UFC 284 Results, Highlights: Islam Makhachev Completes His Skillset, Alexander Volkanovski Rises in Defeat

Perth, Australia, achieved just about anything imaginable on Saturday night at UFC 284. The crazy Australian crowd brought tremendous energy throughout the night, including cheering on fellow countryman and featherweight champion Alexander Volkanovski in his main showdown with the champion of lightweight Islam Makhachev.

Volkanovski fought tremendously in an attempt to become a two-division champion, but he ended up losing, losing a unanimous decision in a fight that showcased the skill, stamina and heart of both champions.

The co-main event was a brilliant showcase for Yair Rodriguez, with the Mexican superstar landing Josh Emmett in the feet before finishing the fight with a triangle choke in the second round. With the victory, Rodriguez won the interim featherweight belt and now awaits the confrontation with Volkanovski still in 2023 to unify the belts.

With those two big title fights in the books, let’s take a look at the big lessons learned at UFC 284.

Makhachev displayed a full set of frightening skills

Makhachev did not enter the fight with Volkanovski as a heavy favorite because he was expected to beat the featherweight champion. Indeed, the idea that most of the fight would play out as a stand-up match would suggest that things had gone in a terrible direction for the native of Dagestan, Russia.

As the fight progressed, however, Makhachev proved more than capable of not only hanging with Volkanovski standing, but frequently getting the better of the exchanges. This was not a product of Makhachev’s size, as Volkanovski got the better of fighters taller than Makhachev, namely Max Holloway. Makhachev’s success came from not biting Volkanovski’s feints and keeping his own punches short and snappy, slashing Volkanovski repeatedly and punishing the featherweight champion almost every time he got careless in letting go of his hands.

Combine a clearly evolving striking game with his dominant wrestling and ground game and Makhachev has a toolbox that is brimming with options for how to solve any problem that might present itself. Even Khabib Nurmagomedov has never displayed as complete a striking game as Makhachev did on Saturday night, meaning the rest of the lightweight division could have a tough time ahead.

Volkanovski shares rise despite loss

Volkanovski no to need to fight with Makhachev. Despite fighting up to 155 pounds early in his career, Volkanovski is a featherweight. Like most great fighters, Volkanovski wanted to build his legacy by taking on the biggest challenge he could find. This meant moving up the weight class while being recognized as the #1 pound-for-pound fighter in the sport and facing the new unstoppable force of lightweight.

Many thought that Volkanovski would not be able to handle Makhachev’s strength. He was never truly outdone in muscle.

Many felt that he could not survive when the fight reached the ground. He survived and escaped several times and never got into trouble when Makhachev had advantageous positions.

The odds suggested he had little chance of winning. Still, if a few brief sections of action had played out differently, Volkanovski would have raised his hand.

Volkanovski once again proved himself to be extremely talented and tough as iron as he took on – and almost conquered – the biggest challenge of his career. He can now return to featherweight to take care of business, keeping a trip back to 155 for a rematch in the back of his mind.

Yair Rodriguez’s evolution is complete

For years, Rodriguez has established himself as a fighter with a flashy, fan-friendly striking style. That style left him open to takedowns, which negated his best tools, and he looked lost at times when forced to fight from the back. Still, Rodriguez found success through a combination of speed, angles and foot power early in his career.

Emmett twice managed to finish on top of Rodriguez on the ground and both times Rodriguez not only had a game plan to survive but went on the attack. This led to Rodriguez working from guard to an armbar attempt and a smooth transition to a triangle choke in the second round.

Like Makhachev in reverse, Rodriguez showed that dedication to developing his grappling skills has turned him into a well-rounded fighter. Confident that he can survive, and even thrive, on the ground, Rodriguez only becomes deadlier with his unorthodox attack.

A fight with Volkanovski is one of the most exciting fights that can be had in the Octagon and all fight fans should be looking forward to seeing the two face off later this year.

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