Five reasons you can't afford to miss UFC 269: Oliveira vs Poirier this weekend on BT Sport

A scintillating lightweight title clash, the greatest female fighter of all time and a welterweight contest sure to please the casuals... there's plenty going on at UFC 269!

By George Mills Published: 8 December 2021 - 9.34pm

What a year of mixed martial arts it’s been on BT Sport!

There’s been no shortage of drama and action with champions crowned, old titans fading and new superstars emerging onto the world stage.

But it’s not over yet! We’ve got one more cracking numbered card to bring you this weekend – and you don’t want to miss it.

Headlined by a must-see lightweight title showdown between the UFC’s Cinderella man Charles Oliveira and fan favourite Dustin Poirier, the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas will be at fever pitch when the two men make their Octagon walks on Saturday night.

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Elsewhere on the card, Amanda Nunes returns to action to defend her bantamweight title against fellow Brazilian Julianna Pena, Geoff Neal and Santiago Ponzinibbio trade leather at welterweight and former bantamweight champ Cody Garbrandt makes his flyweight debut.

On top of that, rising bantamweight star Sean O’Malley kicks off the main card, while Dominick Cruz takes on Pedro Munhoz in a 135lb affair sure to entertain on the prelims.

There’s so much to look forward to this weekend – and here are five reasons you can’t afford to miss it live on BT Sport 2HD on Saturday night!

King Charles begins his reign

Charles Oliveira capped a remarkable career renaissance by securing the lightweight title in a pulsating affair against Michael Chandler earlier this year.

In doing so, the Brazilian extended his winning run to nine – a staggering turnaround for a man who had won just 10 of his previous 19 fights prior.

But against all the odds, the 32-year-old now reigns over arguably the most competitive division in the UFC.

In beating Chandler for the belt at UFC 262, Oliveira also broke the record for the most ever finishes in the promotion’s history, moving clear of Donald Cerrone, 16, to stand alone with 17.

“I think I have way more weapons than him”
- Charles Oliveira

However, some have suggested Oliveira still has something to prove to confirm his status as the undisputed top dog of the lightweight division – a notion the man himself strongly disagrees with.

“No one has such a gigantic winning streak like me, nine in a row with only one decision — and you all saw it, you can’t debate it,” Oliveira told Trocacao Franca podcast last month.

“Many people say I have to beat Dustin to prove I’m the champion. I am the champion. I won [the belt] earlier this year and I’ll defend my belt now.

 “On [December] 11, we’ll be there to prove who’s best and who’s not the best.

“There’s not much to say. We’ll only know when we face each other. I trust myself, I believe myself. I think I have way more weapons than him.

“All you guys that think [he’s No. 1], watch his last fight and watch my last fight, see what I’m good at and what he’s good at, and match it all up to see what happens.”

Will Oliveira’s reign begin with the biggest scalp of his career yet?

Do or die for The Diamond

Dustin Poirier will have his second shot at the undisputed UFC lightweight title on Saturday night, more than two years after being defeated against Khabib Nurmagomedov at UFC 242.

A perennial contender in the 155lb division, Poirier’s record stands him apart from most of his contemporaries having shared the Octagon with a killer’s row of opponents in recent times.

Since 2016, only Khabib has managed to repel Poirier’s grit, bravery and sheer force of will.

But Poirier is not short on technical ability either; under the tutelage of long-time coach Mike Brown at American Top Team, 'The Diamond' looks to have improved with the pressure of every fight.

“I think it’s going to be a tremendous fight”
- Michael Bisping

Now, at the age of 32, and with more experience in the UFC than most other fighters will ever accumulate, the stage looks set for Poirier to finally realise a dream and conquer the lightweight division.

And speaking on BT Sport’s Fight Week UFC 269 preview show, former UFC middleweight king Michael Bisping is tipping 'The Diamond' to do exactly that.

“I just feel like [it is] the moment for Dustin Poirier after the journey that he has been on and the people that he has beaten along the way,” Bisping said.

“I spoke to Dustin Poirier after that loss to Khabib Nurmagmedov and I could see a look in his eye. Ever since then the run he has been on and how great he is doing… for me, it’s impossible to doubt him.

“I think it’s going to be a tremendous fight. I think there will be a finish and I’ve got that finish coming by way of ground-and-pound from Dustin Poirier. I think he’s going to drop him, he’s going to follow him down and finish him.”

The Lioness roars back into action

Amanda Nunes looks to extend her winning streak to 13 fights on the spin when she defends one of her two world titles at UFC 269 against Julianna Pena.

It is the bantamweight throne for which Nunes goes to war this time around in what will be her eighth defence of the belt – and it is hard to see how anyone can stop her at this point.

Already regarded as the finest female fighter of all time, Nunes can add another chapter to a memorable legacy being written in front of our eyes with a dominant display in Las Vegas.

Cat Zingano was the latest woman to triumph over the Brazilian queen in 2014 but since then, Nunes has fought and defeated the likes of Miesha Tate, Valentina Shevchenko, Ronda Rousey, Holly Holm and Germaine de Randamie.

She also has the most wins of any woman to have competed in the UFC and has the most knockout wins in women’s UFC bantamweight history.

“Amanda Nunes is the GWOAT for a reason, she’s unified multiple weight divisions, defending in multiple weight divisions – but she’s not fought at bantamweight since 2019,” BT Sport’s Nick Peet said on our Fight Week preview show.

“Is that the door being cracked open slightly [for Pena] that she might struggle at the weight slightly? She’s never struggled at the weight before and she’s a consummate professional, but this is what Pena and her team need to be thinking.

“They can’t worry about what version of Amanda Nunes turns up, they’ve just got to hope that a version of Amanda Nunes turns up that allows them to just have a small opportunity into this game.”

Witness history in the making as a true great returns to the Octagon once more on Saturday night.

Bombs away!

Two men battling to rediscover early career momentum face off in a welterweight clash that could steal the show on Saturday night as Geoff Neal takes on Sergio Ponzinibbio.

Neal roared into the welterweight reckoning with five straight UFC wins after joining the promotion, but has progress since has been blighted by serious health issues.

In 2020, the Fortis MMA charge revealed he almost died after contracting sepsis and after subsequent losses to Stephen ‘Wonderboy’ Thompson and Neil Magny, Neal admitted he needed more time away from the sport to complete his recovery.

More than seven months on from that defeat to Magny, ‘Handz of Steel’ is ready to rediscover the same potential that saw him make a charge up the 170lb rankings.

But the story is a similar one for Neal’s opponent on Saturday night with Ponzinibbio also hoping the recent struggles with injury and ill-health that kept him sidelined for two years are emphatically behind him.

The Argentine banger makes his third appearance of the year looking to end 2021 on a high by recapturing the sort of form that helped him accumulate seven straight wins prior to defeat against Li Jingliang in January.

If five knockouts in his last nine fights had not yet made Ponzinibbio appointment viewing for any MMA fan, then his breathtaking three-round war against Miguel Baeza last time out will have done.

The 35-year-old has also pocketed a performance bonus on three of his last five Octagon walks and with chance to boost momentum towards the top 10 ahead of a huge 2022, Ponzinibbio will be going all guns blazing to get the job done against a dangerous opponent this weekend.

Don’t miss this one!  

The Suga Show returns!

Popular bantamweight Sean O’Malley kicks things off on the main card against Raulian Paiva with an opportunity to crack the top 15 ahead of what he hopes will be a breakout year in 2022.

The 27-year-old always puts on a show for the fans, pocketing five bonuses in his six UFC tilts to date including a Fight of the Night effort against Kris Moutinho last time out that saw O’Malley land 230 significant strikes – the second most ever in a three-round UFC fight.

He’ll look to put on a similar exhibition against former flyweight-turned-135lber Paiva, who comes into the bout riding a three-fight win streak.

The Brazilian survived a thrilling first round against Kyler Phillips on his bantamweight debut last time out to snatch victory on the scorecards but he’ll need to step his game up against one of the hottest prospects in the division.

Never short on confidence, O’Malley predicted another entertaining night ahead for the fans when the two fighters meet.

“I'm going to go out there and fight Paiva, a dangerous opponent, one of the tougher guys I've fought, for sure - but it doesn't matter. I'll finish him, and that's what is supposed to happen,” O’Malley told ESPN.

“It's the Suga Show. I'm supposed to go out and finish him.”