*This was originally published on December 13, 2021
The final PPV event of the year also happened to be one of the best cards of the year with incredible performances all throughout the card. We saw another shoey from Tuivasa, another impressive performance from Cruz, another 1st round TKO for Suga Sean, a quick loss for Garbrandt, one of the biggest upsets in UFC history as Nunes was dethroned and, of course, Oliveira’s first title defence. All of the bouts from UFC 269 are covered below along with BLÜ’s favourite performances of the night: the BLÜ BONUSES.
Gillian Robertson def. Priscila Cachoeira by Submission in the 1st Round
It’s no secret that Robertson’s plan was to get Cachoeira to the ground. It took her a couple minutes to get there but once she made it there, she overwhelmed Priscila on the ground to get an impressive submission with only 1 second left in the 1st round. This was an impressive showing for Robertson BUT it was equally as bad for Cachoeira’s image; Priscila came in 3 pounds overweight and then was blatantly going for some grossly illegal eyepokes while getting choked out.
BLÜ’s Prelim. Pick #1
Randy Costa vs. Tony Kelley
Costa is a finisher with all of his 6 wins being won by 1st round KO. He may have lost his last bout, but that was to the rising star Adrian Yanez. Meanwhile, Kelley had only fought twice in the UFC, was 7 years older and had a slightly shorter reach. He was 1-1 so far with a win over AlQaisi and loss to Kai Kamaka III who was recently let go from the UFC. Everything pointed towards a huge win for Randy Costa; he was younger, more experienced and had a longer reach, not to mention, all of his wins were by 1st round KO. Though it should be noted, Kelley had never been finished. I thought Costa would be the first to finish him, but said that Kelley would get past the 1st round.
Costa by Finish
Right from the opening bell, Kelley showed that his gameplan was to overwhelm Costa with his pressure and control along the cage. After winning the 1st round with his control along the cage, Kelley pushed Costa to the fence again in the second, dropped him with some bodywork and ended the fight with some ground and pound. Overall, it was a dominant display from Tony Kelley; Costa never even really landed anything significant.
Tony Kelley def. Randy Costa by TKO in the 2nd Round
Ryan Hall def. Darrick Minner by Unanimous Decision
There’s no secret what the plan was for both fighters here; Hall wanted to be on the ground and Minner wanted to be on the feet. As someone who’s never done any wrestling or Jiu-Jitsu, watching Ryan Hall on the ground is absolutely mind-blowing; he’s like an anaconda tangling and rolling around his opponents, fighting to choke them out. Shockingly, against the wishes of his coaches, Minner decided to play the ground game against Ryan Hall. He managed to get out of all 7 of those submission attempts, but it didn’t matter; with all those attempts and the control time he had, Hall stole the decision win away from Minner.
Erin Blanchfield def. Miranda Maverick by Unanimous Decision
Coming into this fight, I thought Maverick had the clear edge because of her UFC experience. Blanchfield shut down that narrative as she controlled Miranda all 3 rounds on the ground. There’s really not much else to say here; Blanchfield completely neutralised everything that Miranda had.
Before this fight, it looked like Maverick was quickly becoming a top flyweight contender. While I still believe she deserves a place in the rankings after this loss, it really just shows how good Blanchfield is. After a performance like that, she’s very clearly earned a ranked contender in her next fight. Barber pulled out of this fight so it would make sense to redo that fight, but honestly, we all know that Barber lost her last fight to Maverick, so what would be the point there? Instead, I think she’s earned someone like Modaferri, Eye or maybe even Lee.
Andre Muniz def. Eryk Anders by Submission in the 1st Round
After a bit of standup, Muniz pushed Anders to the fence and it was already the beginning of the end. He got Anders to the ground, moved into position and got a DEEP armbar that looked like he was about to snap Anders’ arm like he did in his last submission win to Souza.
Bruno Silva def. Jordan Wright by TKO in the 1st Round
The fight was short but it was explosive with both men landing some BIG shots. In the end, it was Silva that landed the bigger shot, gave Wright the spaghetti legs and got a huge 1st round TKO victory.
BLÜ’s Prelim. Pick #2
Augusto Sakai vs. Tai Tuivasa
Before the fight, Sakai was ranked 11th while Tuivasa wasn’t quite ranked yet but was on the very edge of those rankings. Sakai had lost his last two bouts to top contenders Rozenstruik and Overeem but before that he hadn’t lost in the UFC. As for Tuivasa, he’d been kind of a streaky fighter. He won his first 3 in the UFC, then he lost 3 to some top contenders, then, leading up to here, he was back with 3 first round KOs in a row over Struve, Hunsucker and Hardy. While Sakai had lost his last two, let’s not forget those were against 2 top tier heavyweights. Outside of their record, there wasn’t a whole lot separating these two; Tuivasa was slightly younger and Sakai had a slightly longer reach. The one difference that stood out is that Tuivasa regularly comes in almost 10 pounds over the weight of Sakai which may have given him an edge in power. Although this would slow down other heavyweights, Tuivasa is one of the quicker heavyweights on the roster. With these small physical edges and his momentum, I gave the edge to Tuivasa. Of course, considering the fact that they were heavyweights and these two men love to throw bombs, I expected a KO.
Tuivasa by Finish
This one was a high-stakes chess-match between two heavy hitters. In the first round neither man wanted to make the first round, but Tai landed a couple of shots to take the round. In the second, Tuivasa came in HOT, got Sakai stuck in the corner and landed a couple of missiles to knock Sakai out cold.
Tai Tuivasa def. Augusto Sakai by KO in the 2nd Round
It can no longer be denied that Tuivasa is a contender in the division. Sakai never even really threatened him with anything. I don’t think it’d be fair for Tai to fight someone like Volkov or Blaydes, but someone like Tybura or maybe even Rozenstruik would be a tough and interesting matchup.
BLÜ’s Prelim. Pick #3
Pedro Munhoz vs. Dominick Cruz
Just like the heavyweights before them, this could have gone either way; Munhoz was ranked 8th while Cruz was ranked 10th. Munhoz was fresh off a loss to Aldo a few months ago. Before that he had a win over Jimmie Rivera and two losses to Edgar and Sterling. In terms of experience, Cruz has the obvious edge with fights all the way back in the WEC days almost 15 years ago now. He had a layoff from 2017-2019, but came back in 2020 to fight Triple C, Henry Cejudo. After that he got a win against the up-and-coming contender Casey Kenney. It was tough to pick a winner here because Munhoz has fought such tough opponents lately and Cruz was only two fights back after a long layoff. After some thought, I went with the veteran, Dominick Cruz, because of his well-known non-stop, awkward movement and his experience.
Cruz by Decision
This fight was just as close as we thought it would be. Cruz did some good work with his classic movement and speed but Munhoz won the first round by dropping Cruz a couple of times with some big shots. Pedro threatened some more big shots as the fight went on but Cruz’s experience, patience and standup skills won him the last two rounds to get the decision.
Dominick Cruz def. Pedro Munhoz by Unanimous Decision
This is the kind of performance Cruz needed to insert himself back into the bantamweight conversation. There’s one main name that makes a lot of sense right now and we just saw him last week: Rob Font! Merab should be fighting Sandhagen, Aldo should fight TJ and of course we’ve got the title unifier; that only leaves Font.
BLÜ’s Prelim. Pick #4
Josh Emmett vs. Dan Ige
In the featured prelim of this incredible card, we had two electric featherweight contenders squaring off. They were close in the rankings with Emmett in 7th and Ige in 9th. This was another one that could have gone either way but was set up to be a very entertaining matchup. Emmett had won his last 3 over Burgos, Bektic and Johnson. On the other side, Ige had been way more active with 7 fights in that same 3 year period. Two of his last three had been decision losses to ‘the Korean Zombie’ and Calvin Kattar, but before that he won 6 fights in a row including Barboza and Bektic. The safer bet here was Emmett, but Ige really had a lot going for him. Zombie and Kattar were two of the top tier featherweights and he brought them to a decision, plus he beat Barboza. Maybe it was those slight edges in age and activity, but I thought Ige was going to pull ahead and win a tight decision.
Ige by Decision
It was a rough start for Ige after getting dropped twice in the first round, but he brought it back in the second with some crisp striking, moving in and out after landing some good ones. The third round was anyone’s guess with a dead-even round of standup fighting. In the end, the judges gave the unanimous decision to Emmett.
Josh Emmett def. Dan Ige by Unanimous Decision
I wouldn’t say that this win was enough to propel Emmett up the rankings, especially since it was unclear if he had even won this fight. That being said, he clearly doesn’t deserve to be fighting down the rankings. Since Kattar and Chikadze are scheduled to fight soon, that leaves Allen and the Korean Zombie. Since the Zombie just edged out the decision to Ige, it would make sense that Emmett takes that bout next. As for Ige, he still looked great; he’ll probably be getting someone like Mitchell, Burgos or Caceres next.
Main Card Action
Sean O’Malley vs. Raulian Paiva
The main card opened up with the HIGHLY anticipated return of ‘the Suga Sho’ Sean O’Malley who was facing Raulian Paiva. Both of these guys were on the edge of the rankings, but if you’ve been watching Suga at all, you’d know that he can quite easily compete with any ranked contender. O’Malley had an almost flawless record of 14-1; other than that fluke loss, he’s been absolutely dominant with 2 first round finishes, a third round finish against Almeida that should have been a first rounder (but he showboated and the ref didn’t stop the fight) and a record-breaking dominant beatdown over Moutinho. As for Paiva, he’s had a decent record lately with 3 wins in a row over Kyler Phillips, Zhumagulov and Mark de la Rosa, but had two losses in a row to open up his UFC career to Bontorin and Kai Kara-France. It should also be noted that, as always, O’Malley brought a slight reach advantage into this fight due to his unusual height for the division. My pick was pretty obvious here, but when someone is so clearly skilled, it’s an easy pick to make. A final tidbit to keep in mind, Paiva usually fights flyweights; being that O’Malley is a long and powerful bantamweights, this seemed like another slam-dunk KO for Suga.
O’Malley by Finish
It was a bit of a slow start with neither man wanting to make the first move, but as the round went on, Suga took over and used that extra crispy boxing to pick apart Paiva and push him against the fence to get another first round win.
Sean O’Malley def. Raulian Paiva by TKO in the 1st Round
If for some reason you were doubting Sean before this, how can you still doubt his talent at this point? A few weeks ago, Paiva was ranked 15th and Suga just beat him fairly easily in the 1st round again. Dana White said it himself, they need to pay him more and give him someone ranked. He taunted Garbrandt at the presser and got a ‘future promo’ face-to-face shot with him and honestly, after Cody’s performance this weekend, it would make a lot of sense to make this fight happen. Otherwise, there’s been a lot of talk between Suga and Yanez; that would also be a potential Fight of the Night bonus contender. Honestly, I’d actually like to see the rematch with Chito Vera next. Whatever happens next, it’ll be exciting!
Kai Kara-France vs. Cody Garbrandt
Here we had another exciting bout that could have been the main event of its own fight night. On one side we had Kai Kara-France who was ranked 6th in the flyweight division. On the other side was a UFC legend in Cody Garbrandt who was sitting in 7th in the bantamweight division. It took Kai a while to get to the UFC, but since getting here he’s only lost 2 of his 7 fights to Royval and the current champ, Moreno. Garbrandt, of course, was the much more experienced fighter in the UFC being that he was the Bantamweight Champion before Dillashaw beat him twice. Since then he’s had a rough record with losses to Rob Font and Pedro Munhoz but had a highlight reel win over Assuncao. If we went based on recent success, Kara-France was the clear choice, but there were a lot of factors that made this matchup more interesting. Of particular interest was the fact that Garbrandt competed at bantamweight but moved down to flyweight. This could have meant extra power which would swing the odds into his favour… but it may have also meant that the heavier weight cut could have weakened Cody’s cardio. This was a real coin toss, but I sided with Garbrandt on this one because I thought he’d bring a bit of extra power. Also, I thought the talent at bantamweight was so stacked that Garbrandt would have a much easier time competing in this division.
Garbrandt by Decision
This was another close fight for as long as it lasted. But, after stumbling Cody on multiple occasions, Kai kept up the pressure and dropped him one final time to get a first round TKO win and shock the MMA community.
Kai Kara-France def. Cody Garbrandt by TKO in the 1st Round
After dominating a former bantamweight champ like Cody Garbrandt like that, Kai can’t be ignored. He’s only got two losses in the UFC: Brandon Royval and Brandon Moreno. Why not try and avenge both of those losses? Beat Royval and then go for Moreno. As for Cody, it’s unclear whether this outcome was partially due to his weight cut. If he wants to stay at flyweight, he’d probably be fighting someone exciting like Manel Kape. Following that same logic, if he were to fight someone at bantamweight, the money fight that would make the most sense, as I mentioned before, would be Suga Sean. But with the division the way it is, it would make sense to see him with Cruz, Moraes, Vera, Yadong or even Edgar, they ALL have big names.
Geoff Neal vs. Santiago Ponzinibbio
In another razor-thin matchup we had Neal in 12th and Ponzinibbio in 14th in the division. Neal had struggled lately with 2 losses to Magny and ‘Wonderboy’ Thompson. As for Santiago, he only had 1 loss since 2015 and that was to Li earlier this year. Outside their record, they were similar in age and reach but Neal came out slightly ahead there. On paper, this was a tight matchup, but just based on his record, Santiago edged ahead for me. He only had 1 loss since 2015 and he was surely the more experienced fighter. Since it was close I predicted a decision, but either man was capable of a KO.
Ponzinibbio by Decision
This one was dead-even for the entire 15 minute bout. The only moments that stood out were a short takedown by Ponzinibbio in the 2nd and a late flurry from Neal in the 3rd. It was a tough one for the judges to decide, but they ended up giving a split decision win to Neal.
Geoff Neal def. Santiago Ponzinibbio by Split Decision
Amanda Nunes vs. Julianna Pena
The first title fight of the night featured the GWOAT, Amanda Nunes, and the 3rd ranked contender, Julianna Pena. Nunes was the current double-champ, she hadn’t lost since 2014; it just seemed inevitable that she was going to win whatever fight she walked into. Pena came in with 2 losses in her last 4, but to be fair, one of those was to Valentina. The other loss was to de Randemie last year. The question wasn’t IF Nunes would win… but HOW she would win. She’d had more decision wins recently, but that was to a featherweight, Spencer, and de Randamie who was notoriously tough. Because Nunes seemed to be hungrier than ever and really wanted to prove her dominance, I thought she’d be getting a finish this time. Plus, it should be noted that both of Pena’s losses that were mentioned earlier were by submission and Nunes is an expert on the ground.
Nunes by Finish
Right off the bat, the power difference was clear with the champ landing 2 knockdowns in the first couple minutes. But after the first round, things took a shocking turn for the double-champ. Pena stumbled Nunes with some big shots and ended up getting her to the ground. It was then that the MMA world was flipped upside down! With a submission attempt that didn’t even look too deep, the GWOAT was dethroned in the 2nd round! Like most people, I was in shock; I couldn’t believe what I had seen.
Julianna Pena def. Amanda Nunes by Submission in the 2nd Round
There’s literally only one way this should (and will) go; a rematch. When you’re as wildly talented as Nunes and when it’s immediately considered one of the biggest upsets in the history of the sport, the only response is a rematch. Although this was an astonishing performance from Pena and it was by no means a fluke, I think we all kind of saw a different, less prepared Nunes. I can’t help but think she didn’t take this fight seriously and didn’t respect the skills of Pena and paid the price. In the rematch I think we see a very different, very angry, very SCARY Amanda Nunes.
Charles Oliveira vs. Dustin Poirier
Finally, we had the hotly anticipated lightweight title fight between the champ, Oliveira, and the number 1 contender, Dustin Poirier. Because of all the hype, many were favouring Poirier; I don’t have to mention it, anyone with an internet connection knew he beat McGregor twice in a row. That was obviously impressive; so was his win over Hooker. Before that, he lost the title to Khabib. As for Oliveira, he’d always been one of the most underrated fighters on the roster, even with the belt and a 9 fight win streak. that included Chandler and Ferguson in his last two fights. This one, yet again, was a toss-up. Poirier had all the hype and he likely had an edge on the feet. That being said, don’t forget that Oliveira beat Chandler by TKO, a feat that even Gaethje couldn’t do last month. But we all knew the real advantage was in Oliveira’s ground game where he had the UFC record locked up with 14 submission wins. Both fighters had a great chance of winning; I went with the current champ, the underrated, well-rounded powerhouse, Charles Oliveira.
Oliveira by Decision
This thrilling title fight was reminiscent of Oliveira’s last fight that brought him the belt. In the first round, Poirier was winning the standup battle, rocking Oliveira a couple times. In the second round though, we saw why Oliveira is so dangerous; he got Dustin to the ground and controlled him for the whole round. In fact, Poirier was so mindful of Charles’ skills on the ground, his plan was just to stall the fight and hold Charles until the round was done. In the third, Poirier just couldn’t handle those Jiu-Jitsu skills anymore and Oliveira used one of his legendary submissions to defend the belt and add to his UFC records.
Charles Oliveira def. Dustin Poirier by Submission in the 3rd Round
It seems as though the title shot for Gaethje is all but signed with all parties, including Dana White, agreeing that that move makes the most sense. As for Poirier, he’s been talking about moving up a weight division into welterweight, possibly fighting Colby. If not, he’s got some great prospects at lightweight like Chandler, another rematch with Conor or even perhaps RDA since we haven’t seen him in a while. In the case of Conor, it may even make sense to do the rematch at welterweight, Conor’s been getting absolutely massive in his rehab, plus, it adds a new interesting dimension to the matchup.
BLÜ’s Record for the Night
Main Card: 2-3
KO of the Night: Tai Tuivasa
Sub. of the Night: Julianna Pena
Brawl of the Night: Oliveira vs. Poirier
Most Valuable Fighters
There’s absolutely nobody who deserves the title of Most Valuable Fighter this weekend more than Pena. She pulled off one of the biggest upsets in UFC history against Nunes who’s widely considered the GWOAT in combat sports. Not only that, but it wasn’t a fluke; she may have gotten rocked a couple times but she did that to get in close to bring the fight to Nunes which is what led to her getting the win.