UFC 289 betting, odds: How to bet Amanda Nunes-Irene Aldana main event

The UFC heads back to Vancouver, British Columbia, for UFC 289 Saturday night. The 11-fight pay-per-view will be headlined by the greatest women’s fighter of all time. Amanda Nunes returns to the Octagon to face 5th-ranked Irene Aldana. This will be Nunes' first title defense since recapturing the bantamweight strap last summer, when she avenged a submission loss to Julianna Peña that snapped her streak of seven consecutive title defenses.

The loss was a stark reminder that the even most dominant champions are human. The -1200 price tag on "The Lioness" that night could have set a record for the most parlays busted in one night. Nunes was back to her dominant self in the rematch, but the shocking upset from 18 months ago still sits in the mind of every MMA bettor. Nunes’ few minutes of mortality has certainly impacted the betting action on the UFC’s main event. Let's break down the fight.

VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA - JUNE 08: Amanda Nunes of Brazil is seen during the UFC 289 press conference at Rogers Arena on June 08, 2023 in Vancouver, British Columbia. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)
Amanda Nunes of Brazil promotes her fight during the UFC 289 news conference at Rogers Arena on June 8, 2023, in Vancouver, British Columbia. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images) (Jeff Bottari via Getty Images)

Amanda Nunes (-350) vs. Irene Aldana (+260)

Most bettors will agree that the best version of Nunes covers this price easily, but the money coming in on Aldana signals not everyone is convinced that’s who we are going to see. At this point in her career, Nunes is just adding to her legacy. With motivation being a question mark, it’s hard to get behind laying -350. I never like to lay big prices on fighters that have one eye on life outside of the Octagon, and Nunes seems to be living her best outside of the cage.

Aldana poses a unique threat. She is one of the few fighters in the division who has the power to pose danger to Nunes in the pocket. Both fighters are of a similar size. Aldana gives up an inch in reach, but gets it back in height. Nunes has historically been able to bully her opponents, but she won't have to go far to hunt down Aldana. The challenger's willingness to stand and trade is an enticing trait for a +260 underdog, but her negative strike differential (-.32 significant strikes per minute) is a massive concern against Nunes. The champ has devastating power for the division — power that Aldana has not felt — and leaving her chin up at the centerline will have severe consequences. That's one major factor that backed me off believing Aldana could pull off the upset.

Live betting is a solid option

The million-dollar question: Which version of Nunes will show up? You should be able to tell in two minutes, if not sooner. There is always the risk of prime Nunes completely mauling her before you bet her moneyline. Since battering Miesha Tate at UFC 200 for the bantamweight belt, five of Nunes' 10 wins have ended in Round 1, with the rest at least entering the fifth round. Aldana is as tough as they come, so she should be able to hang in there long enough to decide which fighter you want to back.

Best bet and how it correlates with the total

I don’t think either fighters’ moneyline price provides enough value to get me comfortable. I am not expecting the Nunes that clobbered Cris Cyborg in 51 seconds, but I don’t think we are getting the one that relinquished her title to Pena either. I am banking on a mature Nunes, excited to put on a show against a dangerous opponent as her career winds down. Nunes' greatest advantage is her grappling and exposing Aldana’s takedown defense. Sometimes the best offense is defense and putting Aldana on her back eliminates her most dangerous weapons. Aldana finishing Macy Chiasson with a liver kick from her back was impressive, but I will take my chances she won’t catch lightning in a bottle again.

I bet Nunes to win by submission at +500 for a quarter of a unit. I don’t love the fight from a bettor's perspective, and this is a way for me to invest a small stake with an opportunity to win 1.25 units in return. It also leaves me the option to bet the fight live if an opportunity presents itself. You can play Nunes inside the distance to cover the knockout at -140, or over 2.5 rounds at -120. If Nunes enters the fight intent on grappling, it makes sense Aldana may be able to fend off some of the early attempts and eat up clock in the early rounds. Ultimately, I expect the champion to grind her down, lock in a sub and force the tap. Bet: Nunes via submission (+500)