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Makhachev v Volkanovski fight preview & best bets – UFC 284

Islam Makhachev v Alex Volkanovski UFC betting tips

Islam Makhachev v Alexander Volkanovski

Latest Odds & Fight Info

Main Event odds Makhachev -400 at Bovada | Volkanovski +300 at Bovada
When Sunday, February 12 – main card from 11am AWST / 3am GMT / Sat 10pm EST
Where RAC Arena, Perth
Watch Live ESPN+ PPV (US), BT Sport (UK), Main Event (AU)

All eyes will be on RAC Arena in Perth this weekend for UFC 284, featuring a blockbuster matchup between Islam Makhachev and Alexander Volkanovski — two of the greatest pound-for-pound MMA fighters on the planet. The middleweight title will be on the line when the Russian warrior attempts to thwart a bold challenge by Australia’s favourite combat sportsman, who is chasing double-champion status.

Islam Makhachev (23-1-0) is part of a wave of Russian fighting talent that has taken the MMA world by storm in recent years. He captured the middleweight crown with a second-round demolition of Charles Oliveira in October 2021 and now looks to defend that title on hostile territory. Oliveira looked head and shoulders above the rest of this stacked division until Makhachev entered the scene. The Russian is an absolute beast on the ground, much like his forerunner and mentor Khabib Nurmagomedov. His top game is heavy, sophisticated, and almost impossible to escape.

In addition to his ground dominance, Makhachev has a high-quality standup game. He is an effective striker who controls the distance and has the power to knock out any opponent. He is driven by a fierce will to win and is part of a warrior class that those outside of Russia struggle to comprehend. Such men live to fight. It is seen as not a hobby, or even a sport; fighting is a man’s role in life.

Given Makhachev’s excellent all-round skills, we can only imagine what type of gameplan his opponent’s camp has constructed. The Russian will walk forward with a high guard, land a heavy strike, grab a hold of the Aussie and take him to the mat, where his true advantage lies. This is the plan he executed to perfection against Oliveira, who is a BJJ wizard with 21 UFC submission victories to his name.

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Alexander Volkanovski (25-1-0) enters this bout as the undisputed UFC pound-for-pound king. His record since entering the promotion stands at a perfect 12-0, and at 34 years of age, he is still improving. His only professional loss occurred way back in 2013 to unknown Australian Corey Nelson on what must have been an off night for the future champion.

Volkanovski has vanquished all comers in the featherweight division, including former champs and outstanding contenders in Jose Aldo, Brian Ortega, and Max Hollaway, who he beat twice. His skills are subtle and can be missed by the untrained eye. Volkanovski’s footwork and timing are so sublime that highly skilled opponents can be rendered impotent when standing opposite.

This was evident in his 2019 win over Aldo, during which the Brazilian struggled to land a single clean punch. For 15 minutes Aldo constantly found himself out of position, off balance, and unable to launch any meaningful offense. This was the subtle Volkanovski genius at work. It was a strange spectacle that did not quite make sense. Aldo is one of the best featherweights to ever enter the octagon, but against Volkanovski he looked confused and outclassed.

For all his skills, this appears to be a disastrous matchup for the ambitious Aussie. We respect that he has cleaned out the featherweight brigade and now seeks greatness as a two-division champion, but if a computer were to simulate his worst possible opponent, Makhachev would be the result. Against another middleweight Volkanovski might have some hope, but we cannot envision a scenario in which he prevails here.

READ: UFC 284 Main Card betting preview & top UFC tips

At 5’6’’ the Australian is short for any weight division and gives away four inches to Makhachev. His ground game is limited to minimising the damage from better grapplers and wrestlers, and this is certain to be exposed. Any striking advantage is minimal at best given the Russian’s well-rounded skillset. While any sporting contest can go in a range of potential directions, this fight appears to have one likely trajectory: Volkanovski will be taken down and finished by the bigger, stronger, and vastly superior wrestler. This may happen within minutes of the opening bell.

Volkanovski’s only hope is to keep the contest standing for 100% of the fight and wear Makhachev down with overwhelming strikes. He might be reluctant to throw kicks given the increased threat of being taken down when off balance, so a boxing-heavy approach seems the only option. If Volkanovski does manage to avoid the takedowns and shock the world with an upset win, his place among the greatest UFC fighters of all time is assured. We can only admire his bravery and confidence in chasing this matchup. That said, this looks like a certain win for Makhachev, and we will be betting accordingly.

Islam Makhachev inside three rounds


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