UFC 285 delivered, and in a big way. Jon Jones was able to make ring rust seem as real as Santa Claus (sorry if that's breaking news to any of you), Alexa Grasso shocked the world, Shavkot Rakhmonov maintains a 100% finishing rate and an undefeated record, and much more.
Now that the dust has settled a bit on this event, let's dive into the match-making side of things and put some pieces together.
Jon Jones vs Stipe Miocic
With the performance that Jon Jones put on Saturday, I'd be more than happy to empty my bank account for this fight. Don't tell Dana, though.
The former light heavyweight king took three years off, put on the pounds, and took on Ciryl Gane. A lot of people, myself included, thought that Gane would be the most difficult matchup for ‘Bones' at this new weight class.
However, Jones was able to once again make me eat crow. He beat Gane via first round submission and he made it look easy. Jon Jones, the new heavyweight champion!
Moving forward, it seems that Stipe Miocic wants a chance to get his belt back and be the first to actually beat Jon Jones. This fight has the intrigue of the entire MMA community.
Jon Jones vs Stipe Miocic to headline international fight week in July? Count me in!
Alexa Grasso vs Valentina Shevchenko rematch
Alexa, shock the world, please.
Valentina Shevchenko vs Alexa Grasso was announced and the most of the MMA community had already written Grasso off. Rather than letting the underdog role put her down, she trained and fought well. The challenger entered UFC 285 with an answer for nearly anything Shevchenko had. Grasso had most of her success on the feet when standing southpaw.
The fourth round saw Shevchenko put in a bad position. Grasso locked in a rear-naked choke and it was then a race against the clock. Grasso's choke was too suffocating and Shevchenko lost for the first time in over five years. This was an impressive win for Grasso, but Shevchenko's nine-fight win streak is the stuff of legend.
Shevchenko was a remarkable champion, and she deserves the opportunity to get her strap back ASAP. Sorry, Erin Blanchfield, but Valentina Shevchenko is more than deserving of an immediate rematch.
Shavkot Rakhmonov vs Colby Covington
These two did nothing short of deliver tonight 👊 #UFC285
— UFC (@ufc) March 5, 2023
Yeah, yeah, yeah… I know Covington isn't really in the picture right now, but he's still in the picture, if that makes sense. Colby Covington is 3-2 in his last five and fought 366 days ago. A steakhouse scuffle led to some legal issues and perhaps that's to blame for this hiatus. If ‘Chaos' wants to return and make an impact while doing so, taking on Rakhmonov would be a great way to do so.
Shavkot Rakhmonov put on one of the most entertaining fights of the night. Him and Geoff Neal went toe-to-toe and slugged things out for nearly fifteen minutes. Rakhmonov was winning, but he also showed that he's got a warrior's spirit in him. ‘Handz of Steel' was able to flash his boxing savvy and took the fight to his undefeated adversary.
Late in the third round, Rakhmonov hurt Neal and surprised everyone by finishing him with a standing rear-naked choke. This is a rare technique and I can't think of the last time I've seen it work at this level of fighting.
Rakhmonov extends his record to 17-0 with 100% finishing rate. With that being said, tell me that this guy doesn't deserve a fight that'll put him in a number one contender spot. Pro tip: you can't, he deserves it. Rakhmonov vs Covington, I really think this should happen.
Mateusz Gamrot vs winner of Gaethje vs Fiziev
I wanted to say that Gamrot should rematch Armen Tsarukyan, but I think they'll run it back eventually, no need to rush it. Instead, I feel that the winner of Justin Gaethje and Rafael Fiziev would be fun. The lightweight division is stacked, and the title picture could go multiple different ways at the moment. People like Alexander Volkanovski, Beneil Dariush, and Charles Oliveira are no doubt ahead of Fiziev, Gaethje, and Mateusz at the moment.
Gamrot would be wise to try and stay busy. Otherwise, this division could pass anyone up. Gaethje is a two-time title challenger and Fiziev is one of the hottest prospects in the sport right now; should Gamrot pick up another win over one of these fighters, he'd be doing more than knocking on the door of a title shot.
Bo Nickal vs Brendan Allen
If Alex Pereira can get a title fight with just two wins in the UFC, Bo Nickal could do the same. Why not send him down the same route? He won his debut, I say we toss him way up the ranks and let him fight just right outside of the top 15. Brendan Allen fought just over a week ago and picked up a huge win over Andre Muniz. Not only does Allen deserve a big fight, but Nickal needs a steep step up in competition.
The decorated wrestler was able to do what most thought he would do, and that's get the takedown, lock in a choke, and squeeze until submission. Allen, now on a four fight winning streak with three submissions, would be a great test to see where Nickal is at this point in his MMA training. Many think that, stylistically, he could win the title right now; Allen isn't at the top, but he offers a harder stylistic match up. This fight could be one to prepare Nickal for the top and it's one that'll ensure that the rest of the division knows exactly what he's here to do.