UFC 285: The return of the GOAT

Jon Jones makes his heavyweight debut against former interim heavyweight champion Ciryl Gane.

Nathan Montoya, Editor of News

UFC 285 was STACKED with two title bouts and many banger fights on the main card and the prelims. The main event of this PPV was the former Light Heavyweight Champion Jon Jones fighting against the former Interim Heavyweight Champion and #1 Contender Ciryl Gane. The co-main event was for the women’s flyweight championship where champion Valentina Shevchenko would defend her belt against Alexa Grasso. Other notable fights on this card included: Geoff Neal fighting vs. Shavkat Rakhmonov, upcoming prospect Bo Nickal making his UFC debut against Jamie Pickett, and on the undercard fights such as former bantamweight champion Cody Garbrandt vs Trevin Jones, Derek Brunson vs Dricus Du Plessis and Ian Garry vs Song Kenan.

Headlining the Early Prelims was undefeated Ian Garry going against Song Kenan, where this fight almost ended within the first round. Garry was knocked down with a large left hook counter from Kenan near the end of the first, and then got pressured by Kenan to try to get the finish before the end of the round, but unfortunately not enough punches were thrown as a follow-up, and Garry had enough time to recover and survive the rest of the round. Round 2 was a different story, however, with Garry outstriking his opponent the entire round, not getting knocked down or taken down again. In the last minute of round 3, Garry started landing combinations with punches and a knee being enough to end the fight with Garry winning via TKO. In the prelims we see Dricus Du Plessis making a big jump after winning in dominating fashion against Daren Till to become the tenth-ranked middleweight to fight number five-ranked Derek Brunson. The first round of the middleweight bout had Brunson outstriking Du Plessis as well as landing a takedown and attempting a submission. The second round showed both fighters being drained from their wrestling exchanges prior, and Du Plessis used this to his advantage to overwhelm the out-of-breath Brunson and land large punches to knock him down. While in the top position, Du Plessis landed large shots that caused Brunson’s corner to stop the fight to avoid any further damage and end the bout in a brutal fashion. The final fight on the Prelims was the former bantamweight champion Cody Garbrandt fighting against Trevin Jones, where patience was the name of the game for Garbrandt. After going 1-5 in his last 6 fights, it was clear to the former champion that he needed to be smart instead of engaging in a firefight so as to not get finished in the fight. One of the major highlights of this bout was within the second round, where Garbrandt showed more of his wrestling prowess, which was previously not on display in his past fights. In the end, he won the fight via unanimous decision, giving him a much-needed victory, and possibly getting him back in the right mindset.

Opening up the main card was the much-anticipated UFC debut of prospect Bo Nickal, who previously had only 3 MMA fights before, winning all of them in the first round via submission, and he fought against Jamie Pickett. The fight lasted just about half a round, with less than a total of 10 strikes being thrown by both fighters. Nickal would end up keeping not only his undefeated streak but his 100% finish rate by submitting Pickett. Another incredible fight on the main card was Geoff Neal fighting against Shavkat Rakhmonov. Both fighters went to war here, with Rakhmonov coming out on top all 3 rounds in the striking department, but getting his takedowns stuffed by Neal. The damage was starting to add up in each round, as Neal looked more tired by the 3rd, and this showed when near the end of the 3rd round Rakhmonov took his opponent back while standing and locked up a gnarly rear naked choke, which forced his opponent to tap, which helped not only keep Rakhmonov’s undefeated streak (17-0), but also his 100% finish rate.

In the co-main event of UFC 285, we saw a large upset where Valentina Shevchenko would attempt to defend her women’s flyweight belt against Alexa Grasso where she would be the large betting favorite. At -730 odds, the 7x champion was the favorite to win, and she was winning each round, landing the more significant strikes, and takedowns and having more top control. Near the end of the 4th round, Shevchenko made a mistake, when she threw a spinning back kick to the body, but Grasso acted on this almost immediately, taking the back of the champion and attempting a rear naked choke. The submission started off as a neck crank, with Grasso putting her forearm on the chin of the champ until eventually, she got her arm wrapped around her opponent’s neck, causing Shevchenko to tap, ending the almost 5-year run of the flyweight champion in a spectacular fashion. 

     The main event saw the return of one of the GOATs of the sport, Jon Jones, who came back after 3 years. He was fighting the former interim heavyweight champion Ciryl Gane for the undisputed heavyweight championship. An interim championship is held when the current undisputed champion is unable to defend their belt for a prolonged period of time, and thus the person who becomes the interim champion is essentially next in line for a title shot. The hype of this matchup was unreal, with people questioning if Jon Jones would be as fast and fluid as he was back weighing 205 lbs, where he now weighed upwards of 250lbs, and people assumed that Gane would be the only man who could plausibly give Jones trouble. The first round started with Gane accidentally throwing an illegal groin kick against Jones, causing a temporary timeout, then the round resumed with the 2 exchanging brief blows. However, Jones landed a takedown easily, and barely 2 minutes into the first round, secured a guillotine choke and caused Gane to tap, making Jon Jones the new UFC Heavyweight Champion of the world. 

UFC 285 is an event that will go down in history as one of the best. Not only did it see the return of someone who is now widely considered the GOAT, but we saw some amazing fights, upsets, and spectacular finishes.