The new UFC lightweight champion Islam Makhachev will face the holder of the featherweight belt Alexander Volkanovski at UFC 284 Australia. The event will be held on Volkanovski's regional territory but in Makhachev's weight class of comfort. While the main event will likely be one for the books, the entire fight card is stacked with massive bouts between star prospects and UFC legends. Here are our predictions for UFC 284: Makhachev vs Volkanovski.
UFC 284: FULL CARD PREDICTIONS
SHANNON ROSS VS KLEYDSON RODRIGUES
The 33 year old Australian fighter from Queensland has a professional record of 13-6 and this will be his UFC debut. Shannon Ross had already tried to enter the organization through the Contender Series last year, but lost by knockout to Vinicius Salvador in the second round.
Ross trains in a little-known CMBT Training Center where there is not a single famous fighter. It's hard to say what his style is, every performance of Shannon turns into a street fight, where he gets a lot of damage. Standing, Ross is unremarkable, he has no knockout punch, his defense is terrible, yet he keeps his hands on his belt.
Kleydson Rodrigues has a professional record of 7-2; he earned a UFC contract after dominating Santo Curatolo at the Contender Series. The 27 year old Brazilian made his debut in May last year against CJ Vergara and lost by a split decision, unfairly, the judges robbed him, in my opinion. (Curatola actually thought he lost the fight, he admitted at the post-fight presser.) Kleydson finished five opponents out of seven victories. Rodrigues is a skilled striker and a good grappler, his best shots are kicks. He trains in Rio de Janeiro, at the Team Nogueira gym.
ROSS VS RODRIGUES PREDICTION
If Rodriguez comes to the fight at UFC 284 in optimal shape and acclimatization is successful after the flight, then he should easily finish the local fighter. The Brazilian is creative on the stand, while Ross has a weak jaw and holds his hands low, was hit and dropped several times by Salvador, and Donavon Frelow also knocked him down.
YAIR RODRIGUEZ VS JOSH EMMETT
We all marveled at how Rodriguez put in place the trickster Jeremy Stepehens who faked an eye poke in their first fight (Sept. 2019).
Then it seemed that after a couple of fights, Rodriguez would definitely get his title, but the Mexican did not pass the Max Holloway test (Nov. 2021) and later almost lost his place in the rankings.
The victory over Brian Ortega gave him one last chance to break into the title race, and the fight with the 37 year old Josh Emmett should go without any problems. The 30 year old Rodriguez, as always, will bet on footwork. He will combine double one-way jabs with simultaneous high kicks. It should be quite an effective move against the undersized Emmett, who clearly cannot block all these attacks.
If it comes to a clinch at UFC 284 then Rodriguez has something to surprise his opponent with: at least the level of his defense against takedowns and physical strength, thanks to which he actively resisted Ortega's attempts.
Emmett has an excellent record, at 18-2; he debuted in 2011 and for UFC in 2016. Emmett has always been a cool and reserved fighter who knew how to win with decisions in the 3rd round. Having moved to the upper levels of the division, he suddenly lost by decision to Desmond Green, and then by knockout to Jeremy Stephens in 2018.
He's on a five fight win streak, but in order to seriously talk about actual title chances, he must not only tactically beat Yair but rather destroy him and finish the fight ahead of schedule. And this can be problematic. Josh's last three fights lasted the whole distance. In many ways, Emmett's strong head, as well as his sagging stamina, contributed to this. His only chance to win is instant pressure near the net and aggressive attempts to transfer to the ground. Emmett definitely should not stagnate in front of Yair, and even more so try to interrupt him for all 3 rounds. Closing the distance and close overhands are Josh's main helpers in this fight at UFC 284.
RODRIGUEZ VS EMMETT PREDICTION
Even though Yair hasn't gotten rid of the habit of making dangerous exchanges, I still consider him a favorite. Moreover, bookmakers give such high odds for such an outcome. Rodriguez is many times faster and more accurate than Emmett standing up. In addition, Emmett's absolutely dead footwork will only play into the hands of the Mexican, who will harshly target his legs and head already in the first round.
There will also be a lot of clinches, Rodriguez can’t get away from this. But I'm sure that with his wide stance and physical strength, he will be able to defend against Josh's transfers for a long time and eventually tire him out.
At the same time, I cannot say that Yair will certainly try to bring the fight at UFC 284 to the decision of the judges and will not take risks. On the contrary, he will do everything to finish the opponent in the third round, I think.
JIMMY CRUTE VS ALONZO MENIFIELD
Jimmy Crute is a young Australian fighter, only 23 years old, and already has an impressive 12-3-0 record and experience in confrontations with strong opponents. Jimmy is a former Australian Hex Fight Series Light Heavyweight Champion. Having amassed a good record, Crute tried his hand at Dana White's Contender Series show and won by knockout in the first round, which impressed the head of the organization and forced the latter to give a contract to the young prospect. Since then, Crute has had seven fights and won four. Most recently, he lost to Jamahal Hill but that fight was all the way back in 2021. Since then, he has not fought.
With a 13-3-0 record, Menifield is one of the brightest prospects in the light heavyweight division. Despite relatively little experience, the American already has victories over Vinicius Moreira and Paul Craig, and his most recent wins were against Askar Mozharov and Misha Circunov. He has nine fights in the UFC and won six of those.
The Texas native Menifield, age 35, is a basic puncher with good knockout power. Alonzo won both fights in the UFC via first-round knockouts. It is curious that in all 16 fights in professional MMA, the American has reached the scorecards only twice. Menifield's height is 185 cm with an arm span of 193 cm.
CRUTE VS MENIFIELD PREDICTION
Both Crute and Menifield turn on from the first seconds of the fight and strive for early victories, and this is what we expect from them in this bout too. The decisive factor in this fight at UFC 284 will be the striking power and while we see the potential in Crute, he has not fought in a year and a half. We think that there is value in betting on Menifield to win.
UFC 284: MAKHACHEV VS VOLKANOVSKI MAIN CARD PREDICTIONS
Islam Makhachev is the reigning UFC lightweight champion. The 31-year-old mixed martial artist has been undefeated since October 2015. Then the Russian lost in the first round to Adrian Martins from Brazil. After that, the athlete from Dagestan won 11 victories in a row. He occupies the second line of the official UFC ranking among the best fighters, regardless of the weight category. He has 24 wins (five by knockout) and one loss.
Makhachev was engaged in combat sambo, judo and freestyle wrestling. He won his championship title in October 2022 in a duel with the Brazilian Charles Oliveira (submission).
Alexander Volkanovski occupies the first line of the UFC ranking among the best fighters, regardless of weight category. The 34-year-old Australian is the reigning UFC featherweight champion and black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. He also practiced kickboxing and Greco-Roman wrestling. He has 25 wins (12 by knockout) and one loss.
Volkanovski has been able to defend the championship belt five times already. Alex defeated American Max Holloway three times, as well as Brian Ortega from the USA and South Korean Jung Chang Son.
Immediately after the fight with Oliveira, Islam called Alex to the cage with the phrase: “Where is this small guy? I do not see him.” The Russian frankly hinted at the difference in height and size between them. Still, Volkanovski is lower by as much as 10 centimeters. However, with such a gap in growth, the fighters still have an identical arm span.
MAKHACHEV VS VOLKANOVSKI BETTING ODDS COMPARISON
It is unlikely that anyone counted on close odds: after a bright victory over Oliveira, Islam logically became the favorite of the bookmakers by a significant margin. You can bet on Makhachev to win this fight at around 1/4 (1.25) right now, which does not make any sense unless you are placing very high stakes.
No matter how good the Australian is at featherweight, analysts understand that comparing his past opponents with Makhachev is outright stupidity. Volkanovski is about to face the toughest fight of his entire MMA career at UFC 284. Therefore, the odds for Volkanovski to win the fight right now revolve around 3/1 (4.00).
MAKHACHEV VS VOLKANOVSKI PREDICTION
Makhachev is the undisputed favorite of the upcoming fight at UFC 284. It's hard to disagree with the bookmakers although Volkanovski is one of the greatest fighters in the world right now. But he is going to a higher category and he was already rather small for even his previous category, featherweight. And even though he is a solid wrestler, Makhachev is an absolute monster on the canvas. Makhachev won the last five fights in the UFC ahead of schedule: four times by surrender and once by technical knockout.
Unlike the fight with Oliveira, this time Islam will no longer work as the second number all the time. To begin with, he needs to understand how quickly Alex will break the distance and at what moments it is worth throwing the hooks for a counterattack.
In general, it is worth noting how strong the blow of Islam has become. He invests in every attack, brings the strike to perfect timing and does not allow the enemy to stagnate in front of him in a relaxed way. At the beginning of the fight, we will possibly be waiting for several minutes for an exchange of blows in the stance, after which Makhachev will still transfer the fight to the ground. The Russian will rely on physical strength and control on the ground and will try, if not to strangle, then definitely wear out the Wolf at UFC 284.