UFC 285 delivered! The heavyweight headliner saw the successful return of a former champ, and the flyweight co-headliner ended in a massive upset.
The preliminary portion of the card started with an all-action affair between promotional newcomers Loik Radzhabov and Esteban Ribovics. Both fighters had several near-fight-ending moments, but Radzhabov secured the win with a mix of his striking and wrestling. Farid Basharat earned a unanimous decision against Da’Mon Blackshear. ‘Ferocious’ turned in a well-rounded performance, which was enough to sweep the judges’ scorecards. Tabatha Ricci gave us our first finish of the night with a second-round submission of Jessica Penne. ‘Baby Shark’ got Penne to the ground, transitioned into the armbar and got the tap. Impressive performance from Ricci. Cameron Saaiman added another win to his résumé with a unanimous decision against Mana Martinez, but there was some controversy. For his second straight fight, ‘MSP’ had a point deducted for a foul (this one was a groin shot). In his post-fight interview with Joe Rogan, he defended himself, saying he was not a dirty fighter. Hopefully Saaiman will have more control of his weapons the next time we see him in the Octagon. Ian Machado Garry recovered from an early knockdown to put Kenan Song away in the third and final round of their fight. The ‘Future’ picked the ‘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 mauling of Julian Marquez for a second-round TKO. After somewhat of a slow start, the ‘Powerbar’ moved forward and overwhelmed the ‘Cuban Missile Crisis’ with punches and elbows before referee Mark Smith (finally) stepped in. Amanda Ribas scored a knockdown and dominated Viviane Araújo en route to a unanimous decision. After the win, the Brazilian said she wanted to be ‘a little ambitious,’ so she requested a top-five name at either strawweight or flyweight for her next appearance. Dricus Du Plessis launched himself 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 ’Stillknocks’ did more damage. Cody Garbrandt closed the ESPN prelims with a unanimous decision against Trevin Jones. The former UFC bantamweight champion was more patient than usual, outstriking and outwrestling Jones for the majority of the fight.
The main portion of the card kicked off with Bo Nickal breezing through his UFC debut and submitting Jamie Pickett with a first-round arm-triangle choke. The Contender Series alum got the ‘Night Wolf’ down immediately, moving into position securing the submission. Nickal set some lofty goals for himself in his post-fight interview, where he told Joe Rogan he wants to be a UFC champion and the No. 1 pound-for-pound fighter. Mateusz Gamrot bested Jalin Turner in a very competitive fight, handing his opponent his first loss in three years. The ‘Gamer’ admitted his performance was ‘not good,’ but won the split decision. Shavkat Rakhmonov improved to 17-0 after subbing Geoff Neal in our candidate for ‘Fight of the Night’. Though he got wobbled by ‘Hands of Steel,’ the ‘Nomad’ bounced back and wrapped Neal up in a standing rear-naked choke. WOW! Rakhmonov had a solid post-fight interview, too, calling out Colby Covington or the winner of Leon Edwards vs. Kamaru Usman.
Alexa Grasso upset Valentina Shevchenko, submitting the former flyweight champion by rear-naked choke. After a failed spinning kick from the ‘Bullet’ in the fourth round, Grasso hopped on her back, went for the rear-naked choke and got the tap! Jon Jones made quick work of Ciryl Gane, taking ‘Bon Gamin’ down and getting 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 Garry def. Song Kenan 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 throws in towel) 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 (rear-naked choke) at 4:34 of Round 4
Jon Jones def. 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 Basharat def. Da’Mon Blackshear by unanimous decision (29-28 x3)
Cameron Saaiman def. Mana Martinez by unanimous decision (29-26, 28-27, 28-28)
Amanda Ribas def. Viviane Araújo 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)