UFC 284 Prelim Card
We begin proceedings with lightweight action as Zubaira Tukhugov takes on Elves Brenner. This should be a straightforward win for the experienced Tukhugov over the Brazilian.
Shane Young and Blake Bilder collide in a featherweight battle. It’s a close fight, but the more experienced Young that will have the New Zealanders in attendance cheering him on should emerge victorious.
UFC debuting Loma Lookboonmee meets Elise Reed in women's strawweight action. Expect a win from the favorite Lookboonmee to get a win repping Thailand.
Jack Jenkins faces Don Shainis in a featherweight bout. Jenkins will have a home crowd advantage and should get the victory in this outing.
Lightweights collide as Jamie Mullarkey faces the unbeaten Francisco Prado. Oddsmakers expect Prado to suffer his first professional defeat leaving the Australians cheering for their fighter’s win.
Shannon Ross takes on Kleydson Rodrigues in a flyweight tilt. Brazilian Rodrigues should come out on top against the Australian.
Joshua Culibao faces Melsik Baghdasaryan in a featherweight battle. Culibao has won two consecutive bouts in the Octagon while “The Gun” has won seven bouts in a row overall. This is virtually a pick ‘em that I think Baghdasaryan gets the decision.
Tyson Pedro faces Modestas Bukauskas in a light heavyweight encounter. Pedro, who is experiencing a resurgence in his career will face the late replacement. Bukauskas became the Cage Warriors Champion after leaving the UFC but will find it a real challenge to beat the Australian that is a massive favorite.
UFC 284 Main Card
Crute (12-3) v Menifield (13-3)
Light heavyweights kick off the action on the main card as Australia’s Jimmy Crute faces Alonzo Menifield. Crute has been on a rough patch recently following knockout defeats to Anthony Smith and recently crowned champ Jamahal Hill.
The #12 ranked LHW will be looking to snap his losing streak with a win over Menifield, who has won two straight and four of his last five overall. Crute is a big favorite to win at home, but I like a play on the American at these odds.
Tafa (5-3) v Porter (13-7)
The only heavyweight fight on the card sees New Zealand's Justin Tafa battle Parker Porter. Tafa will look to embark on a winning streak after enduring a rough start to his UFC career. The New Zealander suffered a knockout defeat in his debut against Yorgan de Castro before losing two of his next three outings.
He did return to the win column with a knockout win over Harry Hunsucker in December last year and has a good shot of making it two in a row. Porter is coming off a loss, but did win his last three prior. That said, Tafa is slightly favored in what should be an entertaining bout.
Della Maddalena (13-2) v Brown (16-4)
The potential sleeper of the entire card is a welterweight affair between rising star Jack Della Maddalena and Randy Brown. The Australian Maddalena is 3-0 in the UFC with his latest win being a TKO victory over Danny Roberts in November. He will look for arguably his biggest win yet when he faces Brown.
Brown has won his last four in a row with his most recent outing being a unanimous decision win over lightweight veteran Francisco Trinaldo. The Jamaican Brown is a veteran in comparison to Della Maddalena, but I don’t see any reason that Maddalena doesn’t get the win.
Rodriguez (15-3, 1NC) v Emmett (18-2)
The first of two title fights sees Yair Rodriguez battle Josh Emmett for the interim featherweight crown. Rodriguez is coming off an anticlimactic TKO win over Brian Ortega in July to rebound from his decision defeat to Max Holloway. Overall, he has lost just once in his last four outings and given Alexander Volkanovski's dominance over all top-ranked fighters in the division, could be a fresh opponent if the champ moves back down.
The same can be said for Emmett who is on a five-fight winning streak following wins over Michael Johnson, Mirsad Bektic, Shane Burgos, Dan Ige, and Calvin Kattar. Rodriguez is the better and flashier striker with possibly a better chin, while Emmett carries more power and offers a wrestling threat. With that said, Emmett prefers to stand and bang, and with Rodriguez’s huge improvements in his dynamic stand-up attack comes in as the favorite.
Emmett has been targeting the title, and I like the American to land big shots to finish Rodriquez for the upset win.
Makhachev (23-1) v Volkanovski (25-1)
The headliner sees featherweight king Alexander Volkanovski attempt to become a two-weight champion when he challenges for Islam Makhachev’s lightweight title. Volkanovski is coming off arguably his most impressive victory yet after comfortably defeating Max Holloway in their trilogy fight back in July.
Overall, Volkanovski has four title defenses at 145 pounds and remains undefeated in the UFC with a 12-0 record. Given his dominance at featherweight and the fact that Makhachev called him out, Volkanovski is now making the move up to 155 pounds in an attempt to not only win a title in another division, but maintain his position as the pound-for-pound best fighter in the world.
Makhachev is after that pound-for-pound accolade which led to the callout once he became the new lightweight champion after submitting Charles Oliveira in October. That win made it 11 in a row for Makhachev while he is 12-1 overall in the UFC.
With that said, he lacks the names on his resume compared to someone like Khabib Nurmagomedov. Beating a name like Volkanovski would certainly do wonders for his reputation, even with the size advantage he carries against the Aussie.
Volkanovski is confident he has skills to stop Makhachev’s wrestling and impose his own game during the fight. However, the size difference may simply prove to be too much and Makhachev is unsurprisingly a massive betting favorite in this contest. If you’ve seen the two facing off against each other, their statures are of two different sizes.
I’ve picked several underdogs on this card, and I’d put a play on the long shot here. The Australian has unstoppable cardio and pressure with good take-downs. Although he is 4 inches shorter, “The Great” has a longer reach, and I see a path for the Australian to win by decision.
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About Ryan O’Leary
Ryan O’Leary is a veteran mixed martial arts journalist and commentator. The Swedish-based writer is the founder and editor at MMAViking.com, which is the premier source for Nordic mixed martial arts news since 2008.