As we endure a very rare week with no UFC fights (save for the Road to UFC tournament on Saturday and Sunday), now is as good a time as any to look ahead to what the world’s premier MMA promotion has in store for us this summer. While the octagon is dark this weekend, we will have UFC action on our televisions for the next 12 Saturdays (taking us up to August 29th). Here are the top fights over that span.
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UFC Summer 2023 Preview & Betting Guide
Amanda Nunes (-350) vs. Irene Aldana (+300) – UFC 289 – Jun 10th
The UFC octagon returns to Canada for the first time since September 2019 this June for UFC 289. Unfortunately, Vancouver’s Rogers Arena isn’t getting the most inspired fight card. The original main event was supposed to be Amanda Nunes vs. Julianna Pena, Part 3 before Pena had to pull out due to injury.
At least we get a more interesting and fresh matchup with Irene Aldana stepping into the fight. A winner of four of her last five, with the previous three wins coming via (T)KO, Aladana is a worthy challenger for the bantamweight title. But if Pena is on her game, she should be leaving British Columbia with her belt.
Charles Oliveira (+110) vs. Beneil Dariush (-125) – UFC 289 – Jun 10th
The co-main event in Vancouver is a defacto #1 contender fight for the lightweight championship. Former champion Charles Oliveira goes up against perennial top contender Beneil Dariush. Dariush has won eight straight fights and hasn’t lost in over five years, while Oliveira is coming off his title loss to Islam Makhachev. I’m slightly leaning toward Dariush in this battle of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu aces, but that could change by the time the fight rolls around, and I do more research.
Alexander Volkanovski (-435) vs. Yair Rodriguez (+350) – UFC 290 – Jul 8th
UFC 290 takes place during the UFC’s annual International Fight Week, so no surprise it’s a stacked card at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. On top is a UFC Featherweight Championship unification bout between long-time champion Alexander Volkanovski and interim champ Yair Rodriguez. Volkanovski is fresh off an unsuccessful bid for the UFC Lightweight Championship, but at 145 pounds, he should still be untouchable. Hence the -435 line.
Brandon Moreno (-175) vs. Alexandre Pantoja (+150) – UFC 290 – Jul 8th
The second title fight on the UFC 290 card is for the UFC Flyweight Championship. After winning his series of four bouts against Deiveson Figueiredo, Brandon Moreno is the champ once more. However, in challenger Alexandre Pantoja, he is going up against the last man not named Figueiredo to beat him. Pantoja won a unanimous decision over Moreno five years ago – I’m seriously considering backing the underdog here.
Robert Whittaker (-385) vs. Dricus du Plessis (+280) – UFC 290 – Jul 8th
The winner of this fight should get the next crack at Israel Adesanya and his UFC Middleweight Championship. You’d have to think the UFC is hoping it is Dricus du Plessis, as Robert Whittaker has already lost to Adesanya twice. However, I don’t see the wild (and not that good) du Plessis winning this fight. Whittaker is just a way better and more well-rounded fighter.
Dustin Poirier (-120) vs. Justin Gaethje (+106) – UFC 291 – Jul 29th
The totally meaningless and fictitious ‘BMF championship will be on the line in the main event of July’s UFC 291, as fan favorites Dustin Poirier and Justin Gaethje collide in a lightweight bout. This one will surely provide plenty of fireworks in Salt Lake City, fake belts or not on the line. Gaethje is basically just a brawler, and while Poirier can hang in a firefight, he also is better than Gaethje pretty much everywhere. I like that -120 line.
Aljamain Sterling (-295) vs. Sean O’Malley (+220) – UFC 292 – Aug 19th
The UFC Bantamweight Championship main events August’s UFC 292, live from the TD Garden in Boston. Aljamain Sterling has proven his mettle over the past few years as champion, and the betting lines are starting to show it. He should dominate challenger Sean O’Malley with his relentless grappling game.
Zhang Weili (-120) vs. Amanda Lemos (+106) – UFC 292 – Aug 19th
The UFC Women’s Strawweight belt will also be up for grabs in Boston as champion Zhang Weili makes the first defense of her second title reign. Challenger Amanda Lemos is on a nice run, winning two straight (both via finish) and seven of her last eight. I like Zhang’s resume way more than Lemos’s, but I’m not totally decided on this fight.
Other notable fights:
Kai Kara-France (+100) vs. Amir Albazi (-110) – UFC Fight Night: Kara-France vs Albazi – Jun 3rd
Holly Holm (TBD) vs. Mayra Bueno Silva (TBD) – UFC Fight Night: Holm vs. Bueno Silva – Jul 15th
Jan Blachowicz (-150) vs. Alex Pereira (+130) – UFC 291 – Jul 29th
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