UFC 284 | Glass Ball: What’s next for winners Makhachev, Rodriguez and Della Maddalena?
In his toughest fight to date, Islam Makhachev defeated featherweight champion Aleksandr Volkanovsky. The fighter from Dagestan successfully defended his title for the first time, winning by unanimous decision. But who will we see Makhachev face in the Octagon later this year. In principle, there are a lot of options.
UFC 284 | Makhachev defeats Volkanovsky in a battle of attrition
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The most obvious option is the match between the winner of an unconfirmed number one contender’s match between former champion Charles Oliveira and number one contender Benel Dariusz. Oliveira lost his title to Makhachev the previous October and has not returned to the Octagon since. Benel Driouch has won his last eight matches, defeating Mathieuze Jamrot at the same event in October. The fight between Oliveira and Darius is likely to happen in May. So in terms of schedule a good prospect.
The other possibility is the winner of the fight between Justin Gaethje and Rafael Fizeev, which is scheduled to take place next month in London. Gaethje lost to Charles Oliveira for the title last year, so he definitely doesn’t seem like the first choice given the matchup between Oliveira and Dariush. Vizieff, on the other hand, is rising in the division and could come into the picture as a favorite for a title fight with a win over Gaethje.
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Finally, there is also a match in the works for later this year between Michael Chandler and Conor McGregor. However, it is still not known when and when this battle will take place. At least not before August. This makes it almost impossible for Makhachev to hit either man in his next title defense.
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Of course there is a whole UFC story to the milk, looking back with the rivalry between Islam Makhachev’s team and Conor McGregor’s team. Makhachev and Chandler do not like each other at all. Chandler had seen nothing in a match against the “unknown” Makhachev two years earlier. Makhachev is a hero now and doesn’t see anything in a match against Chandler as “irrelevant”.
With an impressive victory, Yair Rodriguez finally fulfilled part of his promise. The Mexican who was seen as one of the absolute top talents from Mexico has finally landed a title shot in the UFC. It’s just a temporary address though. Rodriguez defeated Josh Emmett via submission Triangle Choke in the second round to become the second Mexican-born champion after Brandon Moreno. For Rodriguez, there is of course one really clear match.
UFC 284 | Rodriguez finished off Emmett and took the interim featherweight title
This, of course, is Alexander Volkanovsky. The undisputed featherweight champion tried his luck at lightweight last weekend, but failed. The question is whether Volkanovski will return to featherweight, and if so, for how long. The Australian looked keen to get back in the division and wanted to take on Yair Rodriguez as soon as possible. One and one equals two, of course, but in MMA it’s not always that simple.
Fighters can always get injured, and of course the question is whether there is also a backup plan. This backup plan appears to have been fought on April 15th in Kansas City. That evening, former champion Max Holloway and top contender Arnold Allen faced each other. The winner of this match takes an important step towards the title fight. However, this is especially true of Arnold Allen. Holloway has already lost three times to Aleksander Volkanovski and won’t be able to claim a new title fight soon.
Alexander Volkanovsky addresses his fans
Photo: Getty Images
Holloway beat Yair Rodriguez in 2021, however, it doesn’t seem logical that the UFC would want to schedule a rematch with the chance of Holloway beating Rodriguez again. Arnold Allen will have to beat Holloway to be the backup plan if Volkanowski can’t fight for any reason. Finally, there are still a lot of top talents in the division who can also make a splash in the future. Guys like Ilya Topuria and Movsar Ivlov are keen to make an impact in the band. However, they both still need to beat the absolute best competitor before they can also compete at the top of the division.
Jacques della Maddalena
With his fourth win in over a year, Jack Della Maddalena is one of the fastest rising talents in the UFC’s welterweight division. This time the Australian managed to finish off Randy Brown in the first round by delivering a rear naked choke. Della Maddalena’s win was her fourth consecutive first-round win. After three (T)KO wins, this was the first win for the fighter from Perth. Della Maddalena, who entered the rankings at number fourteen, has a lot of chances in the division.
UFC 284 | Statement made by Jacques della Maddalena
The Australian himself saw potential in a five-round bout against Vicente Luque. And this, in principle, would also be a very logical choice. Luque struggled for years at the top of the division, but always failed to make the final move at the last minute. The Brazilian was knocked down in a five-round bout against Bilal Mohammed last year and then was disqualified badly by Jeff Neal. As a result, Luque fell outside the top ten for the first time in a long time. For Della Maddalena, the match against Loki will be a good indication of where he is in the division. Luke’s chance to show that he’s still better than the upcoming new generation.
Vicente Luque in a match against former champion Tyron Woodley
Photo: Getty Images
Another chance for Della Maddalena is already there next month. Michelle Pereira is out of action after Sean Brady had to cancel due to injury. This earned him a spot on the UFC San Antonio card on March 25th. In terms of spectacle, he would be an absolute contender for Fight of the Night between the numbers 14 and 15 welterweight. However, the management of both fighters will not really like the match. Both Pereira and Della Maddalena are managed by MMA Manager Tim Simpson.
Finally, Neil Magny could also be an interesting match for Della Maddalena. After all, the American is a kind of “gatekeeper” in the department. If you beat Magny, you have a good chance of making it into the top 10 in the division. The American is generally very tough and loses only to the top players in the division. For Della Maddalena, it will be a test against an up-and-coming fighter in the division. Another small dog breeder in the department told me he’d have to stop.
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