The biggest fight of the year takes place this weekend when UFC lightweight champion Islam Makhachev defends his title against featherweight champion Alexander Volkanovski in a battle of the top two pound-for-pound fighters in the sport. UFC 284 also plays host to an interim featherweight title fight between Yair Rodriguez and Josh Emmett, plus 11 other matchups going down in Perth, Australia, so let’s get to it.
As always, all odds are courtesy of our friends at DraftKings Sportsbook.
Alexander Volkanovski, +300
I wrote a big breakdown of this fight that you can read here, but the short version is that I’m picking Islam Makhachev to win but Volkanovski has a real shot to get this done. Honestly, Volk probably is the toughest fight for Makhachev at lightweight (at least for the foreseeable future), and while I don’t favor him to win, he’s got a better chance than these odds suggest. If Volk can keep things standing, or at least survive underneath Makhachev, he can start to take over this fight down the stretch.
Francisco Prado, +225
I’ve been backing the old guard and it’s gotten me nowhere this year, time to change it up with some new blood. Francisco Prado is an undefeated, 20-year-old prospect with real upside. He looks great getting off the bus, hits hard, is aggressive, and can wrestle and grapple pretty well. There are concerns about his gas tank and this is a gigantic leap up in competition, but Jamie Mullarkey isn’t brilliant and this should end up being a fun scrap. At this number, give me the youngin’.
Parker Porter by Decision, +350
I don’t understand this line. Parker Porter as a straight up underdog is +100, by this prop is at +350? All three of Porter’s wins in the UFC have come by decision and two of Justin Tafa’s three losses have also been on the scorecards. Something isn’t adding up that there’s this big a difference in the price. Tafa is the far more dangerous fighter, but Porter has proven to be pretty durable and he keeps an outrageous pace for heavyweight. Value bet.
Alonzo Menifield by KO/TKO/DQ, +225
Menifield has been a hit or miss fighter throughout his career but his current win streak makes it seem he may have turned a corner. Violent finishes of Askar Mozharov and Misha Cirkunov have Menifield brimming with confidence and though Jimmy Crute may not have and “ov” at the end of his name, he’s having a rough go of things at the moment and not the most durable lad. Why bet Menifield straight when you can bet him by KO though, as 10 of his 13 career wins have come by way of knockout.
Tyson Pedro to Win by KO/TKO/DQ or Submission, -105
Tyson Pedro is nothing if not a finisher as all nine of his career wins have come by way of stoppage. That should continue against Modestas Bukauskas who has been finished in four of his five career losses, three of those being in the UFC. In fact, the first time around Bukauskas struggled to make headway, with his lone win coming against a late replacement, and now that he’s back inside the octagon, I expect the same outcome. He’s simply not good enough to compete at this level.
Parlay of the Week
Makhachev/Volkanovski Over 1.5 Rounds, -320
Makhachev has hit this under twice in his past three fights, but Volkanovski is a more durable fighter than Bobby Green and Dan Hooker. And Volkanovski hasn’t finished a fight in the first seven minutes since back in his regional days. This is a solid parlay piece.
Yair Rodriguez/Josh Emmett Over 2.5 Rounds, -285
Rodriguez is a dynamic and exciting striker, but outside of the odd Brian Ortega injury in his most recent fight, he hasn’t proven to be an early finisher. He went the distance with Max Holloway and Jeremy Stephens, and was one second away from going 25 minutes with the Korean Zombie. Likewise, Emmett has mostly won decisions in his career and he’s only been stopped once. This fight should go long.
Loma Lookboonmee/Elise Reed Over 2.5 Rounds, -305
Eight of Lookboonmee’s 10 career fights have gone to decision. Meanwhile, Reed has hit the over in five of her eight career fights, including three of four inside the UFC. This fight seems destined to find the scorecards.
Parlay these three bets together for +135 odds
Long Shot of the Week
Randy Brown by Submission, +1200
Don’t get me wrong, I understand the hype train for Jack Della Maddalena. He’s young, exciting, and an excellent boxer. But Randy Brown is no joke. He’s a seasoned veteran with excellent physical attributes and a well-rounded game to back it up. JDM is going to have to navigate the huge reach disadvantage and be able to fend off the submission attacks from Brown should they get into tie-ups. Frankly, Brown may have some value just as an underdog at +255, but with five career submissions to his name, and JDM’s clear ability on the feet, take a shot on these long odds.
We’re really struggling to get something going this year. I continue to choose to believe in retiring legends and clearly washed fighters to my detriment. Fortunately, there are none of those this weekend, so hopefully we can start cashing some bets. At the very least, we took some big swings this week, so we don’t need to have a perfect weekend to still see some profit.
Until next week, enjoy the fights, good luck, and gamble responsibly!
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