The UFC returns to Perth, Australia for one of the biggest main event bouts in history as Alexander Volkanovski moves up to lightweight to challenge Islam Makhachev for the title.
The undisputed featherweight champion is currently ranked as the number one pound-for-pound fighter in the UFC, while Makhachev is ranked at number two, making this the first time the top two fighters in the company have gone head to head.
We’ll also see an interim featherweight champion crowned in Volkanovski’s absence from the 145-pound division, as Yair Rodriguez takes on Josh Emmett in an exciting fight too.
Last time out at UFC Vegas 68 we went 6/10 with three perfect picks (we don’t count draws) to move to 829/1287 (64.41%) with 340 perfect picks (41.01%). You can see our full pick history here.
We’ll look to improve on that here and after starting with the early prelims section of the card, then moving on to the rest of the prelims here, we finish up with our main card picks.
Jimmy Crute (12-3) vs Alonzo Menifield (13-3) – (Light Heavyweight/205lbs)
A very fun light heavyweight bout opens up the main card next. Crute has lost his last two after suffering a leg injury against Anthony Smith, before being KO’d cold by the new champion Jamahal Hill most recently in just 48 seconds. Menifield has won his last two alternatively, KO’ing both Askar Mozharov and Misha Cirkunov in the first round.
Crute is a tidy boxer, but it’s his excellent wrestling and incredibly top pressure that saw him break onto the scene in the UFC as a top prospect. Menifield is a striker with an absolute weapon of a right hand, but his overall skillset isn’t the most well-rounded and that’s a problem here. Crute’s chin has obviously shown that it can be cracked, and Menifield has the power to dent it further.
However Crute will know he has a clear route to victory in the grappling, and the likelihood is that he will need just one takedown per round to get it there and keep it there. Expect him to avoid the early hammer blow and take Menifield down early, before controlling for 15 minutes for a wide decision win.
PICK – Jimmy Crute via Decision
Justin Tafa (5-3) vs Parker Porter (13-7) – (Heavyweight/220-265lbs)
Heavyweights up next in a fight that doesn’t really belong on the main card of a pay-per-view if we’re being honest. Tafa has lost two of his last three, but earned a KO win over Harry Hunsucker last time out back in December 2021. Porter on the other hand was on a three-fight win streak with decisions over Josh Parisian, Chase Sherman and Alan Baudot before running into Jailton Almeida most recently and getting choked out in the first round.
Tafa is just a brawler, stepping forward and throwing bombs until he hits something and it drops. He’s got very good takedown defence so far throughout his career too, with a 100% defence rate. Porter is a bog-standard heavyweight who throws the odd strike with power and has a few leg kicks in his game too. He is an okay wrestler with good top control, and that’s probably where he’ll look to take this fight.
The only reason for this fight to be on the main card is because the UFC wants Tafa to land an explosive strike that folds Porter up and gets the crowd absolutely electrified. The chances are they’ll get it, but if they don’t this could be the longest 15 minutes of the night.
PICK – Justin Tafa via Knockout, Round 1
Jack Della Maddalena (13-2) vs Randy Brown (16-4) – (Welterweight/170lbs)
One of the best welterweight fights of the year so far between absolute stars. Maddalena is undefeated since losing his first two professional bouts, going 3-0 in the UFC with KO wins over Pete Rodriguez, Ramazan Emeev and Danny Roberts. Brown is on a four-fight win streak having submitted ‘Cowboy’ Alex Oliveira with a standing rear-naked choke, before earning decisions over Jared Gooden, Khaos Williams and Francisco Trinaldo most recently.
Maddalena is a phenomenal striker, with excellent power and boxing combinations as well as great cardio to keep up his all-action style throughout 15 minutes. Brown is an explosive striker with great power himself, but he’s also a very talented grappler and solid wrestler too. That wrestling could be key in this fight, because on the feet I probably edge it slightly in the Australian’s favour.
On the mat Brown is definitely the better grappler, but he’s not someone who uses the wrestling as his primary game plan much. If he chooses to do that, he could find success but it could also find him being more tired later in the fight than usual. If they go blow for blow on the feet then it’s a coin toss but with Maddalena in his own back yard and with all the hype and momentum behind him, I think he can get it done in a brilliant fight.
PICk – Jack Della Maddalena via Decision
Yair Rodriguez (15-3) vs Josh Emmett (18-2) – (Featherweight/145lbs)
A real sleeper of a fight in the co-main event as the interim featherweight title is on the line. Rodriguez ran Max Holloway really close back in November 2021, before beating Brian Ortega due to a shoulder injury to earn this shot. Emmett on the other hand is on a five-fight win streak, earning his title shot with a split decision win over Calvin Kattar last time out.
Rodriguez is one of the greatest strikers in the UFC, with an incredible array of kicks and some great power in his hands as well as incredibly explosive elbows and knees. He’s also got some more than decent wrestling defence to go with those kicks, meaning he can always use them. Emmett has moved away from his strong wrestling base in this win streak, landing great volume and power with his striking and using his cardio as a weapon. Stylistically this is a very interesting fight, because Emmett’s wrestling is a game changer but isn’t what got him to the dance.
In a striking battle I have no doubts that Rodriguez will win with ease and potentially get the finish with his counter striking and kicks. If Emmett wrestles though he has the chance to control the fight on the mat. For me however, Yair is good enough in scrambles to get back to his feet and he can do so much damage on the feet with his variety of striking that it would be a big shock to me if Yair didn’t leave Australia with the belt.
PICK – Yair Rodriguez via Decision
Islam Makhachev (23-1) vs Alexander Volkanovski (25-1) – (Lightweight/155lbs)
The best fight the UFC can make today takes place in the main event at UFC 284 as lightweight champion Islam Makhachev makes his first defence against current featherweight champion and number one ranked pound-for-pound fighter Alex Volkanovski. Makhachev is on an 11-fight win streak, winning the belt by submitting Charles Oliveira back at UFC 280 most recently. Volkanovski is on a 22-fight win streak, including 12-0 in the UFC, with a third win over Max Holloway last time out at UFC 276.
Makhachev is the best wrestler in the UFC pound-for-pound, with incredible trips and technique. But his striking abilities are largely overlooked and they have improved greatly in recent years, as he showed when he dropped Oliveira in their bout. Volkanovski is arguably the most well-rounded fighter in the company right now, with brilliant striking and boxing techniques to go with solid wrestling defence and offense and great movement. Stylistically this fight is insane, because Volkanovski is so good defensively and so powerful with insane heart some of the best cardio around.
But Makhachev does have a natural size advantage, despite Volk’s past as a rugby player. It’s the minor details that matter in this fight and while I don’t expect Makhachev to be able to take Volkanovski down and control him for long periods, I do expect takedowns to occur. While he’s working to get back up, he’s not doing any damage and that means Islam is winning and working for openings, so I think he takes the win just off his sheer size advantage. But do not be surprised if Volkanovski walks out of Perth as a double champion, because he’s one of the very best around.
PICK – Islam Makhachev via Decision