Can Yair Rodriguez give Alexander Volkanovski an actual problem?

Following one of many extra dramatic fights the game of MMA has seen, there are nonetheless loads of unanswered questions after an on the spot traditional over the weekend at UFC 284 between Islam Makhachev and Alexander Volkanovski for the UFC light-weight title and the pound-for-pound crown.

Who or what stole that present in Perth this previous weekend? What ought to we anticipate in a UFC males’s featherweight title unification bout between Volkanovski and new interim champ Yair Rodriguez? Did Rodriguez present he is able to tackle the 145-pound GOAT?

Jack Della Maddalena entered UFC 284 as a prospect on the rise and left it as one deserving of a rating and a significant battle later this yr. Can fellow rising stars Erin Blanchfield, Bo Nickal or Muhammad Mokaev comply with in Della Maddalena’s footsteps and turn into must-see TV within the subsequent few months?

Speaking of upcoming foremost occasions, how lengthy will a possible slugfest final between Jorge Masvidal and Gilbert Burns at UFC 287?

Brett Okamoto, Marc Raimondi and Jeff Wagenheim reply these questions and extra because the UFC departs Australia.

Who or what impressed you most from UFC 284?

Raimondi: Alexander Volkanovski. He did lose the principle occasion towards Islam Makhachev and I agreed with the choice, although it was an in depth battle. But I’m undecided anybody’s inventory can get a lot greater following a loss than Volkanovski’s did after Saturday. We already knew he was an awesome champion at featherweight. Then, he went toe-to-toe with the larger Makhachev, practically nullified his wrestling the entire approach, dropped him within the fifth spherical and completed the bout touchdown ground-and-pound from high place. Makhachev is elite and confirmed it. But Volkanovski’s efficiency as a +310 underdog was downright inspiring. The man is a a lot larger star in the present day than he was per week in the past.

Okamoto: Volkanovski turning the principle occasion right into a nail-biter must be essentially the most spectacular factor. It’s a straightforward one to reply in that regard. I do need to present like to Makhachev’s putting, although. I do know Makhachev has been trying ahead to the day he would present that he is not only a wrestler, and it is cool that day occurred to be towards the earlier No. 1 pound-for-pound fighter on this planet. Wrestling didn’t win Makhachev that battle. His putting did. And who on this planet noticed that coming? You’re telling me that along with the dominant wrestling sport of Makhachev, he can stand with a man like Volkanovski and are available away a winner? That’s scary.

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Wagenheim: The “what” that impressed was the gang in Perth, Western Australia, which introduced big-night power befitting a monumental champ-vs.-champ battle. And the “who” was Makhachev, the winner of that superfight. He had zero folks rooting for him towards Volkanovski, an Australian, at RAC Arena, and he appeared to relish the problem of acting on his opponent’s raucous residence turf. On high of that, Makhachev enhanced his work-in-progress legacy by displaying a willingness to veer from his dominant floor sport and get issues performed in a bout contested largely in stand-up combating.

What share probability do you give Rodriguez to beat Volkanovski in a unification bout?



Yair Rodriguez wins UFC interim featherweight belt

Yair Rodriguez units up a title shot alternative vs. Alexander Volkanovski by defeating Josh Emmett to win the interim featherweight title.

Wagenheim: Nine p.c. I am unable to give any featherweight a double-digit probability to knock off Volkanovski after watching how the champ dealt with Max Holloway thrice and beat his predecessor as 145-pound GOAT, Jose Aldo. On high of that, Volkanovski gave Makhachev the hardest battle of his profession over the weekend. Rodriguez was dazzling at UFC 284 as effectively, however Josh Emmett isn’t Makhachev.

Okamoto: I’m guessing Volkanovski opens a betting favourite of minus-290. We’ll see how I do. Those are implied odds of about 75%. What probability do I give Rodriguez? I give him one. Right now, once you’re speaking about Volkanovski as one of many biggest and most expert fighters of all time, merely giving a challenger an opportunity means one thing. I really like Rodriguez’s confidence. He has ending capability, which is vital should you’re speaking about somebody pulling off an upset.

Raimondi: Rodriguez is extremely harmful and artistic, able to ending anybody with varied weapons. Add a triangle choke from the underside to that listing after his win over Emmett. But Volkanovski is completely different, which he confirmed Saturday. He ought to be a heavy favourite towards Rodriguez.

What is your favourite upcoming foremost occasion?



Paris crowd goes wild after Ciryl Gane’s KO victory

Ciryl Gane takes residence a KO victory over Tai Tuivasa in entrance of the raucous Parisian crowd.

Raimondi: Jon Jones, the best fighter now we have ever seen, has not fought in additional than three years. How can his huge return battle towards Ciryl Gane not be my favourite? It’s not simply the layoff, both. Jones has by no means fought at heavyweight earlier than and now he is going through Gane for the vacant UFC heavyweight title. Jones can turn into a two-division champion and make historical past once more with a win. He has 14 wins and no losses in UFC title fights, which is a ridiculous statistic. Gane, in the meantime, can turn into the face of the division with Francis Ngannou departing, if he beats Jones.

Okamoto: Jones vs. Gane. This is the plain reply, however my disappointment in not seeing Jones vs. Ngannou is actual. I wished to see that battle greater than every other battle this yr. It topped my listing of the 12 bouts we need to see in 2023. But excellent news: Jones vs. Gane was No. 5. Jones is arguably the best fighter of all time, however coming off the layoff towards a contemporary breed of heavyweight, who’s fast and athletic. Plenty of inquiries to reply going into this one.

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Wagenheim: It’s Jones vs. Gane. But since Marc and Brett already waxed poetic on that one, permit me to suppose exterior the field by praising a non-main occasion. I’m all the time down to observe Justin Gaethje throw leather-based, and his March 18 assembly with Rafael Fiziev may steal the present from that night time’s title battle headliner, Leon Edwards vs. Kamaru Usman 3. Go forward and write out the battle of the night time bonus checks now, UFC.

Real or not: Jon Jones deserves to be the favourite towards Ciryl Gane?

According to Caesars Sportsbook, Jones is presently a -155 favourite.

Wagenheim: Real, so far as I do know. I hedged my reply as a result of Jones, glowing resume and all, has not fought in three years. That he is by no means competed at heavyweight can also be a priority, but when this had been an energetic Jones, I’d nonetheless favor him over any heavyweight apart from Ngannou (keep in mind him?). An inactive “Bones,” although? It’s unsettling to gaze right into a hazy crystal ball, however the one picture I could make out is Jones dressed up as a GOAT. I consider he’ll shake off any rust and do what he all the time does: win.

Okamoto: Not actual. Jones’s earlier physique of labor does not imply he ought to be blindly put in as a favourite till he loses. His previous couple of title defenses at gentle heavyweight weren’t as dominant as we might grown accustomed to, and now he is coming into utterly new circumstances. Gane began off because the betting favourite for a motive, and bookmakers made the correct name there. Do I doubt Jones’ capability to win this battle? No. But I’m not stunned he did not open as the favourite.

Raimondi: Jones has by no means really misplaced a battle in his profession, one thing that just about nobody within the historical past of MMA can boast. So, why would not he be the favourite? If Jones was the underdog, which means the expectation could be him dropping, one thing no person has ever seen. Sure, he did not have his greatest outing approach again in February 2020 towards Dominick Reyes, however this can be a utterly completely different Jones who has had greater than sufficient time to acclimate to a brand new weight class. Gane additionally simply acquired outwrestled and out-grappled in January 2022 by Ngannou, who does not have practically the wrestling chops of Jones.

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The prospect you are most focused on seeing battle subsequent is __________?



Erin Blanchfield brushes shoulders after tapping out Molly McCann

Erin Blanchfield stuns the Madison Square Garden crowd by forcing Molly McCann to faucet out.

Okamoto: Maybe he is too established to be thought-about a “prospect,” however I’m excited to see Adrian Yanez battle Rob Font at UFC 287 April 8 in Miami. Yanez’s energy is an actual drawback in any matchup. Font was an unsung hero for some time. He flew underneath the radar as one of many division’s most technically sound and underrated contenders, however the secret is out now. Everyone is aware of Font is an elite bantamweight, who has come up brief towards solely the perfect of the burden class (particularly currently). This is a big check for Yanez and an action-packed matchup.

Raimondi: Bo Nickal is without doubt one of the greatest prospects in MMA historical past. Muhammad Mokaev is probably a future UFC flyweight champion. But Erin Blanchfield, 23, is nearer to the belt than both of these fighters. Plus, she’s in a foremost occasion battle towards Jessica Andrade on Saturday, an vital, high-profile bout. Andrade is the previous UFC strawweight champion and a very good flyweight as well, with wins over high contenders at 125 kilos. Valentina Shevchenko may use some new blood within the challenger nook. Blanchfield is bettering with each battle and has maybe the perfect Brazilian jiu-jitsu that Shevchenko has encountered. Andrade vs. Blanchfield shall be fascinating.

Wagenheim: There are a number of on the schedule to keep watch over, and on the high of my listing is Blanchfield, who faces an unimaginable step-up in competitors towards Andrade subsequent weekend. But since Blanchfield has already been cited right here, I’ll point out Nickal, the three-time NCAA Division I nationwide champion wrestler who makes his UFC debut March 4 towards Jamie Pickett. Nickal, one among MMA’s most hyped prospects, has three professional bouts underneath his belt. Is he prepared for the large present?

BONUS: Over/Under 1.5 rounds for Masvidal vs. Burns

Raimondi: Over. Both guys are extremely robust. Masvidal went 5 rounds in his first battle with Kamaru Usman and his bout with Colby Covington. Burns went the space with Khamzat Chimaev, which nobody else has been capable of do.

Wagenheim: Over. Masvidal has all the time been sturdy, from bare-knuckle brawls in Miami backyards to Octagon tussles with the 170-pound creme de la creme. I feel that is Burns’ battle, however he will must put in an evening’s work to get his hand raised.

Okamoto: Over. Two veterans who know easy methods to tempo a battle. This shall be a little bit of a dance, so I do not anticipate a fast end. I anticipate mutual respect — aggression, however calculated aggression.