UFC 284 Predictions — Islam Makhachev vs. Alexander Volkanovski: Fight Card, Odds, Preview, Expert Picks

Two of the UFC’s best clashed Saturday night in a champion-versus-champion superfight in the main event of UFC 284. Featherweight champion Alexander Volkanovski will move up to the lightweight division to challenge 155-pound champion Islam Makhachev.

The bout is Makhachev’s first lightweight title defense after winning the vacant belt against former champion Charles Oliveira. Volkanovski has never lost in the UFC’s Octagon, going undefeated for nearly a decade into his professional career.

With Volkanovski busy, the interim featherweight champion will be crowned in the evening’s co-main event. Yair Rodriguez and Josh Emmett will fight for the belt and a future shot against Volkanovski for the undisputed title.

With so much going on Saturday night, let’s take a look at the full fight card with the latest odds from Caesars Sportsbook before we get to our team predictions and picks for the PPV portion of the festivities.

UFC 284 fight card, odds

Odds via Caesars Sportsbook

  • Islam Makhachev (c) -410 vs. Alexander Volkanovski +320, lightweight championship
  • Yair Rodriguez -165 vs. Josh Emmett +140, Interim Featherweight Championship
  • Jack Della Madalena -310 vs. Randy Brown +250, welterweight
  • Justin Tafa -125 vs. Parker Porter +105, heavyweights
  • Jimmy Crute -220 vs. Alonzo Menfield +180, light heavyweight
  • Tyson Pedro -240 vs. Zhang Mingyang +200, light heavyweight
  • Josh Culibao -115 vs. Melsik Baghdasaryan -105, feathers
  • Kleydson Rodrigues -310 vs. Shannon Ross +250, flyweight
  • Jamie Mullarkey -260 vs. Francisco Prado +210, light
  • Jack Jenkins -360 vs. Don Shainis +280, feathers
  • Loma Lookboonmee -280 vs. Elise Reed +230, women’s strawweight
  • Shane Young -135 vs. Blake Bilder +115, Featherweight
  • Zubaira Tukhugov -550 vs. Brenner Elves +400, light

With such a huge main event at hand, the CBS Sports team made predictions and main card picks. Here are your picks: Brent Brookhouse (combat sports writer), Brian Campbell (combat sports writer, co-host of “Morning Kombat”), Shakiel Mahjouri (writer), Michael Mormile (producer) and Brandon Wise (editor senior).

UFC 284 picks and predictions

Makhachev (c) against Volkanovski Makhachev volkanovski Makhachev Makhachev Makhachev
Rodriguez versus Emmett Rodriguez Rodriguez Rodriguez Rodriguez Rodriguez
Madeleine against Brown Madalena Madalena Madalena Madalena Madalena
Tafa x Porter Tafa Tafa Tafa Tafa Tafa
Crute x Menifield crude Menifield crude crude crude
Records to date (2023)
4-1 4-1 3-2 3-2 3-2

Makhachev vs Volkanovski

Campbell: Will size be the difference for Makhachev to defend his lightweight title, or is his combination of skills and improved striking alone enough to overcome Volkanovski’s magic? The reality facing the current featherweight king is that we may never find out the answers to either scenario because Makhachev’s wrestling offense really is that dominant. The disciple of former champion Khabib Nurmagomedov, who won’t be in Makhachev’s corner at UFC 284, is dominant both from a technical point of view and in the patient and relentless pursuit of the finish that hangs over every fight. Volkanovski is closing in on the critical validation of being considered one of the all-time greats still in his prime, but this matchup is just a bridge too far because Makhachev, the bigger man, is also special.

Brookhouse: In a way, this choice is a kind of reaction to the disrespect shown to Volkanovski by the punters. Volkanovski has most of the tools you’d want in a fighter built to defeat Makhachev. His striking is crisp with a mix of feints, kicks and moves that take time to figure out, only for him to change his pace and angles and force it into a reset of sorts. Volkanovski also has good counter-fighting, submission defense and the ability to create moves when placed in bad positions on the ground. Size is obviously an issue and Makhachev may be able to just push forward and force Volkanovski, but there’s a good chance Volkanovski will work as a matador in the early rounds as he tries to slowly wear down his bigger opponent before taking over the fight in the second half.

Rodriguez versus Emmett

Campbell: Rodriguez was always that rocket ship of future potential that never fully proved he could live up to the early hype around how exciting and unpredictable of an action star he could be. Against Chan Sung-Jung in 2019, Rodriguez was competitive but seemingly on his way to defeat, until he landed the last Ave Maria with a second left in a five-round fight. But he finally seemed to pull it all together in a fight – against former champion Max Holloway in 2021 – that was technically a close decision loss, but turned out to be nothing more than a critical victory for the way he carried himself and the sustained support. danger he inflicted. That was his coming of age moment at the elite level and that moment led to an interim title fight. Rodriguez needs to avoid getting pocketed due to Emmett’s raw power. But Emmett’s greatest strength and durability may also be his greatest weakness, especially when the scarred receipts from previous wars have been piling up at the worst of times. Rodriguez is the wrong fighter to go straight with, which means that if Emmett can’t control the pace and terms of the fight and is forced to chase him down, what he’ll find is his death via a well-timed execution of a counterattacker with fight-changing power.

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