With reports starting to emerge that the UFC will soon be announcing their return to Australia for UFC 284 in February, I wanted to get a head start and look ahead of some of the fighters and potential fights that could end up on the card.
UFC FW champion Alexander Volkanovski, Robert Whittaker, and Jack Della Maddalena have already been rumored for the event, but there are nearly two dozen fighters currently on the UFC roster who either fight out of and/or are from the Australia/New Zealand region.
While some of these fighters are already booked for fights in the coming weeks and might not be ready for the quick turnaround in February, there are plenty of them that should be available and ready to go if offered a spot on the card.
Let’s start with the biggest names that will almost certainly find their way onto the UFC 284 card:
Alexander Volkanovski – The #1 P4P fighter in the UFC will almost certainly be the headliner for the event, although it’s slightly less certain who his opponent might be. My guess is Yair Rodriguez will receive the shot here, but I wouldn’t rule out fellow contender Josh Emmett either.
Kai Kara-France – Coming off a tough loss to Brandon Moreno in an interim flyweight title match, Kara-France will almost certainly look to be one of the early additions to this card. There are several options for opponents as KKF looks to get back in the win column, but I think Alejandro Pantoja is the most likely candidate.
Robert Whittaker – Whittaker is another fighter that is a near certainty to appear on this card, but it might not be easy to figure out an opponent since he’s already gone through just about everyone at the top of his division. Paulo Costa makes the most sense, but he’s currently healing up from a broken hand and might prefer to be on the UFC 283 card in Brazil if he’s healthy enough.
Tai Tuivasa – Tuivasa is coming off a pretty tough KO loss to Cyril Gane at UFC Paris last month, but assuming he’s healed up and ready to go by February, it’s hard to imagine this card without him involved somewhere. It definitely wouldn’t be an easy matchup for Bam Bam, but I could see the UFC booking him against Sergei Pavlovich in a battle of top heavyweights for this one.
Casey O’Neill – Depending on how she progresses in her recovery from injury, this card would make an excellent potential spot for a return for one of the best talents in women’s MMA. Casey was forced to withdraw from her last fight when she was injured during training, but there are plenty of names in the division for her potential return if she’s ready by February. Jessica Andrade is a highly ranked fighter in the division who currently doesn’t have a fight, although she could certainly still be added to UFC 283 in Brazil.
Jack Della Maddalena – Another one of the top young prospects from the region, JDM is almost certainly going to find himself on this card as he continues to try to make his climb in the welterweight division. Originally, I thought Geoff Neal would make for a solid opponent for this card, but it appears he might be otherwise engaged according to his social media. Li Jiangling might be another option that could make sense.
Tyson Pedro – Pedro is another fighter who’s ties to the region and entertaining fighting style make him a near certainty to be added for this card. He’s already got a couple of wins under his belt since he returned from a lengthy layoff and could look to continue his climb close to home. Azamat Murzakanov might make sense as an opponent for the event.
Jake Matthews – News recently broke that fight news was coming soon for Matthews and I wouldn’t be surprised if his next fight is announced in the near future for UFC 284. There are plenty of potential options for Matthews to face at the event, but Gunnar Nelson is a name that might make sense for an opponent.
Josh Culibao – Are you starting to get a sense how deep the UFC’s talent pool from this region is? Culibao has an entertaining fight style and would make an excellent addition to this card and one potential name stood out as a potential opponent: Drakkar Klose. I feel like these two could quietly put one of the more entertaining fights from this theoretical card.
Jamie Mullarkey – After having fought fairly recently, Mullarkey should be looking for another fight around the same timeframe as this event and it would be surprising if he doesn’t push to be added. Mullarkey has been on a pretty good run as of late and an opponent who’s had a similarly successful stretch would be Joe Solecki.
That’s a pretty solid list of names that doesn’t even include other fighters from the region who are currently booked for upcoming fights but could still make quick turnarounds. That list includes Dan Hooker, Jacob Malkoun, Carlos Ulburg, and others.
There’s also another giant wild card who potentially looms large: Israel Adesanya. Depending on the outcome of his upcoming title defense against Alex Pereira at UFC 281 next month, Izzy could definitely make a fairly quick turnaround and also fight at UFC 284.
Who are some of the fighters that you would like to see on the UFC 284 card? Share your thoughts below in the comment section and tell us about your ideal lineups for the event!
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