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UFC 284 Main Card Picks on DraftKings Sportsbook

Tim Finnegan breaks down the UFC 284 main event on DraftKings Sportsbook.

UFC 280: Oliveira v Makhachev Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC

UFC 284 is taking place on Saturday from Australia, and despite the location, the main card will have its usual start time of 10:00 p.m. ET. The card is headlined by a champion vs. champion fight for the UFC lightweight title. Featherweight champion Alexander Volkanovski is moving up a weight class to attempt to become a two-division champion, and he’ll face lightweight champion Islam Makhachev. Makhachev is making his first title defense after beating Charles Oliveira for the title in October 2022.

Since Volkanovski will not be defending the featherweight title in the short term, an interim title has been created, and Yair Rodriguez will face Josh Emmett in the co-main event for the interim belt.

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  • Brandon Moreno Moneyline
  • Total Rounds Over 2.5
  • Exact Method of Victory: KO/TKO/DQ
  • Winning Round: 3

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Islam Makhachev vs. Alexander Volkanovski

Despite this being a champion vs. champion fight between two incredible fighters, Islam Makhachev is a huge favorite on DraftKings Sportsbook, carrying a moneyline of about -400. It speaks to how dominant Makhachev has been recently. Makhachev is on an 11-fight winning streak and is 23-1 in his professional career. Makhachev is coming off an impressive submission finish over submission ace Charles Oliveira, and Makhachev’s offensive grappling looks unstoppable.

Makhachev is a monstrous offensive wrestler who has an elite top game that allows him to drag opponents into the deep end and either control them for a decision win or drown them with a finish. Lately, it’s been drowning opponents with finishes. Makhachev has finished each of his last five fights, with four of them by submission.

Because Makhachev is so good at smothering his opponents with offensive grappling, he barely absorbs any strikes, absorbing under one significant strike per minute, which is amazing. Makhachev does not allow many opportunities for opponents to land strikes on him because they are too busy fighting for their lives to defend his takedowns and survive his top game.

Alexander Volkanovski is the featherweight champion, but he does have experience fighting at heavier weight classes. Volkanovski started his MMA career at welterweight before dropping down to lightweight and then featherweight. Volkanovski was also famously an undersized rugby player who would compete against athletes with much bigger frames than him. These factors could help mitigate some of the issues of a featherweight moving up to lightweight.

Volkanovski is an elite striker and will have the advantage for as long as he can keep this fight standing. Volkanovski is landing nearly seven significant strikes per minute, which is a massive rate, and a rate double the amount he absorbs. Despite being four inches shorter than Makhachev, Volkanovski actually has a slight reach advantage, which is notable for distance strikes. Volkanovski has incredible cardio and can run a very fast pace, which can wear opponents out.

Despite Volkanovski having the striking advantage on paper, Makhachev’s offensive wrestling may limit some of Volkanovski’s striking arsenal, especially kicks, which can make fighters more prone to being taken down due to extending their leg limbs. Volkanovski got taken down by Brian Ortega after Ortega caught a Volkanovski kick, and Volkanovski ended up in a mounted guillotine, which nearly finished Volkanovski.

Volkanovski has experience fighting an elite wrestler before—Chad Mendes. Mendes was able to take Volkanovski down three times in less than two rounds, but Volkanovski quickly got back to his feet. Mendes was only able to record 45 seconds of control time in the fight despite recording three takedowns. Mendes did have Volkanovski in a dominant back mount position off his third takedown, but Volkanovski again quickly escaped the bad position and got back to his feet. Volkanovski’s ability to get back to his feet will be critical against Makhachev.

The path to victory for Volkanovski is to weather Makhachev’s takedowns and top game and get back to his feet, where he can utilize his advantages in striking and cardio to do damage on the feet. Makhachev’s only career loss is by TKO off a counter-lead hook in the standup portion of the fight. Volkanovski is also incredibly tough and has shown the ability to survive on the ground in very bad positions. As mentioned above, Volkanovski amazingly survived a mounted guillotine choke in his fight against Brian Ortega, a position that would have finished most other fighters. Volkanovski later survived a triangle choke attempt from Ortega that also would have finished many other fighters.

Volkanovski also had his back taken by Chad Mendes but quickly escaped and got to his feet. It’s not out of the question that Volkanovski could survive on the ground and find enough time on the feet to land strikes that hurt Makhachev.

However, Makhachev is unlike any opponent Volkanovski has faced at featherweight. Makhachev’s offensive grappling is monstrously dangerous, and his frame is much larger than Chad Mendes. Weight classes exist for a reason—it’s because the fighter who weighs more is already operating at an advantage.

If Makhachev can secure a dominant position on the ground like both Chad Mendes and Brian Ortega did in their fights against Volkanovski, it’s hard to see Volkanovski surviving. Makhachev will be in a good position to stick to Volkanovski like glue with top pressure and win the fight by finish from a dominant position on the ground.

Pick: Islam Makhachev to win by finish (-110)

Other considerations: Islam Makhachev to win by submission (+165)

Same Game Parlay (SGP) is available on DraftKings Sportsbook for the UFC! To place a SGP:

  1. Find a fight that has the SGP icon in the top-left corner.
  2. Toggle “Same Game Parlay” on. Once it’s on, all available bets will appear.
  3. Build your Same Game Parlay. Combine multiple bets together from one fight. The more bets you combine, the more you can win.
  4. Place your parlay. Add your Same Game Parlay to your bet slip, enter your wager amount, and submit your bet.

Read more about SGP at the DraftKings Sportsbook SGP page!

All views expressed are my own. I am an employee of DraftKings and am ineligible to play in public DFS or DKSB contests. The contents contained in this article do not constitute a representation that any particular strategy will guarantee success. All customers should use their own skill and judgment in building lineups.