A massive showdown of elite pound-for-pound fighters is set for Saturday night’s UFC 284 main event when featherweight champion Alexander Volanovski moves up to challenge lightweight champion Islam Makhachev for the 155-pound title. While Volkanovski will enter the fight as a sizable underdog, he will have the hometown advantage as the event take place in his native Australia.
The fight will be Makhachev’s first defense of the lightweight title after a dominant win over former champion Charles Oliveira at UFC 280. Volkanovski brings a 22-fight win streak to the Octagon as he looks to build on his already incredible resume by becoming just the fifth person in UFC history to simultaneously hold championships in two divisions.
As always, we are looking ahead to the event to determine our choices for the best bets on the pay-per-view main card. 2023 got off to a hot start as we went 4-1 on our picks for UFC 283.
Let’s take a look at our picks for the best bets on the UFC 284 main card with odds from Caesars Sportsbook.
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Jimmy Crute vs. Alonzo Menifield
Pick: Under 1.5 rounds (-140)
Only one of Crute’s seven UFC fights — eight if you count his Dana White’s Contender Series win — have gone past the first round. Similarly, six of 10 Octagon trips for Menifield have ended in the first round. Not only are both men good finishers, they are not invulnerable to being stopped themselves. This fight has every element needed to feel comfortable taking the under 1.5 rounds line, especially if it remains below -150. Crute has also lost two straight fights by stoppage. One of those was by doctor stoppage but the most recent was a 48-second knockout loss to Jamahal Hill. Menifield can absolutely crack and is a tempting underdog pick at +160, but the safer play is to simply take the under.
Justin Tafa vs. Parker Porter
Pick: Justin Tafa via KO/TKO/DQ (+160)
Picking mid-tier UFC heavyweight fights is never fun. Beyond that heavyweights generally all possess enough power to knock out their opponent at any time, gas tanks are unreliable. Porter is 37 and vulnerable to being stopped with three knockouts and three submission losses on his resume. Tafa’s 5-3 record doesn’t inspire much confidence, but he’s a good finisher, and being a New Zealander, isn’t also dealing with the effects of travel the same way Porter will be. Tafa should be able to find Porter’s chin enough to get the finish and if we’re picking him to win, we might as well take the +160 knockout line over the -125 moneyline.
Jack Della Maddalena vs. Randy Brown
Pick: Jack Della Maddalena via KO/TKO/DQ (-115)
Della Maddalena is a considerable favorite for obvious reasons. He has very sharp boxing skills and an undefeated record. He matches up well with Brown, whose biggest assets are his height and reach. At 6-foot-3 and with a 78-inch reach, Brown has unique physical tools for a welterweight. Still, Della Maddalena’s striking is so sharp and Brown isn’t great at imposing his will. Brown has been stopped by strikes twice in his career and Della Maddalena has 11 knockouts in his 13 career wins. Play the numbers on this one.
Yair Rodríguez vs. Josh Emmett
Pick: Fight not to go the distance (+110)
It feels a bit iffy to pick a fight between two men who have only been stopped once each — not counting a Rodriguez loss by doctor’s stoppage — to not go the distance. But stylistically, this is a fight where both guys face a lot of risk. Both men hit hard and can have defensive lapses that result in eating clean shots to the face. With this being an interim featherweight championship fight, there are five rounds for both men to survive. That’s certainly a possibility, as reflected in the odds, but this is such a risky fight with two men who don’t shy away from engagement that getting the fight to not go the distance at plus-money is a worthwhile play.
Islam Makhachev vs. Alexander Volkanovski
Pick: Over 2.5 rounds (-170)
This fight is tough to call, much tougher than Makhachev’s -410 moneyline suggests. That alone makes a Volkanovski moneyline bet at +320 a worthwhile play in terms of pure value. But a Volkanovski play also represents an accepted risk. A safer pick is to take the fight to go over 2.5 rounds. Yes, Makhachev is a big, strong mauler while Volkanovski is moving up a division in pursuit of greatness. But Volkanovski is an extremely intelligent fighter with solid wrestling and the ability to lock into a tactical gameplan on the feet. There is going to be a lot of feeling out early and Volkanovski’s feints will force Makhachev to be slow on engaging immediately. Nothing should be expected to come easy to either fighter and an early finish doesn’t feel likely for either man.
Who wins UFC 284: Volkanovski vs. Makhachev? And how exactly does each fight end? Visit SportsLine now to get detailed picks on every fight at UFC 284, all from the incomparable expert who’s up nearly $12,000 on MMA in the past four years, and find out.