UFC 285 is stacked from top to bottom and in this article I will go over my picks for every fight. The main event features the return of the GOAT Jon Jones challenging the number one ranked heavyweight Ciryl Gane for the vacant heavyweight championship. The co-main event is a banger of a fight as well in a co-main event for the women’s flyweight championship between Valentina Shevchenko and Alexa Grasso. Let’s jump right into the main event!
Main Event: Jon Jones (26-1) (-165) vs Ciryl Gane (11-1) (+140)
Winner: Jon Jones
The GOAT is back! Jon Jones is making his long-awaited return and now in a new weight division. Before his return, Jones was on a four fight win streak with his most recent win coming over Dominick Reyes. Now he is looking for a belt in a second division by taking down former interim heavyweight champion Ciryl Gane to become the new heavyweight champion of the world. His opponent, Gane, is coming off a TKO win over Tai Tuivasa his last time out, with his only loss being to Francis Ngannou before he parted ways with the UFC. Now he looks to be the first to legitimately defeat arguably the greatest fighter of all time and become the heavyweight champion.
In his return, I believe that Jon Jones will be coming home with heavyweight gold and cement his legacy as the greatest of all time. In the past, Jones has been able to dominate with both his incredible striking and his wrestling. On the feet, he was always much longer than his opponents and was able to piece apart his opponents from a distance where they can’t reach him. Gane will pose a different test as he is also an incredible technical striker who also possesses over an 80-inch reach. What Jones should implement to earn the win is his wrestling. In Gane’s only loss, Francis Ngannou’s wrestling is what allowed him to defeat Gane. If Ngannou was able to get Gane to the mat, I expect that an elite wrestler like Jones should be able to do the same thing. I expect Jones to use his length to set up takedowns round after round and earn a victory, making him the new heavyweight champion.
Co-Main Event: Valentina Shevchenko (23-3) (-835) vs Alexa Grasso (15-3) (+545)
Winner: Valentina Shevchenko
In the co-main event, number one pound-for-pound female fighter in the world, Valentina Shevchenko, defends her title against the surging Alexa Grasso. The champion, Shevchenko, comes into this fight with slightly less momentum than usual as she comes off her closest victory with a split decision win over Taila Santos, but she is still the champion and is looking to prove why. The challenger, Grasso, is on a four fight win streak of her own and is now looking to become the first female Mexican champion in UFC History.
Although Shevchenko looked more beatable in her last fight, I don’t think this is the time she gets beat. It has been shown time and time again that Shevchenko is an all-around great fighter, but the key to victory here will be her grappling advantage. Grasso’s primary strength is her striking ability, so on the feet this could be a close fight, but if Shevchenko gets this fight to the ground she should be able to win. I believe that Shevchenko’s excellent striking defense will allow her to avoid Grasso’s attacks and will get the fight to the ground and earn another successful title defense.
Fight 12: Geoff Neal (15-4) (+385) vs Shavkat Rakhmonov (16-0) (-530)
Winner: Shavkat Rakhmonov
The next fight is a welterweight clash between longtime UFC veteran Geoff Neal and rising superstar Shavkat Rakhmonov. Neal enters this fight on an impressive two fight win streak with a decision win over Santiago Ponzinibbio and a TKO win over Vicente Luque. He is putting that win streak on the line against the undefeated Shavkat Rakhmonov and looks to prove he is ready to be a real contender in the Welterweight Division. Rahkmonov has other plans for the night, as he is looking to improve his UFC record to 5-0 with a win over an established ranked like Geoff Neal.
As impressive Neal has looked as of late, I believe that Rakhmonov is overall the superior fighter. On the feet, this fight should be close, but Rakhmonov is far superior to Neal on the ground. I expect that Rakhmonov will use his kicks to set up his takedowns. Once the fight hits the ground, Rakhmonov will put on a clinic. Rakhmonov should be able to use ground and pound and dominate positioning to set up a submission and get Neal to tap. I wouldn’t bet on him to win by submission though because I could see him grinding out a decision victory or winning by ground and pound TKO.
Fight 11: Mateusz Gamrot (21-2) (-215) vs Jalin Turner (13-5) (+175)
Winner: Mateusz Gamrot
This lightweight matchup was originally supposed to feature Dan Hooker and Jalin Turner, but now Mateusz Gamrot has jumped in on short notice. After Gamrot’s win streak was broken by Beneil Dariush he is now coming in on short notice to try and put an end to Turner’s hype and assert himself atop the division’s contenders. Turner has made a name for himself recently with a five fight win streak and is looking to prove he is a real top contender for the belt at the young age of 26.
Although I believe this fight is closer than the odds say it is, I am backing Gamrot to win this fight. If I was going with momentum I would be backing Turner, but I expect Gamrot to bounce back and use his experience to come home with a win. On the feet Turner will most likely have the advantage with his five-inch reach advantage, and it is possible that Turner could look to lock in an early submission, but the longer this fight goes the more it favors Gamrot. If Gamrot can withstand Turner’s early pressure, Gamrot should use a combination of his striking to set up his wrestling and out grapple Turner the rest of the fight. Gamrot is an incredibly active and talented fighter, and I don’t think Turner is quite ready for this level of competition.
Fight 10: Jamie Pickett (13-8) (+1020) vs Bo Nickal (3-0) (-2295)
Winner: Bo Nickal by Submission or KO/TKO
The first fight on the main card features middleweight veteran Jamie Pickett taking on one of the most highly regarded prospects in UFC history, Bo Nickal. Pickett has been incredibly underwhelming in his UFC career with a 2-4 record and is currently on a two fight win streak. It seems like the UFC is setting up Pickett with one last opportunity against a fighter he shouldn’t beat before letting him go. For Nickal the UFC is giving him this matchup to showcase what he can do on a larger scale. If Nickal can defeat Pickett in his UFC debut, he should be given an opportunity against a higher level opponent his next time out.
As the odds indicate, this fight is by far the easiest to predict on the entire card. Nickal is a humongous favorite, and his reputation proves why. He is one of the greatest collegiate wrestlers in modern history, and in his only three professional fights he has ended all three in the first round and, most recently a submission win on Dana White’s Contender Series in under a minute. Pickett is a timid fighter on the feet, which should allow for Nickal to pressure him before setting up a takedown. Once the fight hits the ground, Nickal will either pound away on Pickett or will look for a submission. I expect this fight to be a quick and exciting way to start off the main card with a first round finish from Nickal.
Fight Nine: Cody Garbrandt (12-5) (-180) vs Trevin Jones (13-9) (+150)
Winner: Cody Garbrandt by KO/TKO or Decision
Fight Eight: Derek Brunson (23-8) (+190) vs Dricus Du Plessis (18-2) (-235)
Winner: Dricus Du Plessis by KO/TKO or Decision
Fight Seven: Viviane Araujo (11-4) (+100) vs Amanda Ribas (10-3) (-120)
Winner: Amanda Ribas by Decision
Fight Six: Julian Marquez (9-3) (+130) vs Marc-Andre Barriault (14-6) (-155)
Winner: Julian Marquez
Fight Five: Ian Machado Garry (10-0) (-785) vs Kenan Song (19-6) (+520)
Winner: Ian Machado Garry by KO/TKO or Decision
Fight Four: Mana Martinez (10-3) (+220) vs Cameron Saaiman (7-0) (-275)
Winner: Cameron Saaiman by KO/TKO or Decision
Fight Three: Jessica Penne (14-6) (+250) vs Tabatha Ricci (7-1) (-315)
Winner: Tabatha Ricci by Decision or Submission
Fight Two: Farid Basharat (9-0) (-475) vs Da’Mon Blackshear (12-4-1) (+355)
Winner: Farid Basharat by Decision or Submission
Fight One: Loik Radzhabov (16-4-1) (-255) vs Esteban Ribovics (11-0) (+205)
Winner: Loik Radzhabov by Decision or KO/TKO