trio of delays earlier in the year.

A standout on the first season of Dana White’s Contender Series, Perez competes for the first time since his championship meeting with Deiveson Figueiredo at UFC 255 last November. He’d earned consecutive first-round stoppage wins prior to that contest and has only lost to elite competition inside the Octagon, but he will need to shake off any rust and be in top form to get back into the win column this weekend.

Schnell has bounced around between divisions and faced solid competition at both bantamweight and flyweight, amassing a 5-4 record through his first nine UFC appearances. He dropped a bantamweight fight to Rogerio Bontorin last time out with the Brazilian missing weight by a pound, but is 4-1 over his last five flyweight fights.

UFC 269 Countdown | Full Episode
UFC 269 Countdown | Full Episode
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RYAN HALL VS DARRICK MINNER

Ryan Hall makes his second appearance of 2021 on Saturday, sharing the Octagon with fellow grappler Darrick Minner.

This is the first time in Hall’s UFC career that he’s competed twice in the same calendar year, as he looks to rebound from a first-round stoppage loss to Ilia Topuria at UFC 264 in July. The loss snapped Hall’s eight-fight winning streak, so it will be interesting to see if “The Wizard” can make an immediate return to the win column as he makes a rapid (for him) return to action this weekend.

The 31-year-old Minner has logged four appearances in his first two years on the roster, sandwiching wins over TJ Laramie and Charles Rosa between stoppage losses to Grant Dawson and Darren Elkins. Minner is a 38-fight veteran with a disdain for going the distance and a preference for grappling, which means we should get some entertaining exchanges on the canvas in this one.

RANDY COSTA VS TONY KELLEY

Action-oriented bantamweights battle it out here as Randy Costa takes on Tony Kelley in the second preliminary card pairing of the evening.

Costa got out of the gate quickly in his friendly grudge match with Adrian Yanez in July, attacking the Houston native with an assortment of kicks and leaving him leaking crimson from his nose through the first five minutes. But as Costa’s output faded, Yanez found his rhythm, resulting in the fight being stopped a little more than two minutes into the second round.

UFC 269: Main Event Preview | Co-Main Event Preview | Order Now

Kelley returns for the first time since last Ocotber when he scored a unanimous decision win over Ali Al-Qaisi to earn his first UFC win. He was slated to meet Trevin Jones in July but suffered a shoulder injury that put him on the sidelines, leaving the 7-2 Louisiana native to recapture his momentum here.

GILLIAN ROBERTSON VS PRISCILA CACHOEIRA

Flyweights meet on the doorstep of the Top 15 in Saturday’s opener, as Gillian Robertson looks to halt her two-fight slide, while Priscila Cachoeira aims to push her winning streak to three.

Click Here To Order UFC 269: Oliveira vs Poirier

A fixture in the division since its inception, Robertson amassed a 6-2 record to earn a place in the rankings through her first eight appearances. Since then, however, “The Savage” has dropped consecutive decisions to Taila Santos and Miranda Maverick to fall out of the rankings and enter this one in need of a bounce back effort.

Conversely, Cachoeira began her UFC tenure with three straight setbacks, including being the first flyweight victim of current champ Valentina Shevchenko. But she finally broke into the win column with a knockout win over Shana Dobson in February 2020 and followed that up with a come-from-behind, second-round finish of Gina Mazany in May.

There has been a lot of movement in the Top 15 over the last several weeks and the winner of this one could very well find themselves in line to get in on that action to begin next year. Will Robertson rebound or will Cachoeira continue to roll?

Don't miss a single strike of the final pay-per-view of the year at UFC 269: Oliveira vs Poirier, live from T-Mobile Arena on ESPN+. Prelims begin at 6pm ET/3pm PT. Main card begins at 10pm ET/7pm PT.