UFC 284: Makhachev vs. Volkanovski Predictions, Analysis, and Free Picks
Official Selections: 63% (+2.55 Units) | YTD Premium Picks: 64% (+13.25 units)
Location: RAC Arena (AUS), Perth, Australia
Early Prelims: 6:00 PM EST - ESPN+
Prelims: 8:00 PM EST - ESPN/ESPN+
Main Card: 10:00 PM EST - ESPN+ PPV
We went 2-2 last week, primarily losing units behind a guy in Kinoshita that wasn’t ready for the opportunity given. The Da Un decision could have gone either way, but he lacked the aggression early to get the job done.
Nakamura and Spivak, our two wins, were first-rounders that were never close.
Premium subscribers receiving picks for every single fight, we went 6-5 on the night, moving to 23-13 (64%, +13.25 units) on the year following two of three winning weeks.
Our attention now turns to the second PPV card of the year, and it’s a doozy at the top. In the co-main, Yair Rodriguez takes on Josh Emmett for the interim featherweight title in what should be a great fight, that I’m staying away from. The main event nearly needs no introduction, as the #1 pound-for-pound (PFP) fighter on the planet (Alexander Volkanovski) moves up in weight classes to take on the lightweight champion and #2 PFP Islam Makhachev.
I have a read on that fight, and a few others, as we dive into a top-heavy UFC 284.
Shane Young vs. Blake Builder
We’ve already seen this season of DWCS fighters make a splash in the UFC (The Bonfims, Rosas Jr., Marcos, Rebecki, Pyfer), and I think we see another here with Bilder. As with all fighters on their UFC debut, the official stats don’t mean much, as Bilder’s are compiled from a round one (submission) win over Alex Morgan in August in DWCS.
The win marked his fourth straight inside the distance, as Bilder is one of the more well-rounded fighters in the featherweight division we have come out of DWCS.
As for Young, who made his debut in the UFC in 2017 vs. Volkanovski, “Smokin’” has amassed a record of just 2-3 with the promotion, with both wins coming against guys with a combined record of 25-14 at the time. With his UFC career likely on the line here, he’s very much in danger of dropping his third straight fight as he’s been dealt a fighter in Bilder who possesses his kryptonite; ground game.
Primarily a striker, Young has proven below average on the ground, and with a takedown defense of just 56%, Bilder should have his way with a smart game plan.
And then there’s the issue of inactivity. Having not fought since March of 2021, Young comes into the octagon with plenty of ring rust, while facing an opponent in Bilder who has fought four times since then.
Bilder is a potential star in the making for the UFC, and I think we see him hand Young his walking papers in this one.
Pick: Blake Bilder (+115 at BetUS) to risk 1 unit
Loma Lookboonmee vs. Elise Reed
Look(boonmee), to be honest, it somewhat concerns me how much I love this one.
Getting back to our foundation, the metrics here jump off the page for me when it comes to Loma, as she holds significant edges in striking (2x) and takedown average (2x). With both fighters having 4+ fights in the UFC over roughly the same time period and opponent class, I put more stock into the numbers than otherwise.
While her size (5’1”) has always concerned me, she draws an opponent in Reed who stands just 2” taller, largely canceling out any advantage there. Easily the best Muay Thai fighter at strawweight, Loma should largely be able to pick her spots in this matchup.
When it comes to the ground, Loma also holds the edges not just in takedowns, but more importantly for scoring, but takedown defense by nearly +25%.
With more ways to rack up points in a fight that almost certainly goes to decision, I’m taking Lookboonmee in my biggest play of this undercard.
Pick: Loma Lookboonmee (-250 at DraftKings Sportsbook) to risk 5 units
Tyson Pedro vs. Modestas Bukauskas
Opening as high as -1000, likely a mistake, we saw some insane line movement in this one as Pedro has settled in closer to -250 where I think he belongs. Winning both of his 2022 fights via first-round KO/TKOs, Pedro drew two of the bottom light heavyweights in the UFC in Harry Hunsucker and Ike Villanueva.
Even still, the wins continued his streak of all nine professional wins coming in the first round, with only one of his professional fights making the distance.
As for Bukauskas, he isn’t actually making his UFC debut, going 1-3 with the promotion from 2020-2021 before returning to Cage Warriors for two wins in 2022. Much like Pedro, Bukauskas has a propensity for early exits, with three of his four UFC fights ending within two rounds.
It also doesn’t help Bukauskas’ cause that he’s taking this fight on less than three weeks’ notice, flying halfway across the globe to take on a local in Pedro.
While either of these fighters is capable of getting it done, I don’t think either waste time in getting there.
Pick: Under 2.5 Rounds (-150 at BetUS) to risk 3 units
All Fights - Picks w/ Confidence Levels & Modeled Odds
YTD Record: 23-13 (64%, +13.25 units)*
*All bets are one unit
All Fights - Dashboards (not found above)
*All odds as of the day of posting.