Main Event: Jon Jones vs Ciryl Gane
Jon Jones | Best Moments
Jon Jones | Best Moments
Key Stats: 14 title fight wins (1st all-time), 57.9% significant strike accuracy (3rd all-time among LHW), 44.2% takedown accuracy (4th among LHW)
MORE JONES: History Is Made | Jones' Heavyweight Transformation | 5 Jones Fight To Watch | Run It Back | Jones' Career Breakdown And History
What It Means: “Bones” is as complete a mixed martial artist as any that exist on the roster, past or present. Granted, the appealing part of UFC 285 is finally seeing what Jones looks like at heavyweight, where he’ll have less of a size advantage than he did at 205 pounds. That said, his 84-inch reach is still sizeable. He has always done a great job of using that range and controlling distance intelligently with straight punches, front kicks and oblique kicks. Up close, he is a master of the clinch and creative with elbows and knees. He is also a born-and-bred wrestler who uses the threat of the takedown to set up strikes, and he’ll grapple to change the pace of the fight and overload his opponents defensively.
Key Stats: 57.9% significant strike accuracy (5th all-time among HW), 62.8% significant strike accuracy (tied 3rd all-time among HW), 55% takedown defense
MORE GANE: Eager To Test Himself Versus The G.O.A.T. | 5 Gane Fights To Watch | "A Happy Fighter Is A Dangerous Fighter"
What It Means: It’s a little freaky how fluidly Gane moves on his feet. Almost always with a bounce in his step, Gane’s lateral movement is similar to that of a fighter from a much lighter weight class, and the quickness with which he throws his strikes often puzzles flatter-footed opponents. Gane is much more of a “death by a thousand cuts” kind of striker, often relying on his speed and movement to touch and move from distance. Occasionally, he’ll sit down on a strike or launch a heavy kick, but he waits to pull opponents in before committing to a knockout strike.
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What to Look For in the Fight: Generally, the thought is that Jones will use his wrestling to wrangle Gane and slow “Bon Gamin” down a bit. One could argue Gane was surprised when Francis Ngannou switched gameplans and took the Frenchman down in their unification bout and focused more on that in preparation for this bout, but track records indicate Jones will have a path to victory on the mat. Gane, however, doesn’t move like a normal heavyweight, so Jones’ presumptive speed advantage he might have over other heavyweights might not be there as prominently. Jones has also shown, recently against Thiago Santos, that he can maneuver in and around a talented striker and have his own success on the feet against a kickboxing-based opponent.
Co-Main Event: Valentina Shevchenko vs Alexa Grasso
Key Stats: 56.4% significant strike accuracy (1st all-time among WFLW), 70.5% takedown accuracy (1st all-time among WFLW), 1.49 strikes absorbed per minute (1st all-time among WFLW)
MORE SHEVCHENKO: Looking Back At 10 Years Of Women In The UFC | Shevchenko vs Andrade Free Fight | 5 Shevchenko Fights To Watch
What It Means: Shevchenko has absolutely dominated the flyweight division since capturing the crown in December 2018. Along the way, she has shown very few holes in her game. Her striking is crisp, particularly when she chooses to sit and counter. She likes to respond with a quick combination ending with a kick or a spinning back kick when her opponents press the action. She can also take her opponents down with a variety of trips, throws and shots, and she likes to move to a crucifix position.
Key Stats: 5.14 strikes landed per minute, 44% striking accuracy, 64% takedown defense
What It Means: The most eye-popping part of Grasso’s game is her smooth boxing, both moving forward and countering. She does a good job of throwing multiple punches and staying technically sharp. Her jab to lead hook is one of her best weapons, and she has good timing when countering with an overhand right. Often, she’ll end her striking combinations with a kick. On the ground, she has a good submission game and has steadily improved her defensive wrestling.
MORE GRASSO: The Best 30 Fighters Under 30 | UFC 285 Countdown | Shevchenko vs Grasso Preview
What to Look For in the Fight: Often, Shevchenko is able to methodically overwhelm her opponents based on where she identifies her advantage. “Bullet” allows her opponents to take the fight to her at first, counter at will and eventually turn the tide, whether she takes them down or starts to piece them apart on the feet. Against Grasso, Shevchenko might be wise to initiate some grappling exchanges early, but she also likely has a speed advantage on the feet. Grasso, for her part, never wanes on aggression and rarely gets too wild on the feet, so she could go strike-for-strike with Shevchenko if she can find her timing.
Other Fights to Watch (Geoff Neal vs Shavkat Rakhmonov, Mateusz Gamrot vs Jalin Turner)
Key Stats: 1.05 knockdowns per 15 minutes (tied 6th all-time among WW), 1.73% bottom position percentage (9th all-time among WW), 88% takedown defense (5th all-time among WW)
RELATED: Preview Every Fight On UFC 285 | Fighters On The Rise
What It Means: Neal is a heavy-handed, educated striker with a wicked left hand and great finishing instincts. He is physically strong, particularly in the clinch and along the fence, with good defensive wrestling technique. “Handz of Steel” likes to shoot a left-hand lead when he can, and he has good timing on it as well. His left body and head kicks land hard, and he is sneaky about the way he follows them with punches. If he does get taken down, he does well to hustle and scramble, and he shows great power in turning clinch situations around on the fence.
Rise Of Shavkat Rakhmonov
Rise Of Shavkat Rakhmonov
Key Stats: 2.31 takedowns per 15 minutes, 6:30 average fight time, 1.39 strikes absorbed per minute
What It Means: Rakhmonov is an imposing force in the Octagon. He has exhaustive and swarming grappling abilities. His takedowns are aggressive, well-timed and committed. Once he has a hold of his opponent, he is smooth and savage in transitions and is able to float on top into different threatening positions, both in terms of attempted submissions and ground-and-pound. On the feet, he often marches his opponents down and plays with his takedown threat well. As he cuts off the cage, he opens up with punches and creative kicks that pull his opponents closer, which allows him to initiate a grappling exchange.
MORE RAKHMONOV: Skills Better Than A Video Game | Best Finishes You Forgot In 2022 | Best 30 Athletes Under 30 | Rankings Repercussions
What to Look For in the Fight: Essentially, this fight boils down to how Neal handles Rakhmonov’s wrestling. That isn’t to say Rakhmonov isn’t a sizeable threat on the feet, but Neal first needs to earn Rakhmonov’s respect in the grappling department. Neal has handled similar attacks well, particularly in his 2019 bout against Belal Muhammad, and he was actually the aggressor in that bout for many spells despite Muhammad’s well-documented wrestling abilities. We haven’t really seen Rakhmonov on the back foot yet, and Neal has the ability to shift the tide with a single left hand.
Key Stats: 4.66 takedowns per 15 minutes, 31% takedown accuracy, 3.25 strikes landed per minute
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What It Means: Gamrot is a high-motor, grappling-based fighter who can often wear opponents down with his high-octane wrestling. Often, Gamrot is patient when waiting to shoot for a takedown. He has confidence in his hands, and he likes to rush in with a few punches before grabbing hold of opponents. Even if his initial takedown isn’t successful, he is fantastic about staying connected and shooting multiple times, both in the open and along the fence.
"The Tarantula" is heating up! 🔥@JalinTurner comes into #UFC285 ready to make a statement 👀— UFC News (@UFCNews) February 28, 2023
Key Stats: 5:44 average fight time (6th shortest all-time among LW), +2.62 striking differential (1st all-time among LW), 2.61 submissions averaged per 15 minutes (5th all-time among LW)
Reasons To Watch UFC 285: Jones vs Gane
What It Means: “The Tarantula” is a complex web of limbs and power that make him one of the more intriguing lightweights outside of the Top 5. Turner has done well to develop his long-range strikes and plays within his range very well. When opponents get close and shoot in on him, he can time knees, as well as utilize his considerable leverage to fish for submissions from different angles. On the feet, he trusts his natural power and has a knack for catching opponents on the end of his punches.
What to Look For in the Fight: This profiles as a striker-vs-grappler matchup, but both athletes have shown decent proficiency in the entire MMA game. Gamrot is going to have to find a way to safely close the distance on Turner and push the pace on “The Tarantula.” Turner, given his size advantage, should be able to pick and poke at Gamrot, and he could do damage if he can time a knee or uppercut as Gamrot dives in for a takedown. Once the grappling exchanges do start, Turner will have to be mindful in his defense, but he has also shown a good instinct for finding his own submissions.
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!
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