UFC 284 staff picks and predictions: Will Jack Della Maddalena avoid the BE curse?

We’ve got a big fight card down under this weekend with two UFC titles on the line. Islam Makhachev will be hoping to make…

By: Tim Bissell | 8 months ago
UFC 284 staff picks and predictions: Will Jack Della Maddalena avoid the BE curse?
Bloody Elbow 2.0 | Anton Tabuena

We’ve got a big fight card down under this weekend with two UFC titles on the line. Islam Makhachev will be hoping to make his first UFC lightweight title defence, whereas Alexander Volkanovski will be looking to join the select few to ever hold belts in multiple divisions. There’s also Yair Rodriguez vs. Josh Emmett for the vacant interim UFC featherweight title. But in addition to those fights there’s a pretty great undercard, too, with some exciting talents and match-ups that could lead to fireworks.

As a staff we’ve looked over all the fights and entered our selections. In this post I’ll be sharing our opinions on all the bouts, but the main and co-main. Those huge fights deserve their own posts and you can find them here.

When it comes to the last fight before the championship bouts, we are completely behind Jack Della Maddalena and expect him to score another impressive win to pad his candidacy as one-to-watch in the welterweight division. Now, sometimes when we all pick the same fighter they lose, giving rise to the idea of a ‘BE curse’ around these parts. So we will have to see if the MMA Gods are kind to us, and Della Maddalena, come fight night.

You can see the rest of our picks below. Please add yours in the comments, too!

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Randy Brown vs. Jack Della Maddalena

Zane Simon: I won’t be surprised at all if Randy Brown just clean KO’s JDM early in this fight. It feels like a thing that’s bound to happen to the Aussie sooner or later, given his love of fast starts, pocket offense, and taking punches directly on the noggin. Brown definitely has the size and the dynamic athleticism to do it too. A reactive step knee timed just right, a serious uppercut? It COULD happen. The thing is, Brown loves to take pictures. He loves to create on the fly and seems to value the potential artistry of his craft a lot more than just creating dominant, winning performances. JDM doesn’t afford that kind of fight. He’s all about relentless pressure and volume and creating offense that specifically takes advantage of those moments when opponents expect to have a break and reset. Jack Della Maddalena via TKO, round 1.

Tim Bissell: I’m feeling pretty all in on Della Maddalena at this point. Not only is he extremely exciting, but he’s also getting wins. So I think he’s a problem for the division and I don’t see Brown having the evasiveness, or chin, to solve it. Brown is on a nice win streak, but Della Maddalena really appears to be coming into his own right now and, given the occasion, I don’t see his rise coming to a halt on this night. Jack Della Maddalena by TKO.

Staff picking Brown:
Staff picking Maddalena: Eddie, Lucas, Chris, Kristen, Dayne, Stephie, Zane, Anton, Bissell

Justin Tafa vs. Parker Porter

Zane Simon: As a technical fighter, Parker Porter is just better. He uses his jab more, he creates more combinations, he works more targets. He even wrestles more. As an athlete, though, he neither has the extreme durability, nor the extreme power that’s the real demarcation of a heavyweight fighter. If Tafa can’t get the finish, I’d expect Porter to win on points. But Tafa seems like he has a lot of potential to develop well as long as he’s still training hard, and he’s got real fight changing KO ability. Justin Tafa via KO, round 1.

Tim Bissell: I think Porter has shown a more well rounded game and that should be enough to get past Tafa. Tafa is certainly a KO threat, but not one of the most deadliest in the division and not enough to get Parker out of there in an instance once he realizes he can’t win against the fence or on the ground with him. I also doubt Tafa will have the stamina to end the fight after a round of clinching and wrestling with Porter (who should realize he has the advantage there and look to seize upon it). Parker Porter by decision.

Staff picking Tafa: Lucas, Chris, Kristen, Stephie, Zane, Anton
Staff picking Porter: Eddie, Dayne, Bissell

Jimmy Crute vs. Alonzo Menifield

Zane Simon: Menifield absolutely has the athleticism to hang with Crute and potentially win out in the kind of wildly chaotic scrap that the ‘Brute’ loves to take part in. But, the technical craft, especially on the ground, still seems lacking—and most importantly, the confidence is entirely missing. Opponents that bring a hard fight to Menifield often find him shrinking away from exchanges, rather than punishing them. If Crute can keep from getting sparked in his first couple wild blitzes, he’ll likely be able to make Menifield crumble over time. Jimmy Crute via submission, round 2.

Tim Bissell: I think there will be some wild exchanges in this one and that Menifield’s reach might be the difference maker there. So I’m giving him the slight edge in a fight I think will end in the middle of the cage with one guy just beating the other to the punch. Alonzo Menifield by KO.

Staff picking Crute: Eddie, Dayne, Zane, Anton
Staff picking Menifield: Lucas, Chris, Kristen, Stephie, Bissell

Tyson Pedro vs. Modestas Bukauskas

Zane Simon: Do I trust Pedro to be the better, more fluid, more aggressive fighter that he looks like he can be? His only wins in the past 5 years are against Ike Villanueva and Harry Hunsucker. Say what you will for Bukauskas, but he’s a big step up athletically and technically from both those men. For a man plagued with past poor fight IQ decision making like Pedro has been, his recent wins don’t actually answer the kind of questions his losses have asked. At the same time, as a somewhat awkward, low-paced striker, who depends on his own feints and size to keep guys from just out-hustling him, it’s no surprise that Bukauskas found the UFC hard going last time around. And his only wins since are to guys worse than Ike Villanueva and Harry Hunsucker. I’ll take Tyson Pedro here, just because I think his feints can freeze Bukauskas up even more than normal, but both men have more questions to answer than ask right now. Tyson Pedro via decision.

Staff picking Pedro: Eddie, Lucas, Kristen, Dayne, Stephie, Zane, Anton, Bissell
Staff picking Bukauskus: Chris

Joshua Culibao vs. Melsik Baghdasaryan

Anton Tabuena: I swear I didn’t just pick him because he’s Filipino. Joshua Culibao by TKO.

Zane Simon: Baghdasaryan is the faster, more dynamic fighter and probably the more powerful athlete, but Culibao is a far better game-planner. Given how much the technical aspects of Baghdasaryan’s game seem limited to his kicking output, I’ll take Culibao to solve that puzzle and get the win. Joshua Culibao by decision.

Staff picking Culibao: Eddie, Lucas, Zane, Anton
Staff picking Baghdasaryan: Chris, Kristen, Dayne, Stephie, Bissell

Kleydson Rodrigues vs. Shannon Ross

Zane Simon: Kleydson Rodrigues has the potential to be a top 5 flyweight in my opinion. He’s powerful, he’s technical, he’s dynamic as hell, and he’s got great creativity. What he doesn’t have is seasoning, pace, or aggression. That’s going to make capitalizing on his potential very difficult in the UFC, where there are plenty of lesser athletes who have much better ideas of how to win fights. Is Ross one of those? I’m not sure. He’s definitely more aggressive and higher paced, but he seems worryingly hurt-able for a flyweight, and he’s not exactly a technician anywhere. I’ll take Kleydson Rodrigues via TKO, round 3, but it’d be great to see him handle this fight with more ease than I expect.

Staff picking Rodrigues: Eddie, Lucas, Chris, Kristen, Dayne, Stephie, Zane, Anton, Bissell
Staff picking Ross:

Jamie Mullarkey vs. Francisco Prado

Zane Simon: I know he’s a last minute fill-in, but Prado really shouldn’t be here at this point in his career. Jamie Mullarkey via submission, round 1.

Staff picking Mullarkey: Eddie, Chris, Kristen, Dayne, Stephie, Zane, Anton, Bissell
Staff picking Prado: Lucas

Jack Jenkins vs. Don Shainis

Zane Simon: Jenkins may be almost entirely lost in striking exchanges, but he is an absolutely dogged workhorse on the mats and he knows exactly what kind of fight he needs. Shainis loves to brawl too much for me to see him keeping the fight in any one area. Jack Jenkins via TKO, round 2.

Tim Bissell: I think Don Shainis needs to havean uncomfortable conversation with his manager. His UFC debut was a super short notice fight with Sodiq Yusuff which lasted all of 30 seconds. And now for his second ever UFC fight he is flying to the other side of the world (on his own dime) to be a body against an Australian fighter on a long winning streak. I think he’s being flown over (on his own dime) to lose. Jack Jenkins by TKO.

Staff picking Jenkins: Eddie, Lucas, Chris, Kristen, Dayne, Stephie, Zane, Anton, Bissell
Staff picking Shainis:

Loma Lookboonme vs. Elise Reed

Anton Tabuena: Will Reed actually keep trading with a far superior striker? Good luck with that. Loma Lookboonme by decision.

Zane Simon: Reed can crack and she’ll get more than a few chances to land as Lookboonmee stalks into range. But she doesn’t throw enough combinations to be a consistent KO threat, and she’s too hyper focused on striking to make good reads against takedowns. If Lookboonmee can find her clinches, she should be able to drag Reed out of the fight. Loma Lookboonmee via decision.

Staff picking Lookboonme: Eddie, Lucas, Kristen, Dayne, Stephie, Zane, Anton, Bissell
Staff picking Reed: Chris

Blake Bilder vs. Shane Young

Zane Simon: I’m a little wary about seeing all of us pick Young in this. He’s a mile ahead of Bilder as a striker, but Young has a bad habit of fading himself out of fights against dangerous athletes, and Bilder definitely looks like he has the athletic edge here. The reasons not to pick the American, however, are all about how technically limited his game seems right now. At this point, most of what he wants to do in the cage can be paired down to a couple hooks and back-takes from any possible position. He’s strong enough and fast enough that when he lands, it’s with power, and when he can get connected to someone, he can be on their back in an instant. But when those two things aren’t happening, Bilder is often walking himself straight onto strikes with zero defensive movement or recognition. I’ll take Young to gut his way through to a win, just because he’s got so much more depth to his game here. But if he sticks himself on the back foot and doesn’t pull the trigger, this could be another disappointing loss. Shane Young via decision.

Staff picking Bilder: Lucas, Bissell
Staff picking Young: Eddie, Chris, Kristen, Dayne, Stephie, Zane, Anton

Zubaira Tukhugov vs. Elves Brenner

Zane Simon: Even on short notice, I’m surprised to see a guy like Elves Brenner in the UFC. Zubaira Tukhugov via TKO, round 1.

Staff picking Tukhugov: Eddie, Lucas, Kristen, Dayne, Stephie, Zane, Anton, Bissell
Staff picking Brenner: Chris


Who wins?

This poll is closed

  • 19%

    Randy Brown

    (36 votes)

  • 80%

    Jack Della Maddalena

    (148 votes)

184 votes total

Vote Now

Not a great week for anyone last week and only partially because the draw between Do Hoo Choi and Kyle Nelson gave everyone an L. The best records we had were 7-4, shared by myself, Kristen and Eddie. Chris Rini should look away, his patented coin flip technique got him a 3-8 record and sent him down one spot in the standings. Dayne, who went 6-5, was able to cling on to top position, but Eddie moved a few wins closer and took sole position of second place.

Week 10 Standings

Position Staffer Correct Incorrect Total Picks % Picks Back Week 9 Record
Position Staffer Correct Incorrect Total Picks % Picks Back Week 9 Record
1 (-) Dayne 76 37 113 0.673 9-6
2 (-) Eddie 73 40 113 0.646 3 8-7
3 (-) Zane 70 43 113 0.619 6 10-5
4 (-) Anton 69 44 113 0.611 7 10-5
5 (▼1) Kristen 67 46 113 0.593 9 8-7
6 (-) Stephie 64 38 102 0.627 12 8-7
7 (-) Bissell 60 53 113 0.531 16 6-9
8 (-) Lucas 50 49 99 0.505 26 5-10
9 (-) Chris 49 54 103 0.476 27 7-8
10 (-) Victor 21 20 41 0.512 55 8-7
11 (-) BE Community 17 11 28 0.607 59 10-5
12 (nr) Tim 8 7 15 0.533 68 8-7

About the author: Tim Bissell is a writer, editor and deputy site manager for Bloody Elbow. He has covered combat sports since 2015. Tim covers news and events and has also written longform and investigative pieces. (full bio)

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About the author
Tim Bissell
Tim Bissell

Tim Bissell is a writer, editor and deputy site manager for Bloody Elbow. He has covered combat sports since 2015. Tim covers news and events and has also written longform and investigative pieces. Among Tim's specialties are the intersections between crime and combat sports. Tim has also covered head trauma, concussions and CTE in great detail.

Tim is also BE's lead (only) sumo reporter. He blogs about that sport here and on his own substack, Sumo Stomp!

Email me at tim@bloodyelbow.com. Nice messages will get a response.

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