UFC 284 was electric. The lightweight headliner lived up to expectations, and the featherweight co-headliner saw a new champion crowned.
The early preliminary portion of the card started with Elvis Brenner getting his first UFC win with a split decision against Zubaira Tukhugov. The decision was not well-received, as the majority of fans and pundits, including UFC color commentator Michael Bisping, thought Tukhugov was robbed. Blake Bilder turned in a great performance against Shane Young. The Contender Series alum blended his striking and wrestling well, earning the unanimous decision against the City Kickboxing product. Loma Lookboonmee gave us our first finish of the night, submitting Elise Reed with a rear-naked choke in the second round of their fight. Lookboonmee ducked under a punch and got Reed to the ground, taking her back and sinking in the choke. Jack Jenkins vs. Don Shainis was a scrap! Both fighters had moments, but ‘Phar’ was on point with those leg kicks. A fun fact about Jenkins: he has broken the legs of three of his past five opponents. And the way he was kicking tonight? Shainis was thisclose to joining the group.
The ESPN preliminary portion of the card saw Jamie Mullarkey score his second consecutive win with a unanimous decision against Francisco Prado. The Australian was better in every department and handed the Brazilian his first loss as a professional. Kleydson Rodrigues laid waste to Shannon Ross with a 59-second TKO! ‘KR’ came forward and lit Ross up with a barrage of punches until the ‘Turkish Delight’ fell to the canvas. That was undoubtedly a bonus-worthy performance, but Rodrigues missed weight, so he may be excluded from our awards. Joshua Culibao overcame a spinning wheel kick to the groin (ouch!) to submit Melsik Baghdasaryan. After ‘Kuya’ popped the ‘Gun’ with a jab, he followed him to ground and snatched up a rear-naked choke that forced Baghdasaryan to tap. That was a slick sequence! Modestas Bukauskas began his second UFC stint with a decision over Tyson Pedro. The ‘Baltic Gladiator’ was fast and took advantage of a labored Pedro for the win.
The main portion of the card kicked off with a ‘Fight of the Night’ contender between Jimmy Crute and Alonzo Menifield. The ‘Brute’ found success with his wrestling, while ‘Atomic’ almost got his opponent out of there with near-fight-ending punches. In the end, the fight was ruled a majority draw (Menifield was deducted a point for a fence grab). Crute and Menifield agreed to a rematch, so perhaps that could happen later. Justin Tafa got himself a walk-off KO of Parker Porter. The ‘Bad Man’ connected with a well-timed left hand when Porter moved in and it was over. Also the line he delivered in his post-fight interview, ‘If you reach, I have to teach’ was excellent. Jack Della Maddalena passed the toughest test of his career thus far with flying colors. Once he closed the distance on Randy Brown, the 26-year-old connected with a right hand that sent ‘Rude Boy’ stumbling to the canvas. Della Maddalena followed him with hammerfists, but switched up to a rear-naked choke. That was his fourth consecutive first-round finish since joining the UFC!
Yair Rodríguez became the interim UFC featherweight champion with a stunning finish of Josh Emmett in the co-main event. ‘El Pantera’ had Emmett hurt with kicks to the body, but the latter stayed on his feet and fired off some stiff punches. The Team Alpha Male product was able to get Rodríguez down, but he worked well off his back, which eventually led to the triangle choke finish. As for his next assignment? Rodríguez said he expects to unify titles with UFC featherweight champion Alexander Volkanovski soon.
Islam Makhachev retained the UFC lightweight championship against Alexander Volkanovski in what should easily be considered a ‘Fight of the Year’ candidate. Makhachev vs. Volkanovski was such a competitive fight. Makhachev proved he could get Volkanovski to the ground, but the ‘Great’ showed he could get up and force the American Kickboxing Academy (AKA) product to stay on the feet. In the end, Makhachev was declared the winner by unanimous decision.
Performance of the Night: Jack Della Maddalena and Yair Rodríguez
Loma Lookboonmee def. Elise Reed by submission (rear-naked choke) at 0:44 of Round 2
Kleydson Rodrigues def. Shannon Ross by TKO (punches) at 0:59 of Round 1
Josh Culibao def. Melsik Baghdasaryan by submission (rear-naked choke) at 2:02 of Round 2
Justin Tafa def. Parker Porter by knockout (punch) at 1:06 of Round 1
Jack Della Maddalena def. Randy Brown by submission (rear-naked choke) at 2:13 of Round 1
Yair Rodríguez def. Josh Emmett by submission (triangle choke) at 4:19 of Round 2
Fight of the Night: Islam Makhachev vs. Alexander Volkanovski
Elves Benner def. Zubaira Tukhugov by split decision (29-28, 28-29, 30-27)
Blake Bilder def. Shane Young by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)
Jack Jenkins def. Don Shainis by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)
Jamie Mullarkey def. Fransisco Prado by unanimous decision (30-27 x3)
Modestas Bukauskas def. Tyson Pedro by unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28)
Jimmy Crute vs. Alonzo Menifield ruled a majority draw (29-27, 28-28, 28-28)
Islam Makhachev def. Alexander Volkanovski by unanimous decision (48-47, 48-47, 49-46)