The UFC returns to Australia on Saturday for the first time since 2019 and does so with a top-heavy lineup. Thankfully, the top two fights are good enough to validate the entire affair. In the UFC 284 main event, featherweight champion and pound-for-pound great Alexander Volkanovski moves up to 155 pounds for what will be his toughest challenge yet, as he takes on freshly crowned lightweight titleholder—and fellow top pound-for-pound fighter—Islam Makhachev in one of the most interesting matchups possible at the moment.

In the co-headliner, Volkanovski’s usual stomping grounds at 145 pounds look to crown an interim champion with a showdown between Yair Rodriguez and Josh Emmett that seems guaranteed to bring violence. Beyond that, hometown boy Jack Della Maddalena gets a big test against Randy Brown at welterweight, and there are some bouts that got called into main card duty after some late scratches. Justin Tafa takes on Parker Porter and Jimmy Crute faces Alonzo Menifield, and while they may not carry the highest stakes, they should at least provide some fun.

Featherweight: Yair Rodriguez (14-3) vs. Josh Emmett (18-2)

In the co-main event of UFC 284, Yair Rodriguez takes on Josh Emmett for the interim featherweight title, and we like Rodriguez in this matchup. This is a great stylistic matchup for Rodriguez, as Emmett likes to strike as well, but the difference is that Emmett actually has a negative striking differential… Yair Rodriguez lands 4.67 significant strikes per minute while absorbing 4.12, while Josh Emmett lands 4.28 while absorbing 4.29. On the feet, Rodriguez is the better technical striker and will land more shots, while Emmett will look for the power punch, but Rodriguez has proven to have a good chin. The way Emmett has a chance to win is by using his wrestling, but it’s not a facet of his game he’s employed of late. Since 2017 – which is a sample size of nine fights — he has a total of two takedowns. We like Rodriguez to land the better shots and edge out a decision here, so we’ll take him on the moneyline at MyBookie.

Prediction:  Yair Rodriguez (-165)

ufc 284 - yair rodriguez

Light Heavyweight: Tyson Pedro (9-3) vs. Modestas Bukauskas (13-5)

The final prelim fight is a light heavyweight banger, as the hometown Aussie Tyson Pedro faces off against Modestas Bukauskas, who is returning to the UFC on short notice. Pedro has proven to have a ton of power, and to get plus-money on him to win by KO/TKO is the way to go here. Bukauskas’s chin is a concern, as we saw Jimmy Crute connect early and often on it when it was up in the air. If Pedro connects, it likely will be over, and he also throws good leg kicks and body kicks, which also could result in a stoppage victory. On short notice, we don’t see Bukauskas being able to survive all 15 minutes against such a dangerous fighter, so we’ll take a shot at Tyson Pedro to win by KO/TKO (+185) at BetOnline.

Prediction: Tyson Pedro via KO/TKO (+185)

UFC 284 - Tyson Pedro

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