UFC 285 delivered! The heavyweight headliner saw the successful return of a former champion and his fellow flyweight ended in a huge upset.
The preliminary portion of the card began with a grueling affair between promotional newcomers Loik Radzhabov and Esteban Ribovics. Both fighters had several moments near the end of the fight, but Radzhabov secured the victory with a mixture of striking and grappling. Farid Basarat won a unanimous decision against Da’Mon Blackshear. ‘Ferocious’ gave a comprehensive performance, which was enough to sweep the judges’ scorecards. Tabatha Ricci gave us our first finish of the night by submitting Jessica Penne in the second round. “Baby Shark” lifted Penne to the ground, went into an armbar and got the tap. Impressive performance from Ricci. Cameron Saaiman added another win to his resume with a unanimous decision against Mana Martinez, but there was some controversy. For his second straight match, ‘MSP’ was deducted a point for a foul (this was a shot to the groin). In his post-fight interview with Joe Rogan, he defended himself, saying he wasn’t a dirty fighter. Hopefully, Saaiman will be in more control of his weapons the next time we see him in the octagon. Ian Machado Garry recovered from an early knockdown to put away Kenan Song in the third and final round of their fight. “Future” picked “Assassin” apart, dropping him with several punches and finishing Song with ground and pound.
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Marc-André Barriault returned to the win column with a hairline of Julian Marquez for a second round TKO. After a somewhat slow start, ‘Powerbar’ went ahead and overwhelmed ‘Cuban Missile Crisis’ with punches and elbows before referee Mark Smith (finally) stepped in. . After the win, the Brazilian said she wanted to be “a bit ambitious” so she called for a top-five name in either strawweight or flyweight for her next appearance. Dricus Du Plessis catapulted into the top five of the UFC middleweight division with a second-round TKO of Derek Brunson. In a ‘Round of the Year’ contender, Du Plessis and Brunson traded blow after blow, but ‘Stilknocks’ did more damage. Cody Garbrandt closed out the ESPN qualifier with a unanimous decision against Trevin Jones. The former UFC bantamweight champion was more patient than usual, outmaneuvering Jones for most of the fight.
The main part of the card started with Bo Nickal making his UFC debut and submitting Jamie Pickett with a first round arm-triangle choke. The Contender Series alum immediately took down ‘Night Wolf’, advancing to the position securing the submission. Nickal set high goals for himself in his post-fight interview where he told Joe Rogan that he wants to be the UFC champion and the No. 1 pound-for-pound fighter. Mateusz Gamrot defeated Jalin Turner in a very competitive match, handing his opponent his first loss in three years. ‘Gamer’ admitted his performance wasn’t ‘good’ but won the split decision. Shavkat Rakhmonov improved to 17-0 after demoting Geoff Neal to our ‘Fight of the Night’ contender. Although he was rocked by the ‘Hands of Steel’, ‘Nomad’ bounced back and wrapped Neal in a standing naked choke. WOW! Rakhmonov also had a good post-fight interview, calling out Colby Covington or the winner of Leon Edwards vs. Kamaru Usman.
Alexa Grasso upset Valentina Shevchenko, submitting the former flyweight champion with a naked choke. After a failed spinning kick from ‘Bullet’ in the fourth round, Grasso jumped onto her back, went for the back naked choke and got the tap! Jon Jones made quick work of Cyril Gane, took down the “Bon Gamin” and got a guillotine choke in the first round. And we have a new UFC heavyweight champion.
Performance of the Night: Bo Nickal, Alexa Grasso and Jon Jones
Tabatha Ricci def. Jessica Penne by submission (armbar) at 2:14 of round 2
Ian Machado Gary op. Kenan Chant by TKO (punches) at 4:22 of Round 3
Marc-André Barriault def. Julian Marquez by TKO (punches, elbows) at 4:12 of Round 2
Dricus Du Plessis def. Derek Brunson by TKO (corner) at 4:59 of round 2
Bo Nickal def. Jamie Pickett by submission (arm-triangle) at 2:54 of Round 1
Shavkat Rakhmonov def. Geoff Neal by submission (standing rear naked choke) at 4:17 of Round 3
Alexa Grasso def. Valentina Shevchenko by submission (back naked choke) at 4:34 of Round 4
John Jones or. Ciryl Gane by submission (guillotine choke) at 2:04 of Round 1
Fight of the Night: Geoff Neal vs. Shavkat Rakhmonov
Loik Radzhabov def. Esteban Ribovics by unanimous decision (29-28 x3)
Farid Basarat op. Da’Mon Blackshear by unanimous decision (29-28 x3)
Cameron Saiman def. Mana Martinez by unanimous decision (29-26, 28-27, 28-28)
Amanda Ribas no. Vivian Araujo by unanimous decision (29-27, 30-26, 30-27)
Cody Garbrandt def. Trevin Jones by unanimous decision (29-28 x3)
Mateusz Gamrot def. Jalin Turner by split decision (29-28, 28-29, 30-27)