UFC 284 takes the big show back to Australia for one of the biggest, most significant main events in combat sports history: Islam Makhachev vs. Alexander Volkanovski.
hat’s clearly the biggest fight of the night, but the co-main between Yair Rodriguez and Josh Emmett will also be one of the best of the night. Since they’re back in Australia, we’ll also see quite a few Aussie fighters outside of the main event including Jack Della Maddalena, Justin Tafa, Jimmy Crute, Tyson Pedro and Joshua Culibao. Zubaira Tukhugov will be making his return as well as the veteran, Randy Brown.
Main Card (7:00 PM PST)
Jimmy Crute vs. Alonzo Menifield
Crute: -189 Menifield: +154
Over 1.5: +116 Under 1.5: -148
Based on talent, these guys seem to be pretty close. However, on paper, Menifield stands out as a fairly convincing pick. Menifield has grabbed two 1st Round finishes in a row and is a large, difficult fighter to deal with. Crute has been fighting better fighters, but has now been finished twice in a row in the 1st Round. Menifield is bigger and has all the momentum. Even though Crute is at home, Menifield is the clear choice and will likely get a finish.
Menifield by Finish
Justin Tafa vs. Parker Porter
Tafa: -125 Porter: +100
Over 2.5: +120 Under 2.5: -150
Similar to Tyson Pedro’s matchup earlier in the card, this seems to be a matchup that purposely favours the hometown favourite of Justin Tafa. It’s certainly a lot closer than Pedro’s matchup, but Porter is one of those heavyweights that only wins in decisions. That is because he’s not really a threat to Tafa and I expect Tafa to go in there and get a finish. Porter is a tough guy, so it may not be in the 1st Round, but it seems likely it’ll happen at some point.
Tafa by Finish
Randy Brown vs. Jack Della Maddalena
Brown: +250 Jack Della Maddalena: -325
Over 2.5: +120 Under 2.5: -150
The final explosive trio of fights begins at welterweight with the veteran, Randy Brown, and the young, Australian powerhouse, Jack Della Maddalena. Maddalena has been running through all of his opponents so far with three 1st Round knockouts in his first three UFC fights. Brown has been around much longer, with 14 fights in the UFC and 4 wins in a row. With these two guys matched up, it’s sure to be quite the brawl.
This one really could go either way. Either Brown will use his experience and grappling to shut down the power of Maddalena and win a decision OR we’ll see another devastating finish for the Australian. With it being about 50/50, the better choice seems to be the younger, more powerful, hometown favourite, Jack Della Maddalena.
Maddalena by Finish
Co-Main Event (Interim Featherweight Title Bout)
Yair Rodriguez vs. Josh Emmett
Rodriguez: -186 Emmett: +150
Over 4.5: -148 Under 4.5: +116
Although I maintain that this should not be for a title of any kind, this is still a VERY exciting matchup. Both guys love to get in wild brawls, so I expect some violence in this one. As for who’s going to take home the interim belt, it has to be Rodriguez. We’ll ignore his “win” over Ortega, but there’s no need to look any further than his loss to Holloway. Holloway is famous for his durability and striking… and Rodriguez actually made Holloway turn to grappling.
The top featherweights have been famous recently for going to decisions, so that’s what I expect in this matchup. Rodriguez is younger, scrappier and seemingly more skilled, so he should get the win.
Rodriguez by Decision
Main Event (Lightweight Title Bout)
Islam Makhachev vs. Alexander Volkanovski
Makhachev: -400 Volkanovski: +300
Over 2.5: -163 Under 2.5: +128
This is it; one of the biggest fights in combat sports history with the #1 and #2 Pound for Pound fighters in the UFC and MMA in general. While this is clearly a fight you won’t want to miss, the general consensus on the outcome seems to be a finish for Islam. I gave ‘Volk’ my BLÜ Bonus for the Most Valuable fighter of the year and it seems clear he could beat pretty much anyone between 145-155 pounds, but Islam is really the worst kind of matchup for him.
This fight will undoubtedly be close on the feet with Volkanovski more than likely winning the striking exchanges. The problems start for him if Islam gets the fight to the ground. When Islam moves his fights to the ground, his fights are over. We’ve seen that Alex is VERY difficult to take down, but with 5 rounds to work with, I can’t picture a world where Islam doesn’t grab a takedown.
When that happens, a finish is the most likely outcome. We even saw that exact scenario almost play out against Ortega. Ortega had him caught in a guillotine about two seconds away from a win with ‘Volk’ wriggling around for a final gasp of air. Somehow, he managed to slip out of it, but if that had been Islam, it would’ve been a completely different story. As a fan of Alex ‘the Great’, I’d love to see a new double-champ, but I’m expecting a finish for Makhachev.
Makhachev by Finish
BLU’s Prelim Picks (Prelims begin at 3:30 PM PST)
Tyson Pedro vs. Modestas Bukauskas
Pedro: -240 Bukauskas: +190
Over 1.5: -148 Under 1.5: +114
Here we have our classic easy win for the hometown hero that the UFC gives out out on PPVs. Pedro absolutely destroyed his last two opponents with two 1st Round wins. On the other side, Bukauskas was cut after losing 3 straight fights in the UFC. He’s now back after a couple of wins in Cage Warriors. This should be another early finish for Tyson Pedro.
Pedro by Finish
Joshua Culibao vs. Melsik Baghdasaryan
Culibao: -112 Baghdasaryan: -110
Over 2.5: -175 Under 2.5: +137
I’ve included this one because it’s got another hometown hero in Joshua Culibao, plus, it’s an exciting matchup. Culibao’s UFC record doesn’t seem all that impressive at 2-1-1. That being said, when you see that the loss was to a MONSTER of a lightweight Jalin Turner and his draw was to Charles Jourdain, it looks a lot better. As for Melsik, he’s undefeated in the UFC at 2-0, but hasn’t fought anyone noteworthy quite yet.
I went back and forth on this matchup, but after watching their last fights, this will come down to who’s the better striker. If you watch the film, there is no doubt that that’s Melsik. He’s a former kickboxer, he’s quicker, more skilled and throws heavy kicks that will wear Culibao down. Culibao is durable though, so a decision seems most likely.
Baghdasaryan by Decision
BLÜ’s Best Bets
Here I highlight some betting lines that you might want to take advantage of for UFC 284. These are odds that favour the bettor. Although some of them may conflict with my picks, they offer a fair reward for a slight bit of risk.
The Underdog Alonzo Menifield at +154
As mentioned above, this matchup is pretty close. That being said, Menifield is the one with all the momentum. He’s on a finishing strike and Crute is on a losing streak. At +154, may as well see if both of those streaks continue.
Tukhugov vs. Brenner Under 2.5 at +105
Tukhugov is extremely talented with multiple early finishes. On the other side, Brenner is making his UFC debut and has lost a few times to some questionable fighters recently. This is a huge mismatch and will very likely end in an early finish for ‘Zuba’.
The Underdog Alexander Volkanovski at +300
Everyone’s discussed the obvious advantages for Islam in this matchup, but we can’t forget that we’re talking about someone who’s already considered one of the greatest fighters of all time. I’m not saying to empty the bank on ‘Volk’ here, but at a line like +300, you might as well put a bit of cash down, just in case he shocks the world and breaks your parlays.
The Short Run
Tukhugov + Y. Rodriguez + Pedro
The Long Run
Tukhugov + K. Rodrigues + Pedro + Y. Rodriguez + Makhachev