UFC 285: Quick picks and prognostications
MMA Junkie analyst Dan Tom breaks down the UFC’s top bouts. Today, we look at the main card for UFC 285.
UFC 285 takes place Saturday at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. The main card airs on pay-per-view following prelims on ESPN and early prelims on ESPN+.
Last event’s results: 3-1
Overall picks for UFC main cards in 2023: 14-13-2
Welcome to MMAJunkie’s Quick Picks and Prognostications, where I’ll be giving brief, fight-day breakdowns for UFC main cards.
With that in mind, I hope these write-ups don’t come off as curt or dismissive, as my goal here is to offer quick picks and analysis in a digestible format. All odds listed are provided by Tipico Sportsbook.
If you’d like more detailed analysis from me, then feel free to check out my weekly show, The Protect Ya’ Neck Podcast.
So, without further ado…
Bo Nickal (-2000) vs. Jamie Pickett (+950)
The main card kicks off with a middleweight attraction between [autotag]Bo Nickal[/autotag] and [autotag]Jamie Pickett[/autotag].
Despite Nickal only having three pro fights to his name, the hype behind the three-time Division 1 national champion has earned him yet another opportunity to showcase his skills.
Both men fight out of the southpaw stance, but Pickett is the only one with experience opposite UFC-level lefties (currently standing at 0-4).
Even though I don’t want to discount the Brazilian jiu-jitsu brown belt in Pickett, his defensive tendencies and propensity to turtle will likely get him rag-dolled and submitted by Nickal in the first round.
Mateusz Gamrot (-210) vs. Jailin Turner (+170)
Filling out the main card is a fun lightweight affair between [autotag]Mateusz Gamrot[/autotag] and [autotag]Jailin Turner[/autotag].
Despite stepping in on roughly two weeks’ notice, Gamrot’s consistent wrestling attacks appear to have earned him the status of the betting favorite opposite Turner.
Although I’ve been leaning toward Gamrot all week, I can’t shake the image of Turner countering his jabs and kicking him from Jump Street.
Couple that with the fact that Gamrot has only lost to southpaws or when taking fights on short notice, and I’ll reluctantly take Turner to score the upset via a second-round stoppage.
Geoff Neal (+390) vs. Shavkat Rakhmonov (-525)
Serving as a solid addition to the card is a potential welterweight war between [autotag]Geoff Neal[/autotag] and [autotag]Shavkat Rakhmonov[/autotag].
Despite the betting line above being wide for some, I can understand the spread given the skills of Rakhmonov.
Not only does he garner hype as an undefeated fighter, but Rakhmonov appears to be an unflinching offensive machine with impeccable proprioception and accuracy in tow.
Add in the fact that Neal missed weight for this fight, and I’ll pick Rakhmonov to spark off a finish from a spinning body kick come the second round.
Valentina Shevchenko (-800) vs. Alexa Grasso (+550)
Kyrgyzstan’s mixed martial arts fighter Valentina Shevchenko (L) and Mexico’s mixed martial arts fighter Alexa Grasso (R) face off as President of Ultimate Fighting Championship Dana White (C) looks on during their ceremonial weigh-in in the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) 285 mixed martial arts event at the MGM Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada on March 3, 2023. (Photo by Patrick T. Fallon / AFP) (Photo by PATRICK T. FALLON/AFP via Getty Images)
The co-main features a flyweight title fight between [autotag]Valentina Shevchenko[/autotag] and [autotag]Alexa Grasso[/autotag].
As stated in my co-main event breakdown, I suspect that southpaw kickers could be a bad stylistic fit for Grasso (who is officially 0-1 opposite UFC-level lefties).
Unless Shevchenko gets over-aggressive when going for takedowns and gives her back, then I see the sitting champion retaining her title by forcing a stoppage in the second round from the crucifix position.
Jon Jones (-175) vs. Ciryl Gane (+150)
US mixed martial arts fighter Jon Jones (L) and French mixed martial arts fighter Ciryl Gane (R) face off during the ceremonial weigh-in ahead of their UFC 285 heavyweight title bout at the MGM Garden Arena, in Las Vegas, Nevada on March 3, 2023. – Jones will fight Ciryl Gane of France for the title on March 4. (Photo by Patrick T. Fallon / AFP) (Photo by PATRICK T. FALLON/AFP via Getty Images)
The main event for UFC 285 features the return of [autotag]Jon Jones[/autotag], who is moving up to heavyweight to challenge [autotag]Ciryl Gane[/autotag] for the organization’s vacant title.
I often reference Makhachev in relation to wrist controls, but Jon Jones has been popularizing hand fighting for some time.
Hand traps to elbows, overhooks that parlay into wrist-feeds (which setup elbows, knees and shoulder strikes), defensive wrist pins that open up takedowns: pic.twitter.com/bBgcDxP5Jm
— Dan Tom (@DanTomMMA) March 1, 2023
There are so many angles to cover for this fight, as I did my best to lay out everything from stylistic context to statistics in my in-depth breakdown.
Although it would be much easier to pick Jones to wrestle and call it a day, I don’t know how much I can rely on him to consistently do that at this stage of his career. I won’t be surprised to see Jones wrestle and possibly win early, but there are ultimately too many unknowns to confidently pick him at this weight class against an athletic southpaw who can counter kicks.
🪡: #TheSouthpawReport for #UFC285 (will add to this thread as the week goes on)
• Ciryl Gane is listed as orthodox but he primarily fights southpaw with a dynamic rear kick that variates targets. Jon Jones is officially 5-0 opposite UFC SPs, but kicks from SP have had success: pic.twitter.com/TkKAeVmIbH
— Dan Tom (@DanTomMMA) March 1, 2023
Whether it stems from a body kick or a leg injury, I’ll take a flier on Gane to survive the early grappling scares and find a finish by round four.
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