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UFC 284 predictions: Early ‘Prelims’ undercard preview | Islam vs. Volkanovski

Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) is bringing more “Prelims” fights to ESPN/ESPN+ this weekend (Sat., Feb. 11, 2023) when UFC 284: “Makhachev vs. Volkanovski” storms RAC Arena in Perth, Australia.’s Patrick Stumberg kicks off the UFC 284 “Prelims” party with the first installment of a two-part undercard preview series below.

UFC 282: Ponzinibbio v Morono Photo by Cooper Neill/Zuffa LLC

Australia’s mightiest son chases history at UFC 284 this Saturday (Feb. 11, 2023) when Featherweight champion, Alexander Volkanovski, packs on 10 pounds to battle Lightweight monarch, Islam Makhachev, in Perth, Australia. The 145-pound division moves without its ruler in the pay-per-view (PPV) co-feature, which sees Yair Rodriguez battle Josh Emmett for the interim title. Before that, Jack Della Maddalena looks to continue his rise at Randy Brown’s expense and Justin Tafa battles Parker Porter in a battle of big men.

Eight “Prelims” undercard bouts will set UFC 284’s PPV stage, split evenly between Fight Pass/ESPN+ and ESPN/ESPN+. Here’s the first batch ...

LIVE! Watch UFC 286 PPV On ESPN+ Here!

CHAMPIONSHIP TRILOGY! Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) returns to The O2 in London England, on Sat., March 18, 2023, with newly-minted Welterweight kingpin, Leon Edwards, running it back with former 170-pound champion, Kamaru Usman, for a third (and likely final) time. In UFC 286’s pay-per-view (PPV) co-main event, all-action Lightweight knockout artists, Justin Gaethje and Rafael Fiziev, will lock horns with the winner inching closer to a future Lightweight title shot.

Don’t miss a single second of EPIC face-punching action!

145 lbs.: Jack Jenkins (10-2) vs. Don Shainis (12-4)

“Phar” capped off his run in Eternal MMA with a one-sided rout of Rod Costa to defend his Featherweight title. His wins sent him to the Contender Series, where he battered Freddy Emiliano Linares with ground-and-pound to punch his ticket to UFC.

He’ll have an inch of height and 1.5 inches of reach on “Shameless”.

Shainis’ five-fight win streak saw him win regional titles in two weight classes before stepping up to face Sodiq Yusuff in his UFC debut. The Cinderella story was not to be, as Shainis tapped to a Yusuff guillotine just 30 seconds into the first round.

He’s knocked out eight pro foes and submitted two others.

“Shameless” needs to make this as ugly as possible as quickly as possible. Jenkins’ boxing is several levels above Shainis’ and the former has shown off enough wrestling skills to make grinding him out a tall task. Where Jenkins struggles is when he can’t get comfortable, meaning Shainis has a shot if he can put on the same pressure Linares did without allowing Jenkins to bail himself out with wrestling.

I’m not convinced he can pull it off. Jenkins’ ability to go five rounds means Shainis can’t rely on overwhelming him late, and Shainis will have more and more trouble initiating the grind as Jenkins tears up his lead leg and jabs his face off. Jenkins steadily breaks him down for either a wide decision or late stoppage.

Prediction: Jenkins via unanimous decision

115 lbs.: Loma Lookboonmee (7-3) vs. Elise Reed (6-2)

Lookboonmee put a UFC debut loss to Angela Hill behind her with two straight victories over Jinh Yu Frey and Sam Hughes, only to suffer an upset loss to Lupita Godinez her next time out. She got back on track in 2022 by surviving a late submission attack to beat Contender Series veteran Denis Gomes.

She stands two inches shorter than Reed and faces a 1.5-inch reach disadvantage.

Following a strong reign as Cage Fury Strawweight Champion, Reed stepped up in weight on short notice to fight Sijara Eubanks, who put her away with ground-and-pound late in the first round. Things have worked out a bit better at her natural weight class, where she’s scored upsets of Cory McKenna and Melissa Martinez in her last three appearances.

She’s scored two pro wins by knockout.

The critical element here is Lookboonmee’s takedowns. Reed proved that her long-range kickboxing can overcome high-level strikers when she beat Martinez, and while Lookboonmee unquestionably has the edge in close, it’s not hard to imagine Reed using her height and length to pepper Lookboonmee while staying out of the danger zone.

Thus, the takedowns. Lookboonmee ragdolled a very solid wrestler in Hughes, who ran roughshod over Reed on the mat. Lookboonmee isn’t always the best at using the correct weapons at the correct times, but with such a clear avenue to victory, it’s hard to pick against her. Strong clinch work and wrestling earn Lookboonmee a comfortable win.

Prediction: Lookboonmee via unanimous decision

145 lbs.: Shane Young (13-6) vs. Blake Bilder (7-0-1)

Young, who had the unenviable task of facing Alexander Volkanovski in his UFC debut, pushed his Octagon record back over .500 by beating Rolando Dy and Austin Arnett. He’s winless since, falling to Ludovit Klein and Omar Morales in back-to-back bouts.

This marks his first bout in nearly two years.

Bilder went 7-0 as an amateur before a pro start that saw him win and defend the Cage Fury Featherweight title. He entered Contender Series as an underdog against Canadian veteran Alex Morgan, but secured a UFC contract via first-round submission.

He’ll enjoy a four-inch reach advantage.

It really is a shame that Bilder is so fragile. He’s admirably aggressive on the feet and delightfully smooth on the mat, but recent efforts suggest that he can’t take the sort of firepower Young dishes out. Though Young has struggled with strong takedown artists before, Bilder lacks the wrestling skill to bring his strong ground game to bear.

In a standup battle, Young’s technique, experience, and durability figure to win the day. So long as he’s not too hampered by rust, he out-wars Bilder to a stoppage before the midway point.

Prediction: Young via second round technical knockout

155 lbs.: Zubaira Tukhugov (20-5-1) vs. Elves Brenner (13-3)

Now entering his 10th year in the Octagon, Tukhugov has managed just eight appearances with a 5-2-1 record. His current 2-1 run features a split decision loss to Hakeem Dawodu sandwiched between losses to Kevin Aguilar and Ricardo Ramos.

He fights for the first time in more than two years.

Brenner, representing Chute Boxe Diego Lima, won his first nine professional bouts before hitting a 2-3 rut. He enters the cage this Saturday on the heels of two consecutive first-round submissions, the last one coming in March 2022.

He replaces Joel Alvarez, who ran into visa issues, on less than a month’s notice.

I’ve seen my share of young fighters make incredible technical turnarounds out of nowhere, and Brenner better hope he’s one of them. He can’t employ his preferred “takedown to ground-and-pound to submission” approach against a wrestler of Tukhugov’s caliber, and to make things worse, he’s proven vulnerable to the sorts of heavy right hands that Tukhugov just loves to throw.

If the miracle improvement isn’t there, Brenner has to bank on a combination of rust and lack of size on Tukhugov’s part. That’s just too many stars that have to align, especially when Tukhugov’s power and technique advantages give him so much more wiggle room. He levels Brenner with an early overhand.

Prediction: Tukhugov via first round technical knockout

Four more UFC 284 “Prelims” bouts remain to preview and predict, including two Octagon debuts and the return of a two-time Cage Warriors champion. Same time tomorrow, Maniacs.

Remember that will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC 284 fight card right here, starting with the early ESPN+ “Prelims” matches online, which are scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. ET, then the remaining undercard on ESPN/ESPN+ at 8 p.m. ET, before the PPV main card start time at 10 p.m. ET on ESPN+ PPV.

To check out the latest and greatest UFC 284: “Islam vs. Volkanovski” news and notes be sure to hit up our comprehensive event archive right here.

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