UFC 284 went down last night (Sat., Feb. 11, 2023) inside RAC Arena in Perth, Australia, featuring a Lightweight title fight between division champion, Islam Makhachev, defending his belt against Featherweight kingpin, Alexander Volkanovski. Once the dust settled, Mahkhachev retained his title by winning a highly-competitive and hard-fought 25-minute fight (see it here). In the co-main event, Yair Rodriguez defeated Josh Emmett via second round submission to capture the interim Featherweight title (see it here).
Biggest Winner: Islam Makhachev
It wasn’t easy, but Makhachev managed to earn his first-ever title defense, doing enough to outscore a game Volkanovski on his home turf after 25 minutes of high-level fighting. Makhachev took some good shots and, even though he struggled to take down “The Great” a few times, he showed the reason(s) his wrestling is on another level. But, it also proves just how tough, durable and talented Volkanovski is because the takedowns were hard to come by. And while “The Great’s” stock went up drastically, let’s not completely discount Makhachev’s performance against a man who hadn’t tasted defeat in more than one decade. Islam will likely move to the top of the pound-for-pound list and can focus on his next title defense against an actual 155-pound contender.
Runner Up: Yair Rodriguez
Rodriguez had perhaps one of the best performances of his career — and it came at the perfect time — winning the interim Featherweight strap by putting it on Josh Emmett from the jump. Rodriguez came out aggressive with his kicks, hurting Emmett early. Once he smelled blood, “El Pantera” never let his foot off the pedal, ultimately catching his foe in an air-tight triangle choke to force the tap in round two. With the win, Rodriguez joins Brandon Moreno as the first duo to be champs from Mexico at the same time, as well as earns himself a shot at Volkanovski’s belt later this year in what should without a doubt be one of the best fights of 2023.
Biggest Loser: Shane Young
I contemplated putting Emmett here because I would’ve liked to have seen a bit more from him in a title fight, but Rodriguez was simply on point, limiting Emmett’s chance to pop off major offense. But, Young gets the nod here for the simple fact that his loss to Blake Bilder is his third in a row. Young, who fought Volkanovski in his UFC debut way back in 2017, hasn’t had all that much success inside the Octagon, only managing to rack up a 2-5 record, which could cut his time with the promotion short if he doesn’t get back in the win column in a hurry.
For complete UFC 284 results and coverage click here.