UFC 285 marked the return of Jon Jones who impressively submitted Ciryl Gane in the first round. Jones weighed in for this vacant Heavyweight title fight at a staggering 248 pounds but used his added weight to his advantage, taking down Gane and finishing him by Guillotine Choke in under three minutes. In the Co-Main Event, long-time Women’s Flyweight champion Valentina Shevchenko was submitted by Alexa Grasso in the fourth round. With this win, Grasso became Mexico’s first-ever Women’s champion after cashing as a (+580) betting underdog. Also on the UFC 285 main card, impressive prospects Shavkat Rakhmonov (17-0) and Bo Nickal (4-0) won their fights by finish.
Jon Jones (27-1) Def. Ciryl Gane (11-2)
In the Main event of UFC 285, all-time great Jon Jones faced dangerous striker Ciryl Gane for the UFC Heavyweight title. Jones is the former Light Heavyweight champion and spent the last three years transforming his body for a move up in weight. Jones defended his 205-pound title a record fourteen times and is now the eighth fighter in UFC history to be a two-weight world champion. Gane is a physical specimen whose kickboxing and movement have helped him succeed in the UFC. Some thought that the speed and athleticism of Gane would present problems for Jones on the feet, but that was not the case Saturday night.
The first round started with an accidental kick to the groin of Jon Jones that halted the action for a few seconds. When the fight resumed Jones immediately pressured Gane forcing him to fight off the back foot. When Gane threw a straight left hand, Jones ducked under the punch and overpowered Gane with a body lock takedown. Once the fight hit the floor Gane was overmatched. Jones quickly transitioned to full mount and expertly locked in a guillotine choke around the neck of his opponent forcing him to tap. This was an unbelievably easy and impressive win for Jones who came out of this fight virtually untouched. With this victory, Jones is once again the champion of the world and may regain his spot atop the UFC pound-for-pound rankings.
Many interesting matchups are on the horizon for Jones who recently signed a new 8-fight deal with the promotion. It looks like Jones will face former Heavyweight Champion Stipe Miocic (20-4) in his next fight. Miocic is coming off a knockout loss to Francis Ngannou but will be more competitive with Jones than Gane was at UFC 285. Miocic has tremendous takedown defense and is very physically strong with fifteen knockouts on his record.
Alexa Grasso (16-3) Def. Valentina Shevchenko (23-4)
In the Co-Main event, Alexa Grasso defeated champion Valentina Shevchenko by submission. Shevchenko had been a dominant champion and was looking to get her eight-title defense in this matchup. Grasso is extremely well-rounded with tremendous boxing and jiu-jitsu. Grasso defeated contenders Mayce Barber and Joanne Wood leading into this title shot and was a betting underdog at (+580) on online sportsbooks.
The first round started extremely competitive as Grasso was determined to earn Shevchenko’s respect on the feet. Shevchenko was fighting well at distance using her leg kicks and jab to keep Grasso on the outside. Shevchenko took the fight to the ground but was quickly reversed by Grasso who was ahead after the first round. In rounds two and three Shevchenko started to find her timing on the feet and continued to throw damaging kicks to the legs of Grasso. In round four Shevchenko attempted a spinning back kick but missed, leaving herself out of position. As Shevchenko was left out of position Grasso grabbed her back and took her to the ground. Once on the ground, Grasso locked in a vicious neck crank crushing the jaw of Shevchenko. Shevchenko was forced to tap four minutes into round number four.
With Shevchenko being a long-time champion, I could very easily see this fight happening again. Grasso held her own on the feet and secured a submission on the ground showing how well-rounded she is. This was a historic performance that made Grasso the first-ever Mexican-born Women’s champion in UFC history.
Shavkat Rakhmonov (17-0) Def. Geoff Neal (15-5)
In a matchup of Welterweight contenders, Shavkat Rakhmonov faced Geoff “Handz of steel” Neal. Rakhmonov is a fast-rising prospect who many believe to have championship potential in his future. Rakhmonov came into this contest (16-0) with all of those fights ending by finish. Neal was coming off back-to-back victories over ranked fighters Santiago Ponzinibbo and Vicente Luque. Many believed that Neal would be the first real test in the career of Rakhmonov, which proved to be true.
This contest was fought at an incredibly high pace with Rakhmonov unwilling to take a step backward from the start. Rakhmonov pressured Neal who responded by throwing hard combinations to the head of his opponent while moving backward. Neal possesses tremendous power in his hands and looked to be content with throwing hard punches as Rakhmonov moved forward. Of the 69 significant strikes, Neal landed 63 of them to the head of his opponent. Rakhmonov landed 120 significant strikes and walked through Neal’s powerful attacks for three rounds. Rakhmonov got hit cleanly many times throughout the fight but showcased an unbelievable chin. In round three Rakhmonov had Neal against the fence and found his way to his back. When Rakhmonov took control of Neal’s back he locked in a rear naked choke submission.
Rakhmonov extended his unbeaten streak to seventeen and once again finished his opponent. In a stacked 170-pound division Rakhmonov possesses the skills striking and grappling to cause problems for all of the division’s elite. After the fight, Rakhmonv called out former title challenger Colby Covington, who has not fought since his win over Jorge Masvidal.
Mateusz Gamrot (22-2) Def. Jalin Turner (13-6)
Ranked Lightweight contenders Mateusz Gamrot and Jalin Turner put on a competitive back-and-forth contest on the main card. Gamrot recently lost to top-five ranked lightweight Beniel Dariush and was looking to get back in the win column against the athletic Jalin Turner. Turner finished five opponents in a row before this fight and is extremely talented. At 6’3 Turner holds a reach and size advantage over everyone in the division.
Gamrot fought a very strategic fight in this contest looking to avoid the striking of the rangy Turner. Gamrot attempted twelve takedowns throughout the fight securing four. In round one Turner knocked Gamrot down with a straight left hand, but Gamrot was able to grab the legs of Turner finding a takedown. In rounds, two and three Turner would land the more damaging shots on the feet only to be taken down shortly after. After three rounds Gamrot won a split decision on the judges’ scorecards (29-28, 28-29, 30-27).
Gamrot will find himself matched up against a top-five contender in his next fight, possibly the winner of Justin Gaethje vs Rafael Fiziev. Turner will need to go back and make adjustments after this loss. Turner and his coaches will need to improve his takedown defense if he wants to find success against the best in his weight class, although he put together a good showing in this fight.
UFC 285 Prelims:
The UFC 285 prelims were filled with exciting contenders and highlight finishes. Bo Nickal (4-0) made his UFC debut this weekend quickly submitting UFC veteran Jamie Pickett. Nickal is a former three-time national champion at the University of Penn State and has a dominant ground game for a newcomer to the sport. Nickal is extremely fresh in his UFC career but may be fast-tracked to higher-level competition moving forward. Also on the UFC 285 prelims, Dricus Du Plessis (19-2) defeated top-ten-ranked contender Derek Brunson by knockout. Du Plessis looked impressive in this fight and won a back-and-forth battle. Brunson seemed to tire late in round three and Du Plessis took advantage earning a finish.
UFC 285 was an incredible and historic night of fights that will not be soon forgotten. Next weekend the UFC will return with a Fight Night card from The Theater at Virgin Hotels, with a ranked Bantamweight contest between Peter Yan and Merab Dvalishvili.
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