The UFC’s return to Australia after three years away did not disappoint — and the UFC 284 main event certainly lived up to expectations.
A champ versus champ showdown that saw featherweight kingpin Alexander Volkanovski head north in search of a second title against Islam Makhachev, the Perth card’s headliner was a far more competitive affair than many had anticipated. While the Dagestani lightweight had success early, especially with his takedowns, he could not hold the Australian down — and as the fight progressed, Volkanovski’s gas tank became a difference maker.
While both men rocked the other early, in the fifth and final round, it was the featherweight champ dropping Makhachev, finishing the fight on top, raining down punches to the body and head. It wasn’t enough to get the nod on the scorecards, however, especially after Makhachev had finally managed to drag Volkanovski down in the fourth — only for the fired up Australian to deliver punch after punch back towards his foe.
Two scorecards had it 48-47 for Makhachev, the third 49-46. But those who had dismissed Volkanovski’s chances were proven wrong nonetheless: he had given the lightweight champion the toughest test of his career when all was said and done. Another round, and it felt like there might have been a very different outcome.
The bout picked up Fight of the Night honors, and while Volkanovski will face Yair Rodriguez moving forward, it would not be a surprise to see him run it back with Makhachev some day.
Speaking of Rodriguez, the Mexican featherweight put on a strong, well-rounded performance in the night’s co-main event, submitting Josh Emmett with a triangle to claim interim featherweight gold. That earned the Mexican standout one of two Performance of the Night bonuses at UFC 284. The other, deservedly, went to Jack Della Maddalena, who scored his fourth first-round finish in four fights with a submission of Randy Brown. That makes it three straight performance bonuses for JDM.