Betting Guide for UFC 284

Australia's Jimmy Crute returns to the octagon at home in Perth this weekend. What's the best way to back him on Saturday, and which other wagers are showing value?

I should be more hyped for a battle of the two bests pound-for-pound fighters in UFC, but the problem is how they'll matchup at lightweight on Saturday. We've got a gigantic interim featherweight belt that's also just a race to fight the projected loser in that one. The rest of the card is pretty impressive, though.

UFC 284: Makhachev vs. Volkanovski will take place at the RAC Arena in Perth, Australia. Which MMA bets stand out on FanDuel Sportsbook?

Two-Leg Parlay

YTD: 1-2 (-1.9 units)

House rules at FanDuel Sportsbook voided just the Ji Yeon Kim leg of last week's two-legger after her opponent pulled out to cancel the bout. Junyong Park still won, which led to a 1.1-unit return on the two-unit bet. Hey, at least we saw some green on the board in 2023.

Here's this week's lay.

Tyson Pedro and Jimmy Crute to Both Win
(+103; 1.5 Units)

I'd be doing everyone a disservice to not take a couple of Aussies to win in Perth.

Tyson Pedro (-280) and Jimmy Crute (-200) are both light heavyweights, too. They may meet one day, but they've both got favorable matchups on Saturday should they avoid the obvious power risk at 205 pounds.

Pedro's return to the UFC following a long injury layoff couldn't have gone better with two back-to-back first-round finishes. His next draw is Modestas Bukauskas, the one-dimensional striker who is back for a second cup of coffee with UFC.

The first one didn't go well. He lost three of his four bouts with the lone exception over Andreas Michalidis (1-3 UFC). Only being able to strike with a -0.95 striking success rate (SSR) isn't ideal. Not only is Pedro a more reliable bet there (+0.60 SSR), but I wouldn't be shocked if Pedro's grappling returned on Saturday, either. He's got two promotional wins via submission, and Bukauskas hasn't spent a second on a UFC mat wrestling.

As for Crute, he'll draw the more dangerous Alonzo "Atomic" Menifield. With four of his six UFC wins via knockout, the one-shot power is a much larger concern, and Crute was just knocked out by the 205-pound champion, Jamahal Hill.

Still, Crute's still just absorbed 2.76 significant strikes per minute. He's limited damage as a whole to get to his lethal wrestling, averaging 4.87 takedowns per 15 minutes with tremendous 75% accuracy. Menifield has been taken down by non-ranked opponents like Devin Clark and William Knight as is.

If the two-legger loses this week, it'll be to a seminal blow. That's a risk with the big guys, but the clear, well-rounded skill edge goes to this pair of Australians.

Straight Bets

Islam Makhachev by KO/TKO/Submission
(-125; 1.25 Units)

Alexander Volkanovski, for my money, is the best fighter in UFC. He should also lose handily this Saturday.

At 5'6" tall, Volkanovski is on the short side for a modern featherweight, but now he's moving up 10 pounds further to face Islam Makhachev (-400). I just can't see it ending well.

If a featherweight had Makhachev's same skillset, we'd be talking. Volk's 73% takedown defense is strong, but it's notably not perfect. Both Brian Ortega and Chad Mendes had some success in that area. That's at 145, though.

Makhachev has ragdolled fighters his own size. He averages 3.62 takedowns per 15 minutes with high-level accuracy (65%). But, as Charles Oliveira learned, that's not the only issue. He's also got an excellent +1.42 SSR, 65% striking defense, and keeps getting better at range.

As this fight wears on, it should benefit Volkanovski. That's why, if I'm wrong and Volkanovski's strength for his small frame is superhuman, I don't want to lay a -400 price with Islam Makhachev's moneyline. If Islam is indeed just simply stronger than Volk, this one could -- and should -- be over quickly.

Parker Porter to Win (+100; 1.0 Unit)

Justin Tafa's resume is one of the worst I've seen for a UFC favorite over a fighter with a winning record.

Tafa is 2-3 in UFC himself, but the pair of wins also came against fighters otherwise 1-6 in the octagon. He's fallen short each time he's faced a multi-time UFC winner. With a 3-2 record inside the promotion, Parker Porter (+100) is that.

Porter's portly frame and lack of power (0 knockdowns in 335 significant strikes) make him a tricky heavyweight to handicap, but he's usually undervalued as a result. Landing 6.49 significant strikes per minute on 49% accuracy, we've seen his pace and pressure overwhelm guys.

In his interviews, Porter's very analytical and cerebral. In this dumb-guy sport, his legitimate formulation of strategy and use of analytics is something that I can -- refreshingly -- get behind.

Tafa's five opponents so far have landed a combined two UFC takedowns. Porter has five himself. I'm confident he'll find the right approach striking or wrestling to defeat the favorite with little high-level experience.

Dart Throws of the Week

Josh Emmett by Decision (+340; 0.5 Units)

Saturday's best fight with stakes attached to it is the interim featherweight bout, and the winner is next for Volkanovski in all likelihood.

I think Josh Emmett (+152) is a deserved underdog, but he's likely a bit undervalued at his number. Yair Rodriguez has had -- at the very least -- a close fight or loss in each of his past five, and he's only fought twice total since the COVID break. The idea he blows up Emmett is farfetched.

Emmett's biggest issue is that his prior knee injury appears to have sapped his power. He had a 2.21% knockdown rate before the injury, and it's been just 0.60% since. He's also fought tougher competition, though. Still, Emmett's package -- including a 63% striking defense -- is a sturdy one.

Personally, this fight comes down to Emmett's willingness to wrestle. He's landed 1.04 takedowns per 15 minutes with solid 40% accuracy, and Yair's 62% takedown defense is pedestrian. This is a bet that Emmett does find that right combination, but without just one career submission attempt, I don't think he can close the show on the mat.

Francisco Prado by Submission (+900; 0.25 Units)

You're betting debutants and prospects if you want a feasible underdog on this card, and it's a bit interesting that Francisco Prado (+215) is just a moderate underdog to three-time UFC winner Jamie Mullarkey on short notice.

Outside of one knockout against a former featherweight, Mullarkey just hasn't instilled much fear into his opponents. With just a 43% striking accuracy and 30% takedown accuracy, Mullarkey is often forced to use his work rate to make up for a lack of skill.

At just 20 years old, Prado's UFC debut is probably a bit premature in this space, but the Argentinian was well on his way to getting this call at some point. His 11-0 record has come via six knockouts and five submissions.

That latter part is interesting given that Australia's Mullarkey is a wrestler. He attempts 8.43 takedowns per 15 minutes but has -- at times -- resigned to a striking match when it hasn't worked. Mullarkey has just one empty submission attempt with UFC and three wins regionally. Prado, as mentioned, already has five.

This is a tiny dart the newcomer is the more sophisticated grappler and finds an opening on the veteran.