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Interim Featherweight Gold at Stake in the UFC 284 Co-Main Event

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The night before the Super Bowl is usually a banner night for MMA’s top promotion, and this year is no exception. Saturday, 24 hours before the Philadelphia Eagles and Kansas City Chiefs lock horns in Glendale for the championship of professional football, Dana White‘s athletes get the party started with UFC 284.

Live coverage of UFC 284 will take place from Perth, Australia’s RAC Arena, where it will already be Sunday, beginning with the early prelims at 6 pm ET/ 3 pm PT on UFC Fight Pass and ESPN+. Late prelims follow at 8 pm ET/ 5 pm PT on ESPN+ and the main ESPN channel.

Note: ESPN is slated to run Mississippi State at Arkansas at 6 pm ET/ 3 pm PT in college basketball on Saturday evening. Should the ballgame exceed its allotted two-hour run time, expect the late prelims of UFC 284 to begin on ESPNews.

Main card action follows at 10 pm ET/ 7 pm PT on ESPN+ pay-per-view.

Interim Featherweight Gold at Stake in UFC 284 Co-Main Event

All told, barring any further postponements between now and Saturday night, UFC 284 will feature a stacked 13-fight card and a championship doubleheader to cap off the night’s activities. It begins with the UFC 284 co-main event.

The UFC Interim Featherweight Championship is up for grabs in the co-headliner. No. 2 contender Yair Rodriguez (14-3, 1 NC MMA, 9-2, 1 NC UFC) will do battle with No. 5 contender Josh Emmett (18-2 MMA, 9-2 UFC). As with all title fights in the UFC, the UFC 284 co-main event will be an advertised maximum of five rounds at five minutes per round.

Permanent featherweight champion Alexander Volkanovski (25-1 MMA, 12-0 UFC) will seek to attain double-champ status in the UFC 284 main event when he battles current UFC Lightweight Champion Islam Makhachev (23-1 MMA, 12-1 UFC). After Saturday’s card, the former intends to resume his reign at featherweight against the interim champion in a unification battle later on in 2023.

UFC 284 Co-Main Event Fighter Comparison and Betting Odds

Entering the UFC 284 co-main event on Saturday evening, Yair Rodriguez stands as the taller man at 5-foot-11, compared to the 5-foot-6 frame of Josh Emmett. In addition, Rodriguez owns a one-inch reach advantage (71 inches to 70 inches), as well as a two-inch leg reach advantage (41 1/2 inches to 39 1/2 inches) over Emmett.

As of Tuesday afternoon, the oddsmakers have Yair Rodriguez installed as a -165 favorite, with Josh Emmett a +140 underdog. If you plan on betting on this or any other fight happening this weekend, please wager responsibly.

Yair Rodriguez Looking to Build Off TKO Win

Yair Rodriguez has posted a 3-1 record with one no-contest in his last five MMA bouts. Back on July 16, he scored a first-round victory by way of TKO in the UFC on ABC 3 main event versus Brian Ortega. The fight was called off with 49 seconds remaining in the opening round after Ortega could no longer continue in the match due to a shoulder injury.

After the fight, the victorious Rodriguez spoke to 2022 UFC Hall of Fame inductee Daniel Cormier and a national television audience.

“I think it was a pretty tight fight,” Rodriguez began. “He was doing a great job keeping me on the cage. I was just trying to do as much damage as I could so I could take away his movement on his feet. It’s unfortunate that he dislocated his shoulder or whatever. I already told him we can run it back anytime. We can do this, but I’ll rather do it for a championship instead of being in a situation like this. But whatever the UFC decides, I’m okay with whatever.”

It can be argued, and rather convincingly so, at that, that a Rodriguez vs. Ortega rebooking should be in the cards at some point down the road, given the nature of the finish last summer. Rodriguez also said in that same post-fight interview that he wanted to fight for a championship.

On Saturday night in the UFC 284 co-main event, he’ll get his chance at gold. Don’t forget to tune in.

Josh Emmett Riding Momentum of Five-Fight Winning Streak

In the other corner, Josh Emmett has gone 5-0 in his last five MMA fights dating back to March 30, 2019. Last time out, he defeated Calvin Kattar (23-7 MMA, 7-5 UFC) by a split decision in June during UFC Austin’s main event after five rounds.

While attending the Jan. 13 A1 Combat 7, Emmett was interviewed by KHTK-AM, Sactown Sports 1140 in Sacramento, CA. In it, Emmett praised his adversary in the UFC 284 co-main event.

“Yair, he’s one of the best fighters in the world,” Emmett began. “That’s why we’re fighting for a world title. I just focus on myself, my training. If the best me shows up, there’s no one in the world that can beat me. I bring in a lot of training partners that can kind of mimic his style, even though it’s hard to mimic exactly Yair, because we don’t know what he’s going to do, because he’s so elusive, like you said, but I’m well-prepared and it’s going to show on Feb. 11.”

For the past five bouts, the best version of Josh Emmett has shown up in the UFC Octagon. He’s proven himself more than worthy of this title shot, but can he capitalize with a victory in the UFC 284 co-main event?

Analysis, Film Study, and Prediction

Stylistically, the UFC 284 co-main event on Saturday evening looks to favor Yair Rodriguez, who owns a black belt in Taekwondo, compared to Josh Emmett’s status as a former collegiate wrestler with a purple belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu.

It’ll be a classic strength versus strength matchup. The only question is simple: Who’s stronger?

Yair Rodriguez is a Knockout Specialist

Of Yair Rodriguez’s 14 career MMA victories, eight have come inside the distance, including five knockouts. While a fight in the 2014 season of The Ultimate Fighter: Latin America against Rodolfo Rubio Perez was an exhibition and thus didn’t count toward his overall record, it was impressive just the same.

In the first round of a scheduled three, both fighters bided their time to wait and land the perfect strike. It was Rodriguez landing the opening salvo with a couple of kicks, including one which briefly wobbled Perez. Perez returned fire with a kick of his own and a punch to set up a clinch and a takedown.

Rodriguez was able to effectively grapple from the bottom position and stifle Perez’s attacks, forcing the latter to wall walk and transition to a back clinch, but Rodriguez again fought off his efforts. About two minutes into the fight, the contenders exchanged kicks, with Rodriguez catching a kick attempt to dump Perez.

At this point, it was the beginning of the end. Rodriguez scored with a few ground-and-pound shots before signaling for referee Herb Dean to ask Perez to rise to his feet. Although Rodriguez was tested by several kicks from Perez, he punched his way to a knockout with under a minute to go.

If Rodriguez finds himself in trouble, look for him to start throwing fists. It just may turn the tide.

Josh Emmett Can Also Land the Big Shot

In the other corner, don’t discount Josh Emmett’s ability to score the huge punches. During the first round of his fight against Mirsad Bektic, he stalked Bektic as he tried to find the right time to strike.

This continued for about a minute and a half, allowing Emmett to dictate the pace of the fight, coupled with Bektic misfiring on some of his punches. A few minutes into the round, Emmett finally opened up with a few punches, connecting on a blow to his opponent’s head.

Bektic’s defense against Emmett’s right hands finally gave out when the latter struck with a punch to the head as the round reached its final minute. From there, Emmett landed repeated hammer fists and elbows. A flurry of right-handed ground and pound shots from the back mount ended the contest.

If Emmett is able to dictate the pace of the UFC 284 co-main event, it could work advantageously for him.

Final Thoughts

We’ve got an entertaining fight in the co-headliner on Saturday. Buckle up. This ride’s going to get a little bumpy.

Prediction: Josh Emmett by Unanimous Decision.

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Drew Zuhosky has been writing about MMA since the spring of 2018. A graduate of Youngstown State University in Youngstown, OH, Drew enjoys a good game and an even better fight. When he's not writing, you can find him playing video games and listening to music.

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