We are back for another exciting weekend of combat sports for UFC 284 in Australia! We have an action-packed 13-fight slate on DraftKings and a very solid PPV lineup to kick of 2023. It also helps that on DraftKings we have another $200,000 to first place in the main contest.

As always, I give my analysis and DraftKings strategy based on how I see each fight matchup playing out. Feel free to hit me up on Twitter  with any questions that you have leading up until fight night Saturday.

Zubaira Tukhugov vs Elves Brener
Tukhugov, -500; Brenner, +400

Zubaira Tukhugov last fought at UFC 267 in October of 2021. He is coming off a decision victory over Ricardo Ramos and 12 of his 20 career wins have come by decision. He is a technical striker but does not throw much volume on the feet. Additionally, he is a good control grappler and averages 2.46 takedowns per 15 minutes. The main concern with him aside from the low output at times is that he is notorious for having a tough weight cut and it affects his cardio. It’s possible the move up in weight class to 155 lbs. can help with that but we shall see.

His opponent, Elves Brener is making his UFC debut on short notice. Brener is a 13-3 prospect fighting out of Brazil. He is primarily a grappler with 11 of his 13 career wins coming by submission. The problem is that he is very one-dimensional and I expect him to be at a wrestling and grappling disadvantage in this matchup.

Tukhugov is tough to trust at a big favorite price tag but he is more experienced fighter with a clear technical advantage in multiple areas. I expect him to land takedowns and control the fight on the mat. Tukhugov by decision is the official pick but there are better spend ups this week on DraftKings.

Shane Young vs Blake Bilder
Young, -135; Bilder, +115

Shane Young is coming off nearly a two-year layoff as he last fought Omar Morales to a decision and lost in March of 2021. He is currently on a two-fight losing streak and will look to get back in the win column this weekend. He is primarily a striker and 10 of his 13 career wins have come inside the distance. He typically pushes a high pace on the feet and will throw in volume. The concern with Young is that he is very hittable himself and only defends takedowns at 56% in the UFC.

His opponent, Blake Bilder is making his UFC debut off a win on Dana White’s Contender Series last season. He is the former Bantamweight champion in Cage Fury and five of his seven career wins have come inside the distance. His striking is a little wild but he does have power although it is clear his best skillset is his submission grappling. When he is able to get his opponent’s down, he is very aggressive on top and will hunt for submissions. The main concern with Bilder is that he is just as hittable as Young on the feet but seems to be less durable so he likely needs to turn this into a grappling fight.

This is a fun fight as I expect both guys to bring the action which makes me want to target both sides on DraftKings as I am expecting the winner to score well. Both guys are untrustworthy in my eyes but both have clear finishing potential as well so I would not want to ignore this fight. Young by TKO is the official pick.

Loma Lookboonmee vs Elise Reed
Lookboonmee, -265; Reed, +225

Loma Lookboonmee is coming off a decision victory over Denise Gomes in September. She is a 7-3 prospect with six of those wins coming by way of decision. She comes from a technical striking background and is sharp in the clinch and her nonstop kicking attacks. She has also shown an ability to mix in takedowns as she averages nearly two takedowns per 15 minutes. While not much of a threat to submit you, she has good judo and sweeps in the clinch that are scoring points.

Her opponent, Elise Reed is coming off a win over Melissa Martinez at UFC 279 in September. Reed is primarily a kickboxer but not to the level of Lookboonmee and she will be at a disadvantage in every area in this fight. She cannot match the volume of Lookboonmee and should be dominated in the clinch exchanges. Lastly, she does not defend takedowns well at just 50% and is a complete liability on the mat.

There are better fights to target on DraftKings but this seems like a clear spot for Lookboonmee to get her hand raised. I expect her to get the better of the striking exchanges while landing more volume and likely adding one or two trip takedowns as well. Lookboonmee by decision is the official pick.

Jack Jenkins vs Don Shainis
Jenkins, -330; Shainis, +275

Jack Jenkins is making his UFC debut after earning a contract on Dana White’s Contender Series last season. He is a 10-2 prospect with eight of his wins coming inside the distance and has gotten training rounds in with Alexander Volkanovski. The crowd is very likely to get behind him as the local fighter here and he is the former featherweight champion in Eternal MMA promotion. He has some technical striking along with some devastating leg kicks as well. His offensive striking is very solid, but he has lapses defensively and can be out grappled by opponents with a competent ground game.

His opponent, Don Shainis is coming off his UFC debut in October where he was submitted inside the first round against Sodiq Yusuff. He carries some power in his hands and has some heavy leg kicks as well. He has also looked to wrestle multiple times across the regional scene, but his level of competition was extremely low and I would be surprised to see him have much grappling success against Jenkins.

I do not rate Jenkins as highly as the rest of the market but this matchup is very favorable as Shainis is simply not UFC level. Jenkins should have the advantage in the striking department and Shainis is likely drawing thin to an early knockout. Jenkins by TKO is the official pick.

Jamie Mullarkey vs Francisco Prado
Mullarkey, -250; Prado, +210

Jamie Mullarkey is coming off a split-decision victory over Michael Johnson last July. Mullarkey is a well-rounded fighter with power on the feet but is able to mix in the grappling as well as he averages 2.53 takedowns per 15 minutes. He is a junkyard dog and is always going to fight for your money if he is conscious. That is really the only concern with him is his durability as he has taken a ton of damage and has been knocked out three times in his career.

His opponent, Francisco Prado is making his UFC debut and is just 20 years old. He sports an undefeated 11-0 record with eight of those wins coming inside the first round. However, the level of competition has been extremely low on the regional scene and this is a significant test for him this weekend. He is very explosive and powerful but reckless and his cardio is entirely unproven.

Mullarkey is hittable enough to warrant concern in this matchup. I will have some exposure to Prado as he has the potential to bomb on him early but the most likely outcome is Mullarkey grinds on this kid and takes over as the fight goes on. Mullarkey by TKO is the official pick and this is a great fight to target on DraftKings.

Kleydson Rodrigues vs Shannon Ross
Rodrigues, -320; Ross, +265

Kleydson Rodrigues is coming off a split-decision loss to CJ Vergara at UFC 274 last May. He is a well-rounded prospect with powerful kicks and a solid ground game as well. He throws good volume on the feet but does not have great cardio and seems to slow down in fights that get extended. I would have more concerns with him if this were a different matchup but this seems like a layup.

His opponent, Shannon Ross is coming off a loss on Dana White’s Contender Series. I am surprised to see him fight at the UFC level as he does not belong. He was dropped three times in his Contender Series and knocked out in the second round. He has power and will go for it but his durability is a major concern and I think Rodrigues could have success grappling him as well. Rodrigues by TKO is the official pick.

Josh Culibao vs Melsik Baghdasaryan
Culibao, -120; Baghdasaryan, +100

Josh Culibao is coming off a split-decision victory over Seung Woo Choi at UFC 275 last June. He is a 10-1 prospect with five of his 10 victories coming by knockout. He also fought to a draw against Charles Jourdain back in 2020. He is primarily a striker with technical boxing and solid leg kicks to go along with his punching power. He holds a purple belt in BJJ but has never landed a takedown in the UFC so I doubt that is the gameplan in this fight.

His opponent, Melsik Baghdasaryan is coming off a decision victory over Bruno Souza back at UFC 268 in November of 2021. He was supposed to fight last October but was forced out due to a hand injury and I am excited to see him get back in the octagon this weekend. Baghdasaryan is a one-dimensional striker but a very good one at that. He is very technical on the feet and has clear power in his hands with five of his seven wins coming by knockout. The weakness of Baghdasaryan is his gas tank as he does fade in fights that get extended and it is most noticeably in round three.

This is a banger matchup as we have two powerful strikers that enjoy slugging it out on the feet. I expect this one to stay standing unless someone gets dropped and I do have significant interest on DraftKings as well as they are both priced in the mid-range. Both guys are capable of winning by knockout but I favor the technicality and striking experience of Baghdasaryan who I expect to be landing the more powerful shots and be throwing more volume as well. Baghdasaryan by decision is the official pick although a knockout would not surprise me either.

Tyson Pedro vs Modestas Bukauskas
Pedro, -240; Bukauskas, +200

Tyson Pedro is coming off a first-round finish over Harry Hunsucker at UFC 278 in August. That makes it two straight first-round finishes since the long layoff back in 2018 and will look to keep the momentum going this weekend. Pedro is a low volume striker but has devastating leg kicks and real power as he has landed four knockdown across his eight UFC bouts. Additionally, he has sneaky good submission skills with five submission victories on his record although he rarely looks to take the fight to the ground.

His opponent, Modestas Bukauskas is making his return to the UFC after being released in 2021. He went 1-3 in his UFC tenure but suffered a brutal leg injury in his fight against Khalil Rountree. He is primarily a striker with nine of his 13 wins coming by knockout. He moves a bit awkward on the feet and is hittable as well. He rarely looks to grapple so he is typically reliant on big moments or knockouts.

This fight has a wide range of outcomes in terms of DraftKings scoring. Both guys are typically slow starters and do not put a ton of volume out there. They also are not aggressive in pursuing takedowns which means this fight likely busts outside of an early finish unless Bukauskas pulls off the upset. For that reason, I plan to be underweight to Pedro and overweight to Bukauskas on DraftKings even though he probably loses. Pedro by TKO is the official pick.

Justin Tafa vs Parker Porter
Tafa, -125; Porter, +105

Justin Tafa is coming off a first-round knockout victory over Harry Hunsucker in December of 2021 and has had a sizable layoff since then. He is primarily a boxer with solid technique and big power in his shots. All five of his career wins have come by knockout and all of them came inside the first two rounds. He did have a very close decision that I thought he won against Carlos Felipe so he has proven he can win rounds in extended fights.

His opponent, Parker Porter is coming off a first-round submission loss to Jailton Almeida in May of last year. Porter is a high-volume striker and is able to keep a high pace for the Heavyweight division. He can also occasionally mix in a takedown or two which helps secure rounds. The main concern with Porter in this matchup is his durability as he has been knocked out three times in his career and been finished in six of his seven professional losses.

These boys are going to slug it out on the feet, and I favor Tafa’s pure boxing ability more so than Porter along with his durability as well. Tafa by knockout is the official pick.

Jack Della Maddalena vs Randy Brown
Maddalena, -320; Brown, +265

Talk about a fighter who is surging right now, Jack Maddalena enters this weekend with three straight first-round knockouts in the UFC. The former Dana White’s Contender Series contract winner seems to be coming into his own with sharp boxing and legitimate fight stopping power. Of his 13 career victories, 11 of them have come by knockout and seven of those came inside the first round. The concern with Maddalena is that he can be taken down and out grappled by opponents with a solid ground game.

His opponent, Randy Brown is coming off a decision victory over Francisco Trinaldo in October. He is currently on a four-fight winning streak with three straight decision wins. He is a solid striker and puts decent volume out there along with a sneaky submission grappling ability. However, he does not react well to getting hit and he is climbing an uphill battle in terms of volume and power in this matchup.

I expect this fight to play out on the feet and Maddalena is going to overwhelm Brown with powerful combinations before finding the finishing blow. Maddalena by knockout is the official pick and he is an obvious target on DraftKings.

Yair Rodriguez vs Josh Emmett
Rodriguez, -165; Emmett, +140

Yair Rodriguez is coming off the unfortunate injury of Brian Ortega during his last main event in July of last year. Rodriguez is a flashy kickboxer with a dangerous combination of power and technique. He throws in good volume and will repeatedly look for openings to land his kicking attacks. He rarely looks for takedowns and I doubt he will here either so we can expect this to be a kickboxing match for as long as it lasts.

His opponent, Josh Emmett is coming off a split-decision victory over Calvin Kattar in June. Emmett is currently on a five-fight winning streak and is continuously undervalued by the market. He is notorious for his devastating power as he is known for being one of the hardest hitters in the Featherweight division. Despite his big power, just six of his 18 career wins have come by knockout. The concern with Emmett is whether or not his body can handle another war. I am not one to predict injuries but Emmett is seemingly always dealing with some type of injury and is known for having bad knees so you have to factor that into this matchup especially with some buzz saying he may not be 100% coming into this fight.

I expect this to play out on the feet with the main thing being Emmett’s powerful right hand versus the powerful kicking attack and boxing combinations of Rodriguez. I favor Rodriguez durability and trust his ability more so at this stage in their respective careers. Rodriguez by TKO is the official pick and this is a strong target on DraftKings as well.

Islam Makhachev vs Alex Volkanovski
Makhachev, -365; Volkanovski, +300

Islam Makhachev will look to defend his Lightweight title this weekend. He captured it by defeating Charles Oliveira and submitting him in the second round in October. It is no secret that Makhachev is potentially the best grappler on the UFC roster. It is clear what the gameplan will be as he is likely going to get this fight to the ground and control his opponent on the mat like he typically does before finding a submission. On the feet, his striking is improving and I still have concerns about him in striking exchanges but I do not expect this fight to play out at range.

His opponent, Alexander Volkanovski is looking to do the unthinkable and take down Makhachev to be come a double champion. Volkanovski is a high-volume striker and has shown the ability to land takedowns when needed as well. His is nearly invincible at Featherweight but this matchup is unlike any of his previous fights. He is going to be at a size disadvantage to Makhachev and while he is the better striker, I expect him to be fighting takedowns and submission attempts repeatedly.

Volkanovski is a great fighter, but I do not think this was a good idea to take this fight. He has historically shown a great get up game but has yet to face a strong control grappler to the level of Makhachev and I expect that to be the difference here. Makhachev by submission is the official pick and this is another obvious fight to target on DraftKings.