What’s Next: UFC 284 Winners

Islam Makhachev UFC 284
PERTH, AUSTRALIA - FEBRUARY 12: Islam Makhachev of Russia reacts after his victory over Alexander Volkanovski of Australia in the UFC lightweight championship fight during the UFC 284 event at RAC Arena on February 12, 2023 in Perth, Australia. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

This past Saturday the UFC returned Down Under for UFC 284, with home country fighter, Alexander Volkanovski testing himself against one of the very best in the world in lightweight champion, Islam Makhachev.

With Volkanovski moving up to try and claim a second belt, that left his natural division of featherweight needing a temporary throne sitter. Yair Rodriguez took on Josh Emmett for the interim 145lb title, with the winner booking their ticket with the aforementioned champion.

Let’s take a look at what could be next for the stand-out winners of the night.

Islam Makhachev

The Dagestani champion once again exemplified a beautiful well-roundedness for Mixed Martial Arts, putting a stop to any criticism from naysayers.

Coming into this monumentally significant bout there were question marks surrounding both fighters and their ability to deal with the opposing fighter’s strengths. As far as Makhachev is concerned, the questions were whether he could deal with Volkanovski’s striking if the Australian managed to keep the fight standing.

Fortunately for the featherweight champion, he did a great job of doing just that, with Makhachev only securing four of his nine takedown attempts and only controlling for seven minutes on the mat. Despite that, the Russian champion proved extremely slick on the feet. Throughout the opening rounds, he caused Volkanovski several problems on the feet even with a reach disadvantage.

Going under the radar is how difficult it is to fight someone as awkward as Alexander Volkanovski. Especially with him being of small stature but holding a long reach.

With the two elite fighters being so evenly matched, the fight came with its share of controversy due to the judges’ scorecards. For what it’s worth, I think they came to the correct conclusion determining that Makhachev edged the fight narrowly.

Although they won’t fight again immediately, I have no doubt we will see the two lock horns at least once more in the not so distant future. Now though, Makhachev must realign his focus back to the contenders in his division as there are a few knocking on the door. Selfishly, I want to see Rafael Fiziev get the next shot if he beats Justin Gaethje in March, but the next shot should be given to the winner of Charles Oliveira versus Beneil Dariush when that fight finally gets booked.

Makhachev’s Next Fight: Winner of Oliveira vs Dariush

Yair Rodriguez

The aforementioned Alexander Volkanovski now knows who his next opponent in the featherweight division will be.

The ever impressive Rodriguez secured the submission win over Josh Emmett to become the UFC interim featherweight champion. With that, he became the second active Mexican champion, behind Brandon Moreno.

The 30-year-old will stand as the most unique fighter Volkanovski will face so far in his UFC tenure. The style that Rodriguez possesses is enough to cause the current champion problems and it will be an extremely exciting fight.

Not only that, but it will be refreshing seeing Volkanovski face off against a different contender at featherweight, and a dangerous one at that.

Yair Rodriguez’ Next Fight: Alexander Volkanovski

Jack Della Maddalena

The rising Aussie continues to knock it out of the park, this time against the toughest opponent he’s faced so far in his career in Randy Brown. Leading up to this fight, everyone was under the same understanding that this should be a relatively difficult fight for Jack Della Maddalena, as Brown’s awkwardness is enough to cause anyone problems.

Despite that, the 26-year-old cut through Brown like a hot knife through butter. He showcased a side to his game that we had yet seen, once again proving he is the real deal.

I’m not one to want to rush prospects into fights with proven contenders, but in this case, I have no doubt Della Maddalena is ready for the top 15. Although the man I’m about to name is rank #9 and on a slight skid, I believe it would be an extremely competitive fight against Vicente Luque. If Della Maddalena overcame the task then we’d know for sure we have a star on our hands.

Della Maddalena’s Next Fight: Vincente Luque

Justin Tafa

Justin Tafa channelled his inner Mark Hunt whilst at UFC 284, scoring a beautiful walk-off KO over Parker Porter.

That makes it back-to-back first round finishes for the “Bad Man” after finding his confidence and form again. A heavyweight who has had an unfortunate rub recently is Tanner Boser. A match-up between those two could be a fun one.

Justin Tafa’s Next Fight: Tanner Boser 

Jimmy Crute and Alonzo Menifield

With this fight ending in a draw, I will play matchmaker for both of the light heavyweights. The home country fighter, Crute, was coming into this one full of confidence and ready to show a new side to his game. Menifield on the other hand was coming in off the back of consecutive first round finishes, solidifying that this fight was going to be bonkers.

It was exactly that, and by the end of it both fighters were utterly exhausted. During the Octagon interviews with both men, they both outlined their desires to run it back as soon as possible with their being no clear victor in this one.

Having said that, the only reason it ended in a majority draw was because the referee in charge, Marc Goddard, deducted a point from Alonzo Menifield in the final round.

With the two eager to run it back, I say why not?

Crute and Menifield’s next fight: rematch