June 20, 2024
4 Fights We Need to See After UFC 284 | News, Scores, Highlights, Stats, and Rumors

4 Fights We Need to See After UFC 284

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    Alexander Volkanovski (left) and Islam Makhachev.

    Alexander Volkanovski (left) and Islam Makhachev.Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images

    UFC 284 went down on Sunday morning in Perth, Australia, and Saturday night for fans in the West. Whether you woke up early or stayed up late to watch it, you’re probably glad you did.

    The main event saw two of the sport’s top pound-for-pound fighters collide, as featherweight champion Alexander Volkanovski climbed up to the lightweight division to challenge Islam Makhachev for a second title. The Australian star’s quest didn’t end the way he intended, as he lost a unanimous decision to the Russian, but the fight was competitive enough that the two men seem to have gained even more respect in the aftermath.

    In the co-main event, Mexico’s Yair Rodríguez captured the interim featherweight belt—a bauble created to keep the division moving while Volkanovski went big-game hunting at lightweight—with an impressive, second-round submission win over Josh Emmett.

    Earlier in the night, red-hot Australian welterweight prospect Jack Della Maddalena picked up the biggest win of his career, battering Jamaican-American veteran Randy Brown to a first-round submission win.

    Australian heavyweight Justin Tafa also scored a nice win on the main card, clobbering his American foe Parker Porter inside around.

    Keep scrolling for the next fights we’re hoping to see when the dust has settled.

Islam Makhachev vs. Beneil Dariush

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    Islam Makhachev

    Islam MakhachevChris Unger/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images

    Islam Makhachev has never been pushed harder than he was in the UFC 284 main event, but after his decision win over Alexander Volkanovski, he remains the promotion’s lightweight champion.

    His first priority will undoubtedly be returning to his native Dagestan, in Russia, to celebrate with his mentor Khabib Nurmagomedov and the rest of their team. But it is unlikely he will have much time to relax, as there is a growing queue of contenders waiting for title shots in his division.

    Chief among those contenders is Assyrian-American Beneil Dariush.

    Dariush, 33, has won eight straight fights at lightweight, including recent triumphs over Tony Ferguson and Mateusz Gamrot. It’s been reported by several outlets that he will meet former champion Charles Oliveira at UFC 288 on May 6. That’s a great fight, but we say scrap it for now.

    Dariush already deserves a title shot more than any other contender in the lightweight Top 5. In fact, he is the only fighter in the Top 5 with more than one win in the rearview mirror. Everybody else is either on a one-fight streak or riding a loss.

    Now that Makhachev is free and clear, there’s really no reason for Dariush to risk his spot against Oliveira, who despite being one of the division’s great fighters, is still just months removed from a decisive submission loss to the champion.

Alexander Volkanovski vs. Yair Rodríguez

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    Alexander Volkanovski

    Alexander VolkanovskiChris Unger/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images

    With his lightweight title dreams temporarily dashed, Alexander Volkanovski is most likely headed back down to the featherweight division, where he has already defended the title four times against a murderer’s row of opponents.

    In that event, it’s obvious who he will fight next: Mexico’s Yair Rodríguez.

    Rodríguez was also in action at UFC 284, submitting fellow featherweight contender Josh Emmett in the co-main event to claim the division’s interim title.

    As is so often the case, there was really no reason for the UFC to create this interim title. It was always abundantly clear that Volkanovski would head back to featherweight soon no matter the outcome of his fight with Makhachev, so it’s not like the weight class was going to go years without a champion. But that’s neither here nor there.

    Now that the featherweight division has two belts, Volkanovski and Rodriguez need to unify them. The good news is that it’s an absolutely incredible matchup between two dynamic and well-rounded fighters at the peak of their competitive powers.

    Here’s hoping the UFC books it for a summer pay-per-view—maybe even its annual International Fight Week bonanza in July.

Jack Della Maddalena

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    Jack Della Maddalena

    Jack Della MaddalenaChris Unger/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images

    After submitting Randy Brown on the UFC 284 main card, Australian welterweight Jack Della Maddalena is now 4-0 in the UFC, with all four of those wins coming in the first round. To say he’s off to a good start with the promotion would be a gross understatement.

    Despite the fact that he has only been competing in the Octagon for a little over a year, he is already ready for a ranked opponent.

    As a slick boxer with devastating punching power—and apparently some solid jiu jitsu—Della Maddalena matches up beautifully with many of the welterweight division’s biggest names. He’s a matchmaker’s dream.

    Of all the compelling matchup options available for him, our pick is Brazilian-American Vicente Luque.

    Luque is the welterweight division’s No. 9-ranked contender, so this would be a massive step up in competition. But Della Maddalena has proven he’s ready for big challenges, and Luque, who has lost back-to-back fights to Geoff Neal and Belal Muhammad, isn’t really in a position to be calling the shots right now.

    The real appeal of this fight, though, is that the two welterweights are among the most exciting and dangerous strikers in the entire division. No matter who wins this one, somebody is most likely taking a nap under the Jumbotron.

Justin Tafa vs. Andrei Arlovski

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    Justin Tafa

    Justin TafaChris Unger/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images

    Australian heavyweight Justin Tafa lived up to his “Bad Man” nickname in his UFC 284 main-card scrap with Parker Porter, scoring an impressive KO in the first round.

    Tafa is now on a two-fight streak, having knocked out Harry Hunsucker in his next most recent fight. That streak definitely hasn’t erased the memory of his back-to-back losses to Carlos Felipe and Jared Vanderaa—both low-level heavyweights—in 2021, but he is definitely headed in the right direction. It’s too early to be talking about a ranked opponent for the Australian, but another win or two could change that.

    Our pick for his next opponent is Belarus’ Andrei Arlovski.

    As a former heavyweight champion with well over 50 pro fights, Arlovski looks like a massive step up in competition for Tafa, who is still just nine fights into his pro MMA career. However, Arlovski has been hot and cold for well over a decade, and while he deserves massive props for his longevity, he’s effectively become a gatekeeper in the division.

    A fight with Tafa will tell us a lot about where both men belong in the heavyweight pecking order in 2023.