The UFC went international with its first two pay-per-view events of 2023, rocking Jeunesse Arena in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in January before electrifying RAC Arena in Perth, Australia earlier this month.
But now it’s time for a home game, as the Octagon returns to T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas for UFC 285, where a massive card capped by twin championship fights is set to take place this weekend.
Here’s a rundown of the matchups scheduled to take place on Saturday.
Main Event: Jon Jones vs. Ciryl Gane
Co-Main Event: Valentina Shevchenko vs. Alexa Grasso
Location: T-Mobile Arena — Las Vegas, Nevada
Where to Watch: ESPN+
Other Main Card Matches:
- Geoff Neal vs. Shavkat Rakhmonov
- Mateusz Gamrot vs. Jalin Turner
- Bo Nickal vs. Jamie Pickett
- Cody Garbrandt vs. Trevin Jones
- Derek Brunson vs. Dricus Du Plessis
- Viviane Araújo vs. Amanda Ribas
- Julian Marquez vs. Marc-Andre Barriault
- Ian Machado Garry vs. Song Kenan
- Mana Martinez vs. Cameron Saaiman
- Jessica Penne vs. Tabatha Ricci
- Da’Mon Blackshear vs. Farid Basharat
- Carlos Candelario vs. Esteban Ribovics
Main Event: Jon Jones vs Ciryl Gane
The vacant heavyweight title is on the line in the main event of UFC 285, as former light heavyweight champion Jon “Bones” Jones makes his long awaited return to action and heavyweight debut opposite former interim titleholder Ciryl Gane.
Considered by many to be the greatest fighter in the history of the sport, Jones competes for the first time since his ultra-close UFC 247 victory over Dominick Reyes. While his resume and overall pedigree are undeniable, the returning former champion does face some questions ahead of this one, as he’s now 35 years old, hasn’t competed in over three years following a pair of competitive decision wins, and is venturing into the heavyweight ranks for the first time.
Gane had an opportunity to become the undisputed UFC heavyweight champion in his first fight of last year, but landed on the wrong side of the scorecards against Francis Ngannou at UFC 270. He rebounded with a third-round stoppage win over Tai Tuivasa at home in Paris in the fall, and now looks to make the most of his second opportunity to compete for the undisputed heavyweight title this weekend.
This is an utterly fascinating fight for a number of reasons, not the least of which is that the heavyweight version of Jones doesn’t carry the same height and reach advantages that were so foundational to his success in the 205-pound ranks. On top of that, Gane is a heavyweight that moves like a middleweight, so it will be captivating to see how the two approach each other and how this one shakes out once the Octagon door is locked on Saturday night.
Co-Main Event: Valentina Shevchenko vs Alexa Grasso
In the co-main event of the evening, flyweight queen Valentina Shevchenko defends her title against surging contender Alexa Grasso.
Shevchenko returns to Las Vegas seeking a 10th consecutive victory and eighth successful defense of her flyweight title on Saturday. After previously dominating the competition throughout her time in the 125-pound ranks, Shevchenko was pushed to her limits last summer in Singapore by challenger Taila Santos, edging out the Brazilian by split decision to retain her title.
Long forecasted to be a contender, Grasso needed to change divisions to realize her full potential, having earned four consecutive victories since making the move to flyweight in 2020. Last fall, the talented Mexican scored a unanimous decision win over Viviane Araujo to cement her standing as a championship contender, and this weekend, she gets the opportunity to join Brandon Moreno and Yair Rodriguez as Mexican UFC champions.
Any time a force of nature like Shevchenko doesn’t look like a force of nature, questions arise about whether they’re starting to slip, and the only way that can be answered is inside the Octagon. Grasso has been outstanding in her last four, working largely behind her smooth, crisp boxing, but knocking “Bullet” from her throne is a tall order.
Will it be “And Still!” or “And New!” when the dust from this one settles?
Other UFC 285 Main Card Fights
Geoff Neal vs Shavkat Rakhmonov
It’s a banger in the welterweight division with ascension in the rankings at stake as Geoff Neal squares off with Shavkat Rakhmonov. Neal arrives on a two-fight winning streak and coming off a third-round stoppage win over Vicente Luque, while Rakhmonov is 16-0 overall, 4-0 in the UFC, and yet to see the scorecards in his career. Both hold down a place in the Top 10, and the winner could find themselves in an even bigger matchup next time out, especially with a finish here.
Mateusz Gamrot vs Jalin Turner
Mateusz Gamrot and Jalin Turner face off in a critical lightweight pairing between ranked competitors looking to progress further in the division to start 2023. Gamrot jumped into the opening created by Dan Hooker’s withdrawal, aiming to rebound from his UFC 280 loss to Beneil Dariush. The 27-year-old Turner has won five straight, all by stoppage, and has the markings of an ascending talent putting all the pieces together, which means no matter how this one plays out, it should be wildly entertaining.
Bo Nickal vs Jamie Pickett
Originally scheduled to take place at UFC 282, Bo Nickal and Jamie Pickett now face off here in the UFC 285 main card opener. Nickal is one of the most intriguing new arrivals on the roster in years — a three-time D-1 National Champion wrestler and four-time All-American, who has looked outstanding through three fights — while Pickett is a fellow Dana White’s Contender Series (DWCS) grad who has managed two wins in six starts to begin his UFC career. All eyes will be on Nickal here, which gives Pickett the chance to pull off a major upset to kick off the pay-per-view.
Cody Garbrandt vs Trevin Jones
Cody Garbrandt returns to the division he once stood atop, hoping to snap a two-fight skid against fellow struggling bantamweight Trevin Jones in Saturday’s final preliminary card fight. Since defeating Dominick Cruz at UFC 207, “No Love” has gone just 1-5, and competes here following a stoppage loss to Kai Kara-France at flyweight at UFC 269. After having success early in his UFC tenure, Jones enters on a three-fight skid, most recently dropping a decision to Raoni Barcelos last October. Someone’s struggles have to end, but which of these two knockout artists will get their hand raised?
Derek Brunson vs Dricus Du Plessis
Derek Brunson and Dricus Du Plessis square off in a clash of ranked middleweights at UFC 285 this weekend. Brunson had his five-fight winning streak snapped last time out by Jared Cannonier, while Du Plessis arrives with a 4-0 record inside the Octagon, a run of six consecutive victories, and an 18-2 record overall. Brunson has talked about retirement in the past, while “Stillknocks” is surging at the moment, so it will be curious to see how things shake out here.
Viviane Araujo vs Amanda Ribas
Brazilians Viviane Araujo and Amanda Ribas meet in a battle of flyweights with aspirations of chasing down a place in the Top 5 this year. The 36-year-old Araujo has gone 5-3 in her first eight UFC starts, establishing herself as a fixture in the Top 10 with wins over Alexis Davis, Roxanne Modafferi, and Andrea Lee. Ribas has bounced between strawweight and flyweight, posting a 5-2 record overall, but now appears to have committed to fighting at 125 pounds after dropping a close decision to Katlyn Chookagian and being booked to fight Tracy Cortez late last year.
Julian Marquez vs Marc-Andre Barriault
DWCS grad Julian Marquez and French-Canadian veteran Marc-Andre Barriault face off in a middleweight contest that closes out the televised prelims on Saturday. Marquez competes for the first time since suffering a knockout loss to Gregory Rodrigues, while Barriault looks to bounce back from a submission defeat to Anthony Hernandez. Both have shown flashes of upside and will surely be looking to get things moving in the right direction to start 2023 here.
Ian Garry vs Song Kenan
Welterweight prospect Ian Machado Garry makes his return to the Octagon this weekend, squaring off with Chinese veteran Song Kenan. Unbeaten in 10 career starts, Garry is one of the top emerging talents in the sport and looks to register his first victory since becoming a father in October. Song went 4-1 over his first five UFC appearances but suffered a first-round stoppage loss to Max Griffin in his last outing in March 2021.
Mana Martinez vs Cameron Saaiman
Mana Martinez and Cameron Saaiman square off in what should be an action-packed bantamweight fight early in the evening. Martinez has gone 2-1 through his first three UFC appearances, posting split decision victories over Guido Cannetti and Brandon Davis on either side of a unanimous decision loss to Ronnie Lawrence, while Saaiman secured a third-round stoppage win in his promotional debut last December. Both Martinez and Saaiman are attacking, dangerous fighters on the feet, so don’t be surprised if this one establishes the bar to clear in order to earn Fight of the Night honors early in the evening.
Jessica Penne vs Tabatha Ricci
Jessica Penne and Tabatha Ricci meet in a pairing of strawweights from different eras. Penne ended a four-year absence with a pair of wins in 2021 to show she still had plenty to offer in the 115-pound ranks before dropping a decision to Emily Ducote last summer. Ricci began her UFC run with a loss at flyweight to contender Manon Fiorot, but has posted consecutive victories since moving back down to her natural surroundings. Will the veteran topple the ascending youngster or will Ricci hand Penne a second straight defeat?
Da’Mon Blackshear vs Farid Basharat
Da’Mon Blackshear gave a good accounting of himself on short notice in his promotional debut. Now he returns with a full camp behind him as he welcomes Farid Basharat to the Octagon for the first time. The 28-year-old Blackshear is 12-4-1 overall, fought solid competition throughout his career, and gave Youssef Zalal all he could handle last summer with little prep time. Basharat arrives in the UFC with a perfect 9-0 mark and looks to follow in the footsteps of his older brother, fellow bantamweight Javid Basharat, who similarly graduated from Dana White’s Contender Series and has since gone 3-0 inside the Octagon.
UFC 285: Jones vs Gane took place live from T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada on March 4, 2023. See the Final Results, Official Scorecards and Who Won Bonuses - and relive the action on UFC Fight Pass!