UFC 284 Odds, Pick & Prediction for Islam Makhachev vs. Alexander Volkanovski: A Prop Bet for Champ vs. Champ (Saturday, February 11)

UFC 284 Odds, Pick & Prediction for Islam Makhachev vs. Alexander Volkanovski: A Prop Bet for Champ vs. Champ (Saturday, February 11) article feature image

Alex Bierens de Haan/Getty Images. Pictured: UFC featherweight champion Alexander Volkanovski of Australia

  • It's champ vs. champ in Saturday's UFC 284 pay-per-view headliner with Islam Makhachev vs. Alexander Volkanovski.
  • Makhachev is a big favorite as he puts his lightweight belt on the line against featherweight champ Volkanovski.
  • Below, Sean Zerillo explains why he's betting on a stoppage in the five-round title fight.

Islam Makhachev vs. Alexander Volkanovski Odds

Makhachev Odds
Volkanovski Odds
3.5 (-115 / -115)
RAC Arena in Perth, Australia
Midnight ET
ESPN+ Pay-per-view
Odds as of Friday and via BetMGM.

UFC lightweight gold is on the line on Saturday night in Australia as current featherweight champion and No. 1 ranked pound-for-pound fighter Alexander Volkvanovski will look to secure double-champ status when he meets current No. 2 ranked pound-for-pound fighter and lightweight champion Islam Makhachev.

Saturday's tilt (10 p.m. ET main card, ESPN+ PPV) is the second bout in UFC history between the promotion's two top-ranked pound-for-pound male fighters.

Volkanovski, a 34-year-old Austrailian, hopes to win his 13th consecutive UFC bout – and secure a second belt in his backyard – while moving one step closer to the Mount Rushmore of MMA GOATs. Still, he has almost nothing to lose by moving up in weight.

Makhchev, a 31-year-old native of Dagestan – whose level of competition on his current title run has been justifiably criticized – will face the biggest test of his career against one of his shortest opponents. Nevertheless, his run has been nothing short of dominant, and he's proven himself a worthy successor to Khabib Nurmagomedov's throne atop the 155-pound division.

Below, I'll provide my analysis and projections for the fight card finale and utilize those factors to bet on the UFC 284 main event between Islam Makhachev and Alexander Volkanovski.

Tale of the Tape

Avg. Fight Time9:0616:50
Weight (pounds)155 lbs.145 lbs.
Reach (inches)70"71"
Date of birth10/27/19919/29/1988
Sig Strikes Per Min2.376.79
SS Accuracy59%57%
SS Absorbed Per Min0.953.53
SS Defense66%60%
Take Down Avg3.421.71
TD Acc65%36%
TD Def88%73%
Submission Avg1.30.2
    While Makhachev will be the taller man in the cage, the anticipated size differential between these two champions is likely overblown.
    Volkanovski typically faces taller opponents (Holloway is 5-foot-11), but he has long arms and often carries the reach advantage in his matchups.
    He should have the speed advantage in the striking. Volkanovski's jab and lead low kick will be potent weapons to keep Makhachev at kickboxing range – and prevent him from getting easy entries to attempt takedowns.
    That's not to say that Makhachev won't compete in the striking. He has substantially improved his overall MMA game beyond his wrestling, and he outclassed Charles Oliveira on the feet.

Still, in an extended fight, I expect Volkanovski to get his reads, make his adjustments, and eventually start picking apart Makhachev in the boxing after slowing down his movement with leg and calf kicks.

That said, an extended fight would require Volkanovski to keep the fight standing or repeatedly scramble back to his feet after takedowns along the fence.

Makhachev has some of the best top pressure in the sport, and when he gets on top of opponents, it can be extremely difficult for them to recover and return to their feet. Moreover, he excels at taking the back, which could mean the end of the round – or the fight – if he secures back mount.

To date, no fighter has had the opportunity to outwork Makhachev throughout five rounds because they couldn't prolong the fight enough – or gain enough momentum – to drag their fights that late.

I expect Volkvanoski to provide more resistance than Makhachev's previous opponents. And while that still may not be enough to upend the suffocating grappler, it could lead to more opportunities for Volkvanovski to finish the fight.

I'm not particularly enamored with either fighter's durability. Volkanovski has been repeatedly knocked down or wobbled throughout his UFC career (but never knocked out) while Makhachev was flattened (albeit as a -130 favorite) in his only career loss.

While Volkanovski could outwork Makhachev over 25 minutes, it may be in his best interest to abandon his point-fighting gameplan, bite down on the mouthpiece, and aggressively pursue a finish in the pocket.

Volkanovski has a clear power advantage, and while his entering the pocket could make it easier for Makhachev to find the clinch and complete trip takedowns, playing the outside game will inevitably lead to him getting pressured against the fence and hitting the canvas anyway.

I expect to see "action fighter" Volkanovski in the octagon on Saturday night – pressing forward and hunting for a belt like a dog on a bone. Makhachev can't wrestle as proactively if you keep him on the back foot.

Still, selling out for a knockout throughout the fight will only leave opportunities for Makhachev to find dominant positions or potentially submissions – in scrambles and transitions – as Volkanovski overzealously tries to get back to the striking.

Makhachev vs. Volkanovski Pick

In this matchup, I projected Islam Makhachev as a 74.1% favorite (-281 implied).

As a result, I see Alexander Volkanovski as the value side of the moneyline. However, I would need around +318 (23.9% implied) or better to bet Volk with at least a 2% edge (projected 25.9%) compared to my number.

I would wait until closer to fight time for the best available number; the line should increase as parlay money comes in on Makhachev.

For now, bet the fight ends inside the distance (-165 at BetMGM). I projected that prop at -195 (66.1% implied) and would bet it up to around -180 (64.3% implied), just below a 2% edge.

Lastly, if you're looking to bet the favorite, I prefer Makhachev by submission (projected +125, listed +165 at DraftKings) to his moneyline.

The Pick: Fight Ends Inside the Distance (-165, Risk 1u at BetMGM) 

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