UFC 284 results, takeaways: Islam Makhachev rounds out his skill set, Alexander Volkanovski elevates in loss

Perth, Australia got pretty much everything imaginable on Saturday night at UFC 284. The frenetic Aussie crowd brought tremendous energy throughout the night, including when they cheered on compatriot and featherweight champion Alexander Volkanovski in his bout in the main event with lightweight champion Islam Makhachev.

Volkanovski had a huge fight trying to become a two-division champion but ultimately failed, losing by unanimous decision in a fight that showed the skill, resilience and heart of both champions.

The co-main event was shiny showcase for Yair Rodriguez, when the Mexican star punched Josh Emmett in the legs before finishing the fight with a triangle choke in the second round. With this victory, Rodriguez captured the interim featherweight world title and will now look forward to fighting Volkanovski later in 2023 to unify the belts.

With these two big title matches in the books, let’s look back at the big lessons learned from UFC 284.

Makhachev showed a frightening full set of skills

Makhachev did not fight Volkanovski as the heavy favorite because he was expected to beat the featherweight champion. In fact, the idea that much of the fight would play out as a duel would mean things were going in a terrible direction for the native of Dagestan, Russia.

However, as the fight progressed, Makhachev showed himself more than capable of not only hanging on his feet with Volkanovskiy, but also often getting the better of shock exchanges. This was not a result of Makhachev’s size, as Volkanovski was getting the better of taller fighters than Makhachev, namely Max Holloway. Makhachev’s success lay in not clinging to Volkanovski’s feints and landing short and fast punches, repeatedly cutting Volkanovski and punishing the featherweight champion almost every time he casually let go of his hands.

Combining a well-developed striking game with his dominant grappling and groundwork, Makhachev has a toolbox brimming with options for solving any problem that may arise. Not even Khabib Nurmagomedov has ever put on a flash of striking like Makhachev did on Saturday night, which means the rest of the lightweight division could be in for a tough time.

Volkanovski shares rise despite losses

Volkanovskiy not necessity accept the fight with Makhachev. Despite fighting at 155 pounds early in his career, Volkanovski is in the featherweight division. Like most truly great fighters, Volkanovski wanted to build his legacy by taking on the biggest challenge he could find. It meant moving up in weight class, being the universally recognized #1 fighter in the weight class, and coming face to face with the new unstoppable power of lightweight.

Many thought that Volkanovskiy would not be able to cope with Makhachev’s strength. He was never really muscular.

Many believed that he would not be able to survive after the battle engulfed the land. He survived and escaped several times and never got into trouble when Makhachev was in an advantageous position.

The odds suggested he had little chance of winning. However, if a few short fragments of the action had played out differently, Volkanovski would have raised his hand.

Volkanovski proved once again to be incredibly talented and tough, taking on – and nearly winning – the biggest challenge of his career. He can now return to featherweight to do business, but is mindful of returning to 155 pounds for a rematch.

The evolution of Yair Rodriguez is complete

Over the years, Rodriguez has established himself as a fighter with a flamboyant, fan-friendly punching style. This style left him open to takedowns that negated his best tools and at times he looked lost as he was forced to fight off his back. However, Rodriguez found success through a combination of speed, angles and leg strength early in his career.

Emmett was able to get to the top of Rodriguez on the ground twice, and both times Rodriguez not only had a game plan to survive, but also went on the offensive. This saw Rodriguez work from defense to a punch attempt and a smooth transition to a triangle choke late in the fight in the second round.

Like Makhachev in reverse, Rodriguez showed that the dedication to developing his wrestling skills turned him into a real fighter. With the confidence that he can survive and even thrive on earth, Rodriguez becomes even more deadly with his unorthodox punch attack.

The Volkanovski fight is one of the most exciting possible fights that can be fought in the octagon and all fight fans should be looking forward to their clash at the end of this year.


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