UFC 284 Picks: Betting Advice and Analysis
It simply does not get much bigger in combat sports than this weekend’s headliner for UFC 284.
These types of occasions only ever seem to come around once in a generation, as the pound for pound No. 1 takes on the pound for pound No. 2 when Islam Makhachev puts his lightweight crown on the line against Alexander Volkanovski.
It could be the biggest fight of the year, and it’s only February. Here are our picks for this week's UFC event.
Islam Makhachev vs. Alexander Volkanovski
We will often see two men in the top five pound-for-pound rankings fight one another for the title, but to have first face off against second is a rarity. It also makes this fight a tough one to call, despite the odds being heavily in the favor of the champion, Makhachev.
The Russian has been on a rampage since his first loss in MMA to Adriano Martins in 2015. Eleven fights have passed since, and Makhachev has won them all through four decisions, two TKOs and five submissions - the latter includes his most recent triumph over the all-time leading UFC finisher to win the belt, Charles Oliveira.
A similar path has happened for Volkanovski, but he is currently on a 22-fight win streak that has seen him rack up three victories over the legendary Max Holloway and wins over stars like Brian Ortega and Jose Aldo.
The main factor in this one is the weight difference. Makhachev is already fairly big for the 155-pound division, and with him taking on a man from the division below, it’s clear to see why he is the favorite here. Combine this with his unrivaled wrestling and fantastic striking and this could end up being an easy night for the champion.
Volkanovski is sensational, however, and he is undoubtedly the pound-for-pound No. 1 right now and the greatest to ever fight at featherweight. On the other hand, stepping up to fight the champion of a bigger weight class is a different ball game and this could be another fight where Makhachev just wrestles him to the ground and wins via submission.
Islam Makhachev, by submission, is +145 with FanDuel.
Yair Rodriguez vs. Josh Emmett
As Volkanovski has moved up to lightweight for the time being at least, it leaves the UFC needing to find an interim title holder. This now falls on the shoulders of Yair Rodriguez and Josh Emmett.
Emmett is quite fortunate to be in this position. First, Holloway's recent loss to Volkanovski means he is not in the interim title discussions, while Emmett won a controversial split decision fight against Calvin Kattar and there are also fighters like Arnold Allen who probably deserve this shot more.
Nevertheless, the American is +138 and his best route to victory is via knockout. In truth, not many people outside of the light heavyweight and heavyweight divisions hit much harder than him, while he is also not on the level of Rodriguez’s sensational striking ability.
Rodriguez did lose to Holloway in late 2021 and earned this interim title shot because of Ortega's shoulder injury in their fight last July. However, Rodriguez has racked up a Fight of the Night bonus five times and a Performance of the Night bonus on three occasions and also registered memorable TKO/KO wins over B.J. Penn, Jung Chan-sung and Andre Fili.
Ten of Emmett's 16 wins have come via decision and six of Rodriguez's 14 victories have come in this manner, too. We think it will be the same outcome here in a fight that is incredibly tough to predict.
There is a chance Emmett gets a knockout win, but Rodriguez’s kicks and superior grappling likely force the judges’ scorecards into action.
Yair Rodriguez and Josh Emmett to go the distance is -158 with FanDuel.
Jack Della Maddalena vs. Randy Brown
In front of his own fans, Jack Della Maddalena will take on Randy Brown in an arena just a few miles from where he grew up. At 26, it's the biggest fight of Della Maddalena's career and one where he could rocket himself deep into the welterweight rankings.
So far in the UFC, the Australian has been excellent. He has beaten Pete Rodriguez, Ramazan Emeev and Danny Roberts already and all have come via TKO in the first round. In fact, from three UFC fights, Della Maddalena has had less than 10 minutes of cage time and moved his record to 13-2, with 11 of those 13 wins coming via TKO/KO.
This is by no means, however, an easy fight for Della Maddalena. Brown has lost only four times in his career and won 16 with an impressive record of six knockouts, five submissions and five decisions.
Because of the home advantage, we think Della Maddalena likely tries to take the head off his opponent here. It will be a surprise to see the fight go the distance (-200), and we think Della Maddalena will get the finish.
Jack Della Maddalena by KO/TKO is -110 with DraftKings.
Jimmy Crute vs. Alonzo Menifeld
Another 26-year-old Australian is on this UFC 284 card as Jimmy Crute looks to get back in the win column against Alonzo Menifeld after two losses in a row.
Crute was looking like a sensation when he came into the UFC with an 8-0 record. He then went on to submit the jiu-jitsu specialist in Australia, Paul Craig, before a fantastic TKO win over Sam Alvey. However, three losses in his next five fights mean he has dropped way out of the title talk. Simply put, whenever Crute has made a move to fight a well-ranked opponent, he has lost.
Nevertheless, the 26-year-old still has 12 wins in 15 fights and just three losses at a bright and young age in the sport. His two wins before losing two in a row to Anthony Smith and Jamahal Hill also earned him two Performance of the Night bonuses.
Menifeld has knocked out 10 of his 16 opponents to tally a 16-4 record. He could end up knocking out Crute here, but either way, we don't see how this goes the distance at -600.
Fight to end via KO/TKO is -115 with FanDuel.
Justin Tafa vs. Parker Porter
An MMA veteran meets a man with just eight fights in his career to kick off UFC 284, as Justin Tafa looks to make it 9-3 against Parker Porter.
The sportsbooks have this fight closely matched, but we only see a win for Tafa. Indeed, the Australian has struggled since coming into the UFC, winning just two of his five UFC bouts and losing the other three. One of those losses was a split decision, however, and the other a unanimous decision defeat, while Yorgan De Castro knocked him out on his debut.
At 29 and in front of his own fans, Tafa should get another knockout win. Porter is turning 38 soon and is coming off the back of a loss in the first round via submission to Jailton Almeida.
What's more, when Porter has faced a knockout artist, he has lost, as shown two years ago in a first-round defeat to Chris Daukaus.
Here, we expect UFC 284 to kick off in Perth, Australia, with a victory for one of its own.
Justin Tafa by KO/TKO is +170 with DraftKings.
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