UFC 284: Makhachev vs Volkanovski - Three reasons you can't miss it on BT Sport

Islam Makhachev goes Down Under to defend his lightweight title for the first time against featherweight champion Alexander Volkanovski in a mouthwatering clash, exclusively live on BT Sport this Saturday night.

By George Mills Published: 8 February 2023 - 2.50pm

Crikey mate, we’re off to ‘Straya this weekend for the best card of the year to date as UFC 284: Makhachev vs Volkanovski lands on BT Sport exclusively live on Saturday night.

It’s going to be an absolute belter with two world titles on the line as well as a host of fun fights featuring some of the top prospects from Down Under including Jack Della Maddalena, Jimmy Crute and Tyson Pedro.

With all that coming your way, here are three reasons you don’t want to miss a second of the action at UFC 284, exclusively live on BT Sport.

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Mak and Volk go to war

UFC fans are set to be treated to a superfight of almost unprecedented prestige on Saturday night as Islam Makhachev and Alexander Volkanovski trade leather in a sizzling main event at the Perth Arena in Australia.

Reigning lightweight champion Makhachev will take his belt on the road in his very first defence of the title when he faces the challenger, reigning featherweight champion and current pound-for-pound supremo Volkanovski, in a match between the two most dominant fighters in the promotion.

Dagestani champion Makhachev emerged from the shadow of his former mentor and coach Khabib Nurmagomedov with a career-best performance to snatch the belt last time out, making light work of the dangerous Charles Oliveira with a statement submission win against the grappling specialist during an almost flawless outing.

That extended his winning run to 11 in the lightweight division while demonstrating Makhachev’s continued evolution into one of the most well-rounded combatants among his contemporaries as he out-struck and out-landed Oliveira before finishing the fight impressively on the ground.

Naysayers of the 31-year-old’s ability had previously suggested Makhachev was too one-dimensional and overly reliant on his grappling ability to live with the elite operators in the division, but those questions were answered emphatically at UFC 280 in October.

The calibre of Makhachev’s opponents during that his blistering winning run had also been a point of contention before outclassing Oliveira; the Brazilian was the first fighter inside the top five that Makhachev had ever faced.

It is to his credit then that just moments after defeating Oliveira, Makhachev called for a showdown against the number one pound-for-pound fighter in the promotion, hoping to prove once and for all that he belongs at the top of the tree in the UFC.

Volkanovski, meanwhile, has a point to prove himself as he enters the bout the betting underdog against a bigger opponent while fighting north of 145lb for the first time in more than six years.

The 34-year-old has quietly amassed one of the promotion’s all-time great winning runs during his time at featherweight, holding a trio of victories against Max Holloway alongside impressive triumphs against the likes of Jose Aldo and Brian Ortega.

“Every fight is a risk. Is it a challenge? Yeah 100%”
- Alexander Volkanovski

But for all he has proven already, the man from New South Wales says he remains motivated by the chance to upset the odds once again when he takes on Makhachev for the chance to become the UFC’s latest double-champ.

“Every fight is a risk. Is it a challenge? Yeah 100%,” Volk told ESPN’s Brett Okamoto this week.

“But the way people talk to me about it – nobody is out there challenging themselves? It blows me away. That’s not how you get better.

“It’s an opportunity for greatness obviously, but it’s an opportunity to get better and I’m always driving to get better.”

Securing the victory against Makhachev would see Volkanovski elevated to rarefied air, joining only five others in the history of the promotion to conquer two divisions simultaneously.

He’ll be buoyed by home support in front of a sold-out Perth Arena too with more than 15,000 spectators expected to pack into the iconic venue on Australia’s west coast.

Can Volk solve the Dagestani puzzle – or will Makhachev snatch the pound-for-pound mantle?

Who’s next up at 145lb?

With the undisputed featherweight king otherwise engaged on Saturday night, the 145lb will see a new temporary ruler crowned in the co-main event when Yair Rodriguez takes on Josh Emmett.

For Rodriguez, this opportunity arrives a little later in his career than many anticipated when he burst onto the scene following his victory on The Ultimate Fighter: Latin America in 2014.

Then a fresh-faced striking prodigy, Rodriguez went on to piece together five impressive wins, picking up four bonuses while taking the scalps of talented opponents like Dan Hooker, Andre Fili and the great BJ Penn.

However, his progress since then has been hampered by misfortune, poor form, bad timing and injuries with Rodriguez going a solid but unspectacular 3-2-1 since 2017.

Even his victory to book a spot in this interim featherweight showdown arrived in less than satisfactory circumstances after he was awarded a TKO victory when Brian Ortega’s shoulder gave way just minutes into the first round of their main event showdown last July.

“This is the ultimate dream of mine, becoming a world champion”
- Josh Emmett

But regardless of how he got here, the 30-year-old Rodriguez will be determined to finally deliver on the potential many have seen in him during his eight-year tenure in the UFC so far.

The Mexican is one of the most exciting fighters on the roster, bringing a party bag of unorthodox striking to the table along with a fearless will to engage.

That should marry perfectly with the always-game powerhouse Emmett’s approach to produce something special when the two men meet this Saturday night.

Emmett, 37, also arrives in this spot with something to prove haven been the beneficiary of a razor-thin decision in victory over Calvin Kattar last June.

Despite the controversy, it was another all-action performance from the Arizona man, who pocketed his third bonus win and fifth straight victory to move into the top five in the division.

Now ranked five, Emmett could ensure that the next shot at the undisputed crown is his with one final victory on the biggest night of his career Down Under.

“A lot of things as kids we dreamed of,” Emmett said this week.

“I just felt like, eventually I’ll be successful. I’ll do these things, but it’s kind of hard. They were dreams then and we’re actually living it now.

“This is the ultimate dream of mine, becoming a world champion. It does feel surreal. We’re in Australia at the Indian Ocean on a beach just hanging out about to go fight for a world title. It doesn’t get any better than that.”

Will that dream become a nightmare or can Emmett get his hands on gold for the first time?

Madda-bout Jack!

Jack Della Maddalena is fast becoming the man to watch at 155lb which speaks volumes about his frightening potential given the depth of talent in arguably the UFC’s most fiercely competitive division.

The 26-year-old has three first-round finishes in his first three fights since coming over to the UFC from Dana White’s Contender Series in September 2021.

Now fighting on the main card in his home town, Della Maddalena will have the eyes of the world on him this weekend as he looks to make it a quadruple of quick finishes when he takes on a tough veteran in Randy Brown.

Taking inspiration from UFC legend Wanderlei Silva, aptly nicknamed “The Axe Murderer”, Della Maddalena has quickly become appointment viewing during his short UFC career.

And the hard-hitting prospect has promised to put on a show when he takes to the Octagon this weekend, looking for another quick end to the action to embellish his glowing reputation.

“I'm going to go after him [Brown] from the get go,” Della explained.

“I'm going to try to get him out of there in the first round – and if not it'll be in the second.

“After that my goals for 2023 is to fight three or four more times in 2023 and be deep in that top ten at welterweight by the end of the year.

“It's going to be an incredible day. And I'm so glad it's in Perth - it's only a 15-minute drive from my house!”

He’ll need to be wary of complacency however, taking on a talented opponent in Brown who has four times as many fights in the UFC as Della Maddalena.

Now 16-4 and on a four-fight win streak, Brown is in the form of his life and will be eyeing a huge scalp that would see him steal the shine from the hometown hero and set up his own run towards the 155lb rankings.

Can Della get it done? Or will Randy turn the town Brown?