UFC 285 finally sees Jon Jones’ return to the octagon after a near three-year absence. While Bones’ return to the octagon against Ciryl Gane is certainly the biggest fight on the card, the entire main card is stacked with exciting fights. UFC 285 also sees Valentina Shevchenko making her latest title defense against the skilled Alexa Grasso. The other fights on the main card include Bo Nickal vs. Jamie Pickett, Mateusz Gamrot vs. Jalin Turner, and Geoff Neal vs. Shavkat Rakhmonov.
See below for our breakdowns of each matchup and our pick for the card’s best bet.
Bo Nickal vs. Jamie Pickett
The main card opens with a fight between Nickal and Pickett. Nickal is heavily favored to win this matchup, and for good reason. Nickal is one of the greatest collegiate wrestlers in history, as he won the NCAA DI national championship three times in four years. He’s only fought three times as a professional, but he is 3-0 with two submissions.
Pickett, on the other hand, is a striker who’s been submitted in 38% of his losses. Nickal by submission is the obvious pick. However, Pickett does have superior striking and far more experience, so he can’t be written off entirely.
Mateusz Gamrot vs. Jalin Turner
Gamrot vs. Turner looks to be a fairly evenly matched bout between two well-rounded fighters. Gamrot is the favorite, but people may be underrating Turner slightly. Gamrot is known for his wrestling prowess, but Turner has excellent BJJ skills. This fight will probably go to the judges. Our pick is Gamrot by UD.
Geoff Neal vs. Shavkat Rakhmonov
Rakhmonov is heavily favored in this matchup. He’s coming off four straight UFC wins, including an impressive submission win against Neal Magny in his last fight. He has not only won all of his 16 professional fights to date, but he’s achieved stoppages in all of his bouts. Furthermore, these stoppages have been split evenly between subs and knockouts.
Many see Rakhmonov as a future champion, but he hasn’t yet faced a top fighter. While Neal may not be an elite fighter, he’s still a dangerous striker who represents a clear step up in competition. However, we’re still picking Rakhmonov by submission.
Valentina Shevchenko vs. Alexa Grasso
Shevchenko looked surprisingly vulnerable in her last fight, narrowly winning a decision over Talia Santos. However, Shevchenko will be motivated to prove the critics wrong after a relatively lackluster performance. Grasso has good boxing skills, but Shevchenko is superior in every area. We’re picking Shevchenko by TKO in this fight.
UFC 285 Main Event: Jon Jones vs. Ciryl Gane
Jon Jones finally returns for his long-awaited heavyweight title challenge. His debut at 265 was supposed to be against Ngannou, but this never materialized for a whole host of reasons. Gane is still a very tough and well-rounded opponent with a high fight IQ. However, it’s hard to see him beating the fighter who many consider to be the greatest of all time. Gane won’t even have a size advantage, as Jones is the same height and almost exactly the same weight. In fact, Jones will have a 3.5-inch reach advantage. While Jones may not be able to get a finish, we’re still picking him to win by UD.
Best Bet For UFC 285
Our best bet for this fight is Turner by submission. Gamrot is well-known to have strong wrestling skills, but fewer people know that Turner has excellent BJJ skills. While Gamrot may get a few takedowns, Turner is more than capable of submitting Gamrot off his back.