After back to back PPV’s at the end of October and start of November, the UFC are back with their final PPV of 2021. Charles Oliveira will face Dustin Poirier in a defence of the Lightweight Championship that he won at UFC 262 over Michael Chandler. Let’s get started!
Raulian Paiva vs Sean O’Malley – Bantamweight Division
We have an exciting matchup to start the night. Sean O’Malley, the self proclaimed “unranked Bantamweight champion,” will be looking to keep the fight on the feet, where I’m confident he’ll be dominant over Paiva. I think the feints, stance switches and the distance control of O’Malley will help him pick apart Paiva over three rounds if the fight makes it that far. However, if Paiva can take this to the ground, it’s possible he could hold Sean down for long periods of the fight. Yet, Sean has shown countless times his defensive grappling is good. I think the Suga Show will roll on strong on Saturday.
Prediction: Sean O’Malley by TKO in round 1
Kai Kara-France vs Cody Garbrandt – Flyweight Division
Another exciting matchup to follow the opener. Cody is making his debut at 125lbs and I think he can be extremely dangerous if the weight cut isn’t too much for him. The former Bantamweight champ has a background in wrestling but mostly likes to stand and bang with his opposition, with his incredible hand speed. However, one thing I’ve noticed about Cody is his poor footwork. In his last couple of fights, he’s been pressured back into the cage, something I think will happen against Kai, who’s known for putting the pressure on his opponents. Kai could easily outpoint Cody simply due to activity and advantage in speed. On the contrary, Cody could finish Kai with one accurate punch. It’s a tough pick but I’m going with Cody Garbrandt. I think he’ll land the shot that puts Kai to sleep.
Prediction: Cody Garbrandt by TKO in round 3
Geoff Neal vs Santiago Ponzinibbio – Welterweight Division
Neal comes into this bout 13-4 after two losses to Stephen Thompson and Neil Magny. Going into this fight against Santiago, I expect Neal to try fight on the outside, picking the Argentinian apart while Santiago would plant his feet, looking to stand and trade with Geoff. If he does that I’d expect a barrage of low kicks from Neal when his opponent advances. Santiago will try and fight behind his jab so he can setup his right overhand, which if he attempts, he cannot miss, because Neal could hit him with a counter left, the same way Li JingLiang did in January. Both men have serious power and I expect a finish possibly in round one. I’m taking Geoff Neal. I think he’ll be much more patient and when the times right, hit Ponzinibbio with a counter that will put him to sleep.
Prediction: Geoff Neal by KO in round 1
Amanda Nunes (c) vs Julianna Peña – Women’s Bantamweight Championship
The GOAT is back in action and she’s going up against the toughest opponent the UFC can give her in the Bantamweight division as of now, which isn’t saying much. Peña is a terrific wrestler and I expect her to try and take Nunes down and if she can get her down, she can possibly hold her for a minute or two. Even with her terrific wrestling, I’d say Amanda is a better wrestler and if Peña wants the fight on the ground, Nunes can compete with her there. When it comes to striking, especially boxing, Nunes will break Peña and if she can’t secure a takedown early, I won’t be surprised if we see an early finish.
Prediction: Amanda Nunes by TKO in round 2
Charles Oliveira (c) vs Dustin Poirier – Lightweight Championship
I’m excited for this one. This will be Oliveira’s first title defence after his incredible comeback against Michael Chandler in May. Oliveira’s jiu-jitsu is unmatched in the UFC and if he finds himself on the ground against Dustin, Dustin doesn’t stand a chance. Looking back at his beat down of Tony Ferguson at the end of last year, Oliveira’s ability to control his opponent and find a submission within an instant could cause problems for Dustin. Dustin is the better boxer and will 100% want to keep it on the feet, which if he can do, I think he can break Oliveira down easily, even with Oliveira’s massive improvements in his striking. I don’t expect Dustin to get tagged on the feet, with one of the strongest chins in MMA, but if Oliveira can rock him he can instantly hop onto a guillotine to get the victory. If Oliveira doesn’t get this done early, I think Poirier can finish him in the later rounds when he’s tired. Despite this, I’m taking the champ to retain.
Prediction: Charles Oliveira by submission in round 3