On March 4, UFC returns to T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas for UFC 285: Jones vs Gane, which features the highly anticipated return of Jon Jones in his quest to claim gold in the heavyweight division against Ciryl Gane. Also, flyweight champion Valentina Shevchenko tries to earn her eighth successful title defense against Alexa Grasso. The rest of the card features seven Top 10 contenders and numerous rising stars you’ll want to keep your eye on.
The last time fans saw Jon Jones compete in the Octagon was February 2020, when he defeated Dominick Reyes in his 11th successful title defense as UFC light heavyweight champion. After vacating his title six months later, Jones set out on a new challenge.
Over the last couple years, Jones had his eyes set on moving up to the heavyweight division, but he needed time to become accustomed to fighting in a new, heavier weight class. Jones returns to the Octagon on March 4, headlining UFC 285 in his heavyweight debut against former interim titleholder and current No. 1 contender Ciryl Gane.
One Moment From Every Jon Jones Fight
One Moment From Every Jon Jones Fight
Over the last decade, we’ve seen Jones defeat legend after legend, including the likes of Daniel Cormier, Glover Teixeira, Alexander Gustafsson and Lyoto Machida, showing few, if any, holes in his game over that time. However, the intrigue around this fight stems from Jones competing against a far heavier opponent in Gane, who’s revolutionized the heavyweight division with speed not usually associated with the big men of the sport.
So, how will Jones be able to fend off his biggest opponent to date? And will inactivity play any role in his performance in the early stages of the contest? All those questions and more will be answered at UFC 285.
Valentina Shevchenko Defends Her Flyweight Throne Against Alexa Grasso
The UFC women’s flyweight division has only seen two champions since its addition to the UFC in 2017, including none other than current flyweight champion Valentina Shevchenko, who captured gold against Joanna Jedrzejczyk in 2018 and hasn’t looked back since.
Amassing seven successful title defenses, Shevchenko is far and away the most decorated 125-pound athlete in UFC history, holding the record for most consecutive wins in the division (9), most flyweight title wins (8) and most knockout wins in the division’s history (4), just to name a few.
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Last time out, Shevchenko weathered the storm against her toughest opponent at 125 pounds yet in Taila Santos. Santos found success time and again once the fight hit the mat, taking control of Shevchenko’s back and threatening submissions. Like the champion she is, Shevchenko rallied in the late rounds to earn a split decision victory, her first of that kind since becoming champion.
Her next defense comes against Alexa Grasso in UFC 285’s co-main event. Grasso has won four straight since making her flyweight debut in 2020, most recently defeating Viviane Araujo in her first UFC Fight Night main event. Both athletes have an abundance of skills, ranging from knockout power to submission threats, making this an unpredictable co-headliner that will not disappoint.
Bo Nickal Makes Highly Anticipated UFC Debut
On week three of the latest season of Dana White’s Contender Series, standout NCAA wrestler Bo Nickal made his second professional mixed martial arts appearance against Zachary Borrego. With little resistance, Nickal took the fight down to the mat almost immediately and sunk in a rear naked choke, finishing Borrego in just over a minute.
While impressed, UFC president Dana White was hesitant to give Nickal an immediate contract due to his lack of experience. Instead, Nickal was given the main event slot on week 10’s card against Donovan Beard, seemingly with a UFC contract on the line.
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Even quicker than the first time, Nickal secured an early takedown and submitted Beard via triangle choke in just 52 seconds, proving that he really is as good as he says he is. Nickal earned a UFC contract with that performance, and is now scheduled to make his promotional debut as the main card opener at UFC 285: Jones vs Gane.
Standing across from him on fight night is Jamie Pickett, a former Contender Series graduate who’s picked up two wins in his three-year stint with the UFC. Early in his professional career, Pickett found most of his success on the feet, finishing eight of his 13 wins by knockout, making this a classic striker vs wrestler matchup to kick off Nickal’s UFC career.
Top 10 Contenders Square Off At Lightweight, Welterweight And Middleweight
The main card also features two Top 10 matchups in the lightweight and welterweight divisions. First, No. 7 ranked lightweight Mateusz Gamrot steps in on short notice to fight No. 10 ranked Jalin Turner. Gamrot had his four-fight winning streak snapped his last time out against Beneil Dariush, and is eager to get back to his winning ways and climb to the top of the 155 pound division. Turner is riding one of the UFC’s most impressive streaks across all divisions, finishing his last five opponents, three by submission and two by knockout, all before the end of the second round.
The middle of the main card features Top 10 welterweights Geoff Neal and Shavkat Rakhmonov. In August, Neal stunned fans by defeating Vicente Luque via third-round knockout, showing that his striking game is on par with anyone in the division, and that his power is something to behold. His opponent, Rakhmonov, is one of the promotion’s highly touted contenders. The undefeated Kazakh has won all 16 of his professional bouts, including all four of his UFC bouts by way of finish, including stoppage wins over Neil Magny and Alex Oliveira.
UFC 285 FREE FIGHTS: Shevchenko vs Andrade | Grasso vs Wood | Jones vs Machida | Gane vs Lewis | Jones vs Rua | Gane vs Tuivasa
Not only is UFC 285’s main card the most stacked of the year, so is the preliminary portion of the event. In addition to fan favorites Cody Garbrandt and Amanda Ribas, the prelims feature a Top 10 middleweight bout between Derek Brunson and Dricus Du Plessis. Last February, Brunson lost his first fight in three years against former title challenger Jared Cannonier and has since taken a year off. He challenges the always entertaining Du Plessis, who picked up a dominant victory over Darren Till at UFC 282: Blachowicz vs Ankalaev in December.
Rising Stars Compete On Early Prelims
Make sure to turn on your television and get comfortable early, because the action kicks off right away on UFC 285’s early prelims. In the bantamweight division, Du Plessis’ teammate Cameron Saaiman makes his second UFC appearance against Mana Martinez. Saaiman defeated Steven Koslow in his promotional debut at UFC 283 via third-round TKO.
Also, Ian Machado Garry makes his fourth walk to the Octagon to close out the early prelims against Song Kenan. Machado Garry stunned a sold out Madison Square Garden crowd in his debut, knocking out Jordan Williams with one second remaining in the first round. He has since picked up impressive wins over Darian Weeks and Gabriel Green, extending his perfect record to 10-0.
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!