The UFC returns to Australia for the first time since 2019, bringing a Pay-Per-View card already set to break records.
In the main event, it’s champ vs. champ and #1 vs. #2, pound-for-pound, as Alexander Volkanovski moves up to Lightweight to try to take down newly crowned champion Islam Makhachev. The co-main pits Josh Emmett opposite the high-flying Yair Rodriguez with interim Featherweight gold on the line.
Islam Makhachev vs. Alexander Volkanovski (LW Championship)
After a knockout loss in his sophomore UFC appearance, Islam Makhachev (23-1, 12-1 UFC) racked up a ten-fight win streak en route to a title shot. He effectively dominated Charles Oliveira on the feet and the mat, knocking the Brazilian fan favorite down before sinking in an arm triangle choke in the second round. Cousin to Khabib Nurmagomedov, Makhachev brings a high-level Sambo attack with no shortage of well-timed shot entries and quick trips. Once secured in top position, he releases highly effective ground and pound, but is incredibly skilled at forcing a submission against even the most high level of BJJ players. While his striking is steadily improving, his poor head movement and striking defense remain his main weakness, though Makahachev absorbs less than one significant strike per minute inside the Octagon.
Alexander Volkanovski (25-1, 12-0 UFC) is stepping up to Lightweight for the first time in his UFC tenure in an effort to become the fifth double champion in the promotion’s history. After claiming Featherweight gold with a decision over Max Holloway, he rattled off four straight title defenses. He was last seen putting a stamp on the Holloway trilogy, delivering a true masterclass in range management and defensive kickboxing, all while landing nearly two hundred significant strikes. Volkanovski mixes in wrestling quite well and sports a 73% takedown defense rate, something he is certainly drilling here. Key weapons of Volk include his championship pedigree gas tank and durability, as seen in his gutsy KO over Chad Mendes and inhuman effort fending off a Brian Ortega guillotine.
As much as I hope we see a competitive affair, I am agreeing with the lopsided odds here and fully expect Islam to dominate this fight on the mat. While Volkanovski has been putting in considerable time with Craig Jones, Makhachev has him sorely outmatched on the ground here, particularly in the wrestling department. Makhacehv’s powerful throws and usage of the clinch to secure takedowns will be extra effective against the smaller opponent. While Volkanovksi does have a massive striking edge and I am expecting him to make this a dogfight, I expect Makhachev to find his neck shortly after the midway point.
My Pick: Islam Makhachev via Submission
Yair Rodriguez vs. Josh Emmett (FTW Championship)
My Pick: Yair Rodriguez via Knockout
Randy Brown vs. Jack Della Maddalena (WW)
My Pick: Jack Della Maddalena via Knockout
Justin Tafa vs. Parker Porter (HW)
My Pick: Parker Porter via Decision
Jimmy Crute vs. Alonzo Menifield (LHW)
My Pick: Alonzo Menifield via Knockout
The main card goes live at 10 PM EST with eight prelims bouts kicking off the action at 6 PM EST.
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