UFC 284 Picks, Projections: Our Best Bets for Della Maddalena vs. Brown, Tafa vs. Porter, More (Saturday, February 11)

UFC 284 Picks, Projections: Our Best Bets for Della Maddalena vs. Brown, Tafa vs. Porter, More (Saturday, February 11) article feature image

Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC. Pictured: UFC lightweight Jamie Mullarkey of Australia

  • Our MMA crew has thoroughly prepped for Saturday night's UFC 284 pay-per-view event.
  • The card kicks off at 6 p.m. ET on ESPN+ and features 13 fights.
  • Below, we share our best bets for the card, including plays for the prelims and the main card.

The UFC heads Down Under on Saturday, and we've got a number of UFC 284 Best Bets from our MMA crew.

UFC 284: Makhachev vs. Volkanovski, which features two title fights, takes place Sunday in Perth, Australia. However, it airs in its usual Saturday-night timeslot in North America due to the time difference.

UFC 284 features early prelims (6 p.m. ET, ESPN+), regular prelims (8 p.m. ET, ESPN and ESPN+) and a five-fight main card (10 p.m. ET, ESPN+ pay-per-view).

So where should you be looking to place your bets? Our crew has pinpointed four fights and picks on Saturday’s stacked card that present betting value.

You can find their analysis and picks on those matches plus Sean Zerillo's projections below using odds from BetMGM.

Moneyline Projections

Prop Projections

Dann Stupp: Jamie Mullarkey vs. Francisco Prado

Senior Editor at The Action Network

Fighter walkouts: Approx. 7:55 p.m. ET

The basis of my pick comes down to this: I can't possibly expect a 20-year-old UFC newcomer to show the needed composure and cardio to last three full rounds in his octagon debut against a proven finisher.

Not when that newcomer has been out of the first round just three times in 11 pro fights.

Not when more than half of those opponents had losing records or no records at all.

And not when that newcomer is facing a local fighter on a major pay-per-view in a fight-crazed country like Australia that will give him anything but a warm welcome.

Yet, that's the situation that Argentinian fighter Francisco Prado (11-0) faces when he meets fellow lightweight Jamie Mullarkey (15-5) in a UFC 284 preliminary-card bout.

Mullarkey is on a 3-1 run, and he's picked up 13 stoppages in 15 career wins. The -275 favorite has both the recent confidence and the finishing ability to make this a short night for a UFC debutant.

But let's say I'm completely wrong and Prado comes out firing on all cylinders in that opening round. Prado's clearly got some power and finishing ability of his own, and Mullarkey has proven more than hittable throughout his career – with three knockout losses in five career defeats.

Mullarkey, though, showed solid durability before those eventual losses, so even if he survives a lopsided first round against Prado, he should have enough left in the tank and can offer enough to force a stoppage in the later rounds.

WHAT. A. COMEBACK 😳 @jamie_mullarkey melted him at #UFCVegas38pic.twitter.com/T0Y43hcz4w

— ESPN MMA (@espnmma) October 2, 2021

That's why I like this fight to end inside the distance, and depending on your book, you could play this a few different ways.

If you go the "doesn't go to decision" route, bet365 has a solid -175 offering (Betway also has it at a playable -187). And for under 2.5 rounds, I like WynnBET, which is offering it at -135 (DraftKings, for example, has the same price for under 2.0 rounds, i.e. "doesn't start Round 3").

Ultimately, for my official best bet, I'll take that great u2.5 line and hope for fireworks either way on Saturday night.

The Pick: Jamie Mullarkey vs. Francisco Prado under 2.5 rounds (-135 at WynnBET) | Play to -175

Billy Ward: Joshua Culibao vs. Melsik Baghdasaryan

Staff Writer at The Action Network

Fighter walkouts: Approx. 8:55 p.m. ET

This line has fluctuated throughout the week, with both Melsik Baghdasaryan and Josh Culibao slightly favored at times.

However, I think Baghdasaryan should be the rightful favorite here.

First off, Culibao’s record is probably a bit inflated. I wrote about him as being overvalued in my MMA Luck Rankings column earlier this week, and I’m standing by it. Culibao has never finished a UFC fight, nor has he won 30-27 on any judges' scorecards.

Baghdasaryan has two UFC wins: a knockout victory and a relatively dominant (though he faded late) decision. While he’s fought a slightly lower level of competition than Culibao, it’s not like Culibao has been fighting top-ranked featherweights either.

This should be a pure standup fight, with neither man having landed a takedown in his UFC career.

However, Baghdasaryan is the far more credentialed striker.

Head kick KO in your UFC debut? ✅ #UFCVegas33pic.twitter.com/v6CbfZ75GV

— UFC (@ufc) August 1, 2021

He has experience in K-1 kickboxing, as well as a professional boxing background.

Baghdasaryan is also the more active striker, landing at nearly double the clip of Culibao. That should play well to the judges if they get involved, as should his heavier shots. With damage being the most important criterion for judges, I prefer betting on the fighter with knockout power.

The Pick: Melsik Baghdasaryan (-105 at BetMGM)

Sean Zerillo: Justin Tafa vs. Parker Porter

Senior Writer at The Action Network

Fighter walkouts: Approx. 10:25 p.m. ET

I discussed Parker Porter as my best bet on our UFC 284 episode of Action Network Podcast.

I projected Porter as a -120 favorite and would bet his moneyline up to -111 prefight. Additionally, add more on his side live after Round 1.

Getting plus-money prefight is an easy investment.

Aside from pure power and early finishing upside, Porter possesses almost all the advantages in the fight against fellow heavyweight Justin Tafa. He has more striking volume, better cardio, and all the grappling upside.

Moreover, once you tire out Tafa, his power tends to drop dramatically, unlike some heavyweights who carry their power through fatigue. As a result, Porter may be out of danger here if he can survive the first few minutes and try to tire out Tafa as quickly as possible.

Unless Tafa scores multiple knockdowns, it's difficult to envision Porter losing a decision; the volume discrepancy should be massive over the final 10 minutes.

And if Porter gets a takedown in any round, that could be enough to secure the round in his favor – if not finish the fight.

There's a distinct possibility that Tafa can't recover after a takedown at any point – and gets finished – or that he is overwhelmed for an attritional-based stoppage in the third round.

The Pick: Parker Porter (+110 at DraftKings) | Live after Round 1

Tony Sartori: Jack Della Maddalena vs. Randy Brown

Contributor at The Action Network

Fighter walkouts: Approx. 10:55 p.m. ET

Prior to the two title fights on the UFC 284 main card, we get a fascinating welterweight bout between Jack Della Maddalena and Randy Brown. It has been quite a journey for Maddalena, a Perth native who gets to fight in front of his home city.

To begin his professional career, he lost his first two fights. How has he responded?

By rattling off 13 straight victories, a whopping 11 of which are via knockout. More impressively, Maddalena is 4-0 since joining the UFC and enters this scrap following three straight first-round knockout victories.

An absolute assassin on the feet, he avoids grappling and prefers to stand and bang. Across his four UFC scraps, Maddalena averages 8.45 strikes landed per minute at a clinical 50% accuracy.

Not only does Maddalena throw in bunches at high accuracy, but he has serious pop in both his jabs and hooks.

The stand up game from Jack Della Maddalena is something else 🔥🔥🔥

He fights in front of his home crowd in Perth at #UFC284 this weekend! pic.twitter.com/hpx10B4jrG

— UFC_AUSNZ (@UFC_AUSNZ) February 6, 2023

If you have a susceptible chin, then odds are you will be in trouble against Maddalena, which is a problem for UFC 284 opponent Brown.

Brown's last two losses were via knockout, and it would not be surprising if he gets caught by the red-hot Maddalena. The story of Brown's career is "good but not good enough."

He typically beats the guys he is supposed to but does not take out the bigger names, evidenced by the fact that he is 7-1 as a betting favorite but just 3-3 as the underdog. Brown typically prefers to strike, though it would not be shocking if he tries to bring this fight to the mat to avoid Maddalena's power.

With that said, Brown has not landed a single takedown in any of his last four fights, and if this scrap stays on the feet, it should be a short night for him. I got this number earlier this week at -106, though it has since moved to -110, and I would still play it up to -125.

Pick: Jack Della Maddalena via KO/TKO/DQ (-110)

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