Days out from the UFC’s return to Canada for the first time since before the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s becoming evident that the ‘people’s main event’ has emerged as the penultimate fight on the pay-per-view card.
UFC 289, set for the Rogers Arena in Vancouver, Canada, this Saturday, will be headlined by the first defense of Amanda Nunes’ second bantamweight reign. She’ll meet Mexico’s Irene Aldana in the Octagon following Julianna Peña’s withdrawal.
But much of the fight week attention has been on the co-main event, which will see former UFC lightweight champion Charles Oliveira and in-form contender Beneil Dariush battle for the chance to dethrone Islam Makhachev.
In the buildup, predictions and picks have appeared largely split. And the close nature of the matchup has been further hammered home by one of the promotion’s very best.
Alexander Volkanovski Gives His Pick For ‘Very Close’ Charles Oliveira vs. Beneil Dariush Fight
During a recent video uploaded to his YouTube channel, UFC Featherweight Champion Alexander Volkanovski provided his assessment of the upcoming PPV co-headliner.
The Australian, who returned to the 155-pound division this past February for the first time since 2016, echoed the sentiments of many in suggesting that leaning one way or the other is incredibly difficult.
“This is an interesting one, man. This is a massive fight,” Volkanovski said. “I think this is the right fight for both of them in their careers. Charles Oliveira, looking for a statement to make on the next guy… It’s gonna be a fun one. Beneil is very well rounded. His style, and Charles’, is gonna make this a fun fight. I think this is gonna be a firefight. Beneil is the favorite, and he probably should be.
“We all know Charles can get the finish, submission and TKO. Submitting Dariush, I feel like is gonna be hard,” Volkanovski continued. “If I had to take a pick, probably the best value, go with Charles, going the TKO maybe. I can see that happening. I can see Dariush winning as well. Beneil can even finish Charles… My pick would be a Charles Oliveira TKO. Charles has something to prove. He wants that title back and I think he’s gonna go out there and come swinging… Very close fight, cannot wait. It’s pretty even, I’m almost 50/50 on it… Leaning to (Oliveira) as a (good value betting) pick, leaning to Beneil for the win.”
In a few days’ time, we’ll find out whether the fight delivers in the competitive fashion that many are expecting. Either way, with both men appearing motivated to secure a shot at gold later this year, the UFC 289 co-main event is set to be a high-stakes affair.