UFC 284 prelims preview: Pedro tops the cast from Down Under

The televised prelims of UFC 284 have a decidedly Australian flavor. No surprise given the event is taking place in Australia. Fortunately, the country…

By: Dayne Fox | 4 months ago
UFC 284 prelims preview: Pedro tops the cast from Down Under
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The televised prelims of UFC 284 have a decidedly Australian flavor. No surprise given the event is taking place in Australia. Fortunately, the country of Australia has proven itself to be a hotbed for talent as of late. Hell, prior to Israel Adesanya dropping his title to Alex Pereira, they had more champions claiming residence than the USA did. Granted, some of Australia’s best talent – Robert Whittaker and Kai Kara-France — were unable to appear on the card for various reasons. While that hurts the quality of the card, the Aussies have developed reputations for being some of the best coached fighters on the roster. Throw in they’ve always been some of the scrappiest fighters and it isn’t hard to see the reason for the emergence of Australia as a force to be reckoned with.

Unfortunately for Australia, if two or three of their top fighters pull out, that’s going to kill just about all their depth. While I like these prelim fights from a competitive standpoint, they have the look of a bunch of run of the mill fighters being thrown together from a casual perspective. If I’m being realistic as opposed to positive, I have to say they aren’t too far off the mark. None of the Aussies on the prelims look like they’re going to become contenders, despite the appearance they should all be in the first half of their UFC career. Regardless, even with several fighters pulling out, the UFC has done reasonably well to put together some fun scraps.

For the early prelims preview, click here.

  • Tyson Pedro was on the sidelines for over three years recovering from a variety of ailments. Since coming back, he’s looked like a million bucks, disposing of each of his opponents within the first round. There is a huge caveat in that the UFC has been keeping the training wheels on Pedro through those first few fights, pitting him against opponents who were lucky enough to be on the roster. It does look like he’s getting a step up this time around, but there’s an asterisk on Modestas Bukauskas as well. The Lithuanian is returning to the UFC after washing out on a three-fight losing streak in 2021. Even worse, he missed over a year from a serious knee injury before coming back late this past fall. Bukauskas has looked solid since recovering from the injury, but he’s also been facing questionable competition himself. Bukauskas utilizes a lot of lateral movement from the outside, possessing the lanky frame to make the most of his unique style. Pedro appears to have put in some good work on his own striking, showing the time away wasn’t just spent on rehab. However, we again have to consider his level of competition. In a pure striking battle, I’d favor Bukauskas. I’m inclined to go with Pedro based on his mat abilities, but his wrestling hasn’t matched his grappling and Bukauskas’ takedown defense has been better than advertised. Then again, Bukauskas is fighting for the third time in about three months. Cutting weight so often usually leads to reduced returns. I don’t have a lot of confidence, but I’m picking Pedro to get it done. Pedro via decision
  • Y’all remember Melsik Baghdasaryan? Despite coming out of the Glendale Fight Club – Ronda Rousey’s old gym – the Armenian looked like a prospect with a lot of promise. While the striking coaching at Glendale is questionable, there’s no doubting he can learn a thing or two about mat fighting, something the former kickboxer could use. Unfortunately, after two promising UFC appearances, Baghdasaryan hasn’t been seen in over a year due to various ailments. He’s getting his toughest challenge yet in Josh Culibao. Due to his limited physical skills, most overlooked Culibao when he came into the UFC. Proving to be one of the scrappiest members of the roster, Culibao has avoided losing since dropping his UFC debut. Culibao’s fight IQ has made all the difference, identifying holes in his opponents and attacking them. What I haven’t seen out of Culibao is the ability to get the fight to the mat. That’s worrisome as it’s hard not to favor Baghdasaryan if the fight stays standing. It wouldn’t be a huge shocker to see Culibao pull that out of his back pocket. Unfortunately, going off what I do know, I have to favor Baghdasaryan’s tight and taught kickboxing to outpoint the Aussie, provided he doesn’t finish him. Baghdasaryan via TKO of RD3
  • At first glance, it would appear Uncle Dana was treating Australian flyweight Shannon Ross as a charity case. The Aussie engaged in a hell of a slugfest with Vinicius Salvador on DWCS, only to be starched in the second round. And yet, Ross earned a contract, becoming the first DWCS competitor to earn a contract despite being finished. However, when one discovers Ross put on the performance he did while suffering through a case of appendicitis, it doesn’t seem so much like a charity case anymore. No one will ever question his heart and toughness after that. His skill level is another thing altogether. Ross has more than his share of losses, showing poor defense with a hard ceiling on his athleticism. Kleydson Rodrigues has his own issues with defense, but not so much with his physical gifts. The Brazilian has everything you’d want on paper out of a top flyweight talent. What cost him in his UFC debut was questionable energy management and an inability to get off his back. In a straight-up striking battle, Rodrigues has the dynamism and power to win that battle. Ross isn’t a bad wrestler, but I’m not sure he’s willing to commit to that aspect enough to secure the win. I see this being very close, but I’ll go with the youngster who appears to be entering his prime over the 33-year-old vet who very well may have already seen his come and go. Rodrigues via decision
  • It should be noted the UFC attempted to pit Jamie Mullarkey against an established UFC talent. Unfortunately for the fanbase, Nasrat Haqparast suffered an injury and was forced to withdraw, leaving the UFC scrambling to find a replacement. Thus, 20-year-old Argentinian Francisco Prado is going into hostile territory against a fan favorite. That’s a stiff task for an experienced veteran, let alone someone as young as Prado. To be fair to Prado, he’s been brought up the right way. The powerful athlete crushed some cans to open his career before transitioning to experienced veterans and fellow top prospects on his scene… but his scene was Argentina and he’s been a professional for less than four years. To his credit, Prado is easily the superior athlete to Mullarkey and has no shortage of confidence. But I would have much rather seen him in DWCS or facing a DWCS debutant in his own debut rather than getting a stiff test like Mullarkey. Mullarkey isn’t elite in any area and is a middling athlete at best. That said, Mullarkey doesn’t have stamina issues, is tough to put away, and is skilled enough in all areas hold his own. Most importantly, he never stops bringing it. Prado has never gone the distance, leaving open the question of his ability to go the distance. Prado probably has the brighter future – provided he finds a gym to magnify his talents – but this seems like too much, too soon. It won’t be a huge shock if he blasts Mullarkey early, but Mullarkey has been in the cage with the likes of Alexander Volkanovski and Jalin Turner. He should be ready for what Prado has to offer. Mullarkey via TKO of RD3
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About the author
Dayne Fox
Dayne Fox

Dayne Fox is a contributing writer and analyst for Bloody Elbow. He has been writing about combat sports since 2013 and a member of Bloody Elbow since 2016. Dayne primarily contributes opinion pieces and event coverage. Dayne’s specialties are putting together the preview articles for all the UFC events and post-fight analysis. Outside of writing on combat sports, Dayne works in the purchasing department of a construction company, formerly working as an analyst. He is also a proud husband and father. In what spare time he can find, he enjoys strategy games and is a movie enthusiast. He is based in Utah.

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