Two title fights have been confirmed for UFC 284 in Perth, Australia on February 12th, with lightweight champion Islam Makhachev set for his first title defense against featherweight kingpin Alexander Volkanovski, while an interim featherweight title bout will see Yair Rodriguez go up against Josh Emmett.
Both Makhachev and Volkanovski had been impatiently waiting for their clash of champions to be confirmed since the two agreed to the fight in the Octagon after Makhachev seized the vacant 155lb title at UFC 280 last month with a second round submission of Charles Oliveira.
That marked Makhachev’s 11th win in a row in the UFC, but as impressive as that run has been, Volkanovski has also been an unstoppable force at 145lbs, racking up 12 victories in a row during his run in the promotion, including four successful title defenses.
On paper Volkanovski’s strength of schedule looks more formidable, having defeated the likes of Jose Aldo, Max Holloway (x3), Brian Ortega, Chad Mendes and The Korean Zombie during that time, while in addition to Oliveira, Makhachev has defeated the likes of Bobby Green, Dan Hooker, Thiago Moises and Arman Tsarukyan at 155lbs.
However, Makhachev can only beat the opponents put in front of him, and so far he’s done so in dominant fashion, and with concerns over Volkanovski being undersized for the move up in weight it’s the new lightweight champ who has been installed as the early favorite to win.
Meanwhile, with Volkanovski putting the featherweight title on ice in order to take this fight, the UFC have opted to go ahead with an interim 145lb title bout in the mean time which will serve as the evening’s co-main event that pits the No.2 ranked Rodriguez against the No.5 placed Emmett.
Rodriguez is coming off a first round TKO victory over Brian Ortega back in July, though it wasn’t as satisfying a win as he’d have hoped as his opponent suffered a dislocated shoulder that left him unable to continue.
Nonetheless it was a big name win for Rodriguez, who was coming off a decision loss to Max Holloway, and now he faces an in-form challenger for the interim belt in Emmett, who is currently on a five-fight winning streak, beating the likes of Shane Burgos, Dan Ige and most recently Calvin Kattar along the way.
Makhachev vs. Volkanovski and Rodriguez vs. Emmett join a UFC 284 event that has strength-in-depth, with Robert Whittaker vs. Paulo Costa having also been confirmed for the main card.