For the second time in as many months, the UFC delivers an international pay-per-view to its audience, taking the action back to Australia for the first time since UFC 243 for a fight card headlined by a colossal “Champion vs. Champion” clash in the lightweight division.
Packed with Oceanic talents and intriguing matchups, UFC 284 is sure to be an action-packed affair that adds to the impressive start of the 2023 campaign inside the Octagon.
Here’s a closer look at what’s on tap this weekend at RAC Arena in Perth.
- Main Event: Islam Makhachev vs Alexander Volkanovski
- Location: RAC Arena - Perth, Australia
- How To Watch: ESPN+ or UFC Fight Pass when you purchase the UFC 284 Pay-Per-View
- Co-Main Event: Yair Rodriguez vs Josh Emmett
- Other Main Card Fights:
- Jack Della Maddalena vs Randy Brown
- Justin Tafa vs Parker Porter
- Jimmy Crute vs Alonzo Menifield
- Prelim Fights:
- Tyson Pedro vs Modestas Bukauskas
- Josh Culibao vs Melsik Baghdasaryan
- Shannon Ross vs Kleydson Rodrigues
- Jamie Mullarkey vs Francisco Prado
- Early Prelim Fights:
- Jack Jenkins vs Don Shainis
- Loma Lookboonmee vs Elise Reed
- Shane Young vs Blake Bilder
- Zubaira Tukhugov vs Elves Brenner
Main Event: Islam Makhachev vs Alexander Volkanovski
Moments after Islam Makhachev was presented with the lightweight title he earned at UFC 280, featherweight champ Alexander Volkanovski congratulated him and stated his desire to challenge for the newly-earned strap.
Order UFC 284: Makhachev vs Volkanovski
This weekend, the titleholders will stand across from one another to determine who is the best pound-for-pound fighter in the sport.
Makhachev has won 11 straight, earning four straight stoppage wins on his way to facing Charles Oliveira for the belt last October, and submitting “Do Bronx” in the second round to claim the title. Heralded as “the next one” when his longtime teammate and friend Khabib Nurmagomedov retired, the 31-year-old standout has lived up to those forecasts and then some and can add to his legacy by taking out Volkanovski on Saturday.
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Not to be outdone, Volkanovski is a perfect 12-0 in the UFC and riding an incredible 22-fight winning streak overall, having picked up his fourth successful featherweight title defense in July with a one-sided decision win over former champ Max Holloway. The 34-year-old Australian has continued to evolve and improve with each passing appearance, developing into one of the most complete fighters in the sport and a master tactician inside the Octagon.
This is a fascinating fight and arguably the best matchup the UFC could put together at this moment. Both men are highly skilled, dynamic, and dangerous, and it’s going to be captivating to see how this one plays out.
Co-Main Event: Yair Rodriguez vs Josh Emmett
With Volkanovski relocating to lightweight — at least for the moment — the UFC has chosen Yair Rodriguez and Josh Emmett to face off for the interim featherweight title in Saturday’s co-main event, hoping to maintain continuity atop the division regardless of what transpires in the main event.
Rodriguez has long been expected to rise to the championship tier, but has taken a circuitous route, struggling to put together the consistent appearances and results needed to make a dominant run to the top of the division. There is no denying that the Mexican featherweight is a tremendous talent — explosive, athletic, and inventive, Rodriguez has the skills to be a superstar and titleholder; it’s just a matter of whether he can bring that all together at the right time, when the stakes are highest.
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Inconsistency has never been an issue for Emmett, who arrives in Australia own a five-fight winning streak, brandishing an 18-2 record overall. Injuries have forced him to the sidelines for stretches, but every time, he’s come back and collected another win, further cementing his standing as one of the top contenders in the 145-pound weight class.
This is a classic clash of approaches, with Rodriguez offering a lot of kicks, a lot of movement, and heaps of creativity, while Emmett has a wrestling background and prefers to sling hammers, looking to put your lights out with one shot. It’s going to be tense from the opening seconds and remain that way for as long as it lasts.
Other UFC 284 Main Card Fights
Jack Della Maddalena vs Randy Brown
Hometown boy Jack Della Maddalena faces off with Randy Brown in a compelling matchup between welterweights seeking to break into the Top 15.
A member of the Dana White’s Contender Series (DWCS) Class of ’21, Della Maddalena posted three first-round finishes in his 2022 rookie campaign, stopping Pete Rodriguez in January, Ramazan Emeev in June, and Danny Roberts in November. The 26-year-old from Perth lost the first two fights of his career, but has won each of his last 13 fights, establishing himself as one of the most intriguing newcomers on the roster.
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While the Australian is only a year into his UFC run, Brown is now in year eight, owning a 10-4 record inside the Octagon and carrying a four-fight winning streak with him into Saturday night. He’s developed into a long-range fighter that utilizes his speed and diverse striking acumen, frustrating opponents with kicks to the midsection, sharp jabs, and overall sound technical skills.
Both guys are looking to take another step forward in their progression up the welterweight ladder, and a big performance from either should aid them in those pursuits. A place in the rankings may not follow this one, but a matchup against someone with a number next to their name just may.
Justin Tafa vs Parker Porter
Justin Tafa and Parker Porter meet in a main card heavyweight battle between fighters looking to make meaningful headway in 2023.
Tafa last fought on the final card of 2021, missing weight before knocking out Harry Hunsucker to snap a two-fight skid. He withdrew from a pair of contests last year, comes from a fighting family, and has devastating power, but has struggled to achieve consistent results through his first five Octagon appearances.
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Porter carried a three-fight winning streak into his second appearance of 2022 but ran into Brazilian freight train Jailton Almeida. The Connecticut native is a burly, durable heavyweight with more than twice as much experience as Tafa, and it will be interesting to see how that factors into things on Saturday.
Jimmy Crute vs Alonzo Menifield
The main card also features a light heavyweight matchup between DWCS alums Jimmy Crute and Alonzo Menifield that is guaranteed to be exciting.
The 26-year-old Crute went 4-1 over his first five UFC appearances after earning a contract in the summer of 2018, earning stoppages in all four outings and bonuses in his last two triumphs. Since then, Crute has gone 0-2, suffering stoppage losses to former title challenger Anthony Smith and new champ Jamahal Hill, and missed all of 2022 recovering from a major knee injury.
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Menifield has gone 6-3 in nine starts since earning a contract on the first episode of Season 2 of the annual talent search competition. The explosive powerhouse has gone 4-1 over his last five fights, earning a pair of first-round stoppage wins in 2022 to once again emerge as an intriguing finisher in the light heavyweight ranks.
Neither of these two men is particularly fond of letting the judges have a say in their fights, with just six decisions between them over a combined 31 fights. This should be an all-action affair from the outset and is going to come down to who is able to dictate the terms of engagement on Saturday night.
Tyson Pedro vs Modestas Bukauskas
The main card opens in the 205-pound ranks and the prelims wrap there, as well, with Tyson Pedro taking on the returning Modestas Bukauskas.
Pedro ended a more than three-year absence in 2022, returning to claim first-round stoppage wins over Ike Villanueva and Harry Hunsucker to re-establish himself as a person of interest in the light heavyweight ranks. The 31-year-old Australian flashed upside over his first six UFC appearances prior to being sidelined, and will look to continue moving forward by extending his winning streak to three this weekend.
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Winning the Cage Warriors light heavyweight title has resulted in Bukauskas getting a call to the Octagon on two occasions. After winning his debut, three consecutive losses resulted in “The Baltic Gladiator” returning to the elite UK promotion, where he earned two wins in eight weeks, capped by a second championship victory on the final day of 2022.
There is always room for relatively young talents to climb the ranks in the light heavyweight division, especially now that it’s in the midst of sea change, so it’ll be curious to see if either (or both) of these athletes can make a case for greater opportunities in this one.
Josh Culibao vs Melsik Baghdasaryan
Josh Culibao and Melsik Baghdasaryan face off in a meeting of streaking featherweights aiming to garner greater recognition and a more high-profile assignment next time out.
After losing his promotional debut to Jalin Turner up a division in early 2020, Culibao has gone 2-0-1, battling Charles Jourdain to a draw before garnering decision wins over Shayilan Nuerdanbieke and SeungWoo Choi. The 28-year-old from Sydney is 10-1-1 overall and can transform himself into a fighter to watch going forward with a win over Baghdasaryan at UFC 284.
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“The Gun” has been limited to just two appearances since garnering a contract with a win over Dennis Buzukja in the fall of 2020. He’s collected victories each time out, stopping Collin Anglin before earning a unanimous decision triumph over Bruno Souza at UFC 268, but he was forced out of a pair of bouts last year and will need to shake off any accumulated rust in order to get by Culibao on Saturday.
Will the Australian continue to string together strong performances and climbing the ladder or will Baghdasaryan halt his ascent and collect a third straight victory of his own?
Shannon Ross vs. Kleydson Rodrigues
Shannon Ross and Kleydson Rodrigues meet in a battle of Contender Series alums hoping to start 2023 with a victory.
Ross suffered a second-round stoppage loss to Vinicius Salvador last year at the UFC APEX but was awarded a contract after the event when it was discovered he fought while battling appendicitis. The 33-year-old from Queensland is 13-6 overall, but had won five of his previous six prior to last year’s trip to Las Vegas, which makes him an interesting addition to the 125-pound ranks and Saturday’s fight card.
A member of the Class of ’21, Rodrigues landed on the wrong side of a split decision verdict in his promotional debut at UFC 274, losing to fellow DWCS grad CJ Vergara. He was scheduled to face Salvador at the end of October before the lanky Brazilian withdrew, only for Rodrigues to then be forced out of a short-notice pairing with Cody Durden for undisclosed reasons.
The flyweight division continues to add depth and talent, and these two are part of those recent additions. How far they can climb is yet to be determined, with Saturday’s contest serving as a chance to take a first step forward.
Jamie Mullarkey vs. Francisco Prado
Veteran Jamie Mullarkey joins Justin Tafa as one of two men to compete the last time the UFC touched down in Australia, returning home to face off with Argentinian newcomer Francisco Prado.
The 28-year-old from New South Wales stumbled out of the gates at the start of his UFC career, but has responded by earning three wins in his last four appearances. Last time out, Mullarkey landed on the fortunate side of a split decision verdict in a competitive, entertaining fight with Michael Johnson.
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Prado carries a perfect 11-0 record into his promotional debut. The 20-year-old has thrived under the Samurai Fight House banner, capturing and defending the promotion’s lightweight title, needing just 77 seconds to dispatch Jose Barrios Vargas last time out.
Can Mullarkey find success in his native Australia or will Prado show he’s ready to compete on the biggest stage in the sport?
Early Prelim Fights
Jack Jenkins vs. Don Shainis
Contender Series grad Jack Jenkins makes his first official trip into the Octagon this weekend, facing off with Don Shainis.
The Eternal MMA featherweight champion collected a third-round stoppage win over Freddy Linares in September to earn a place on the UFC roster, extending his winning streak to seven in the process. While there will be comparisons to Della Maddalena, Jenkins is a couple years older than his countryman, though that’s not to say he can’t develop into a notable name over the next few years.
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Shainis got called up last October and thrown into the deep end, dropped into a matchup with Sodiq Yusuff that ended in 30 seconds. This weekend, he gets the opportunity to compete with a full camp behind him and against an opponent of similar experience and standing in the promotion at the moment, so this fight should provide a greater representation of where he fits in the 145-pound ranks at the moment.
Will Jenkins garner a victory at home in his maiden voyage into the UFC cage or can Shainis hand the Australian his first loss in nearly five years while grabbing a win for himself?
Loma Lookboonmee vs. Elise Reed
Loma Lookboonmee and Elise Reed clash in this bout between strawweights that have struggled to find consistency thus far in their respective UFC careers.
The first fighter from Thailand to compete in the Octagon, Lookboonmee has gone 4-2 in six appearances, losing to more experienced foes Angela Hill and Loopy Godinez. She rebounded from her loss to Godinez with a unanimous decision win over Denise Gomes in September, and continues to display clear improvements and development each time out.
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Reed has alternated losses and wins over her first four trips into the UFC cage, going 2-1 in a trio of strawweight bouts after a debut loss at flyweight. Last time out, the former CFFC champ defeated Melissa Martinez, pushing her record to 6-2, which includes wins over fellow UFC competitor Jasmine Jasudavicius and current Invicta FC champ Jillian DeCoursey.
Saturday's contest should be a good indicator of where each of these two are at in their development, as well as what to expect from them over the next year. There have been positive flashes amidst the inconsistent results, and if those moments become more frequent, either or both could make meaningful headway up the ranks.
Shane Young vs. Blake Bilder
New Zealand’s Shane Young looks to get things moving in the right direction, while Blake Bilder aims to make a positive first impression in his promotional debut in this compelling featherweight clash.
Young dropped his UFC debut to Volkanovski all the way back in 2017 before claiming a pair of wins over Rolando Dy and Austin Arnett. Since then, he’s suffered back-to-back losses to Ludovit Klein and Omar Morales, and returns this weekend for the first time in nearly two full years.
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Unbeaten in eight career starts, Bilder collected an impressive first-round stoppage win over Canadian Alex Morgan on the Contender Series last fall to land on the UFC roster. While he faced limited competition early in his career, the 32-year-old newcomer has posted good wins over veteran competitors over his last three outings, and is an intriguing addition to the featherweight class.
Young is an aggressive, attacking fighter when at his best, brandishing good power and a clear edge in experience. It will be interesting to see if he can use those things to his advantage on Saturday as he welcomes Bilder to the Octagon for the first time, or if the debutant will take to competing on the big stage like a duck takes to water.
Zubaira Tukhugov vs. Elves Brener
In the opening bout of the evening, veteran Zubaira Tukhugov faces off with Brazilian newcomer Elves Brener.
The 32-year-old Tukhugov has been an enigma for the entirety of his UFC career, showing flashes of brilliance, but also struggling to compete with regularity at times. He looked outstanding garnering a unanimous decision win over Ricardo Ramos last time out, but that fight took place at UFC 267, with Tukhugov being forced out of a pair of bouts in 2022, which plays right into his frustrating pattern.
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Brener steps in for Joel Alvarez, who was forced to withdraw from the bout. The 25-year-old is another member of the Chute Boxe Diego Lima team that includes Charles Oliveira, and he touches down in Australia with a 13-3 record and riding a tidy two-fight winning streak. This is a gnarly assignment for a young newcomer, but also a chance for Brener to make a lasting first impression, even in a losing effort.
The first of only three pairings on the card that doesn’t include a fighter from the Oceanic region, this one should set the tone for an entertaining and exciting night of action inside the Octagon at UFC 284.
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UFC 284: Makhachev vs Volkanovski took place live from RAC Arena in Perth, Western Australia on February 11, 2023. See the Final Results, Official Scorecards and Who Won Bonuses - and relive all the action on UFC Fight Pass!