It’s been slightly over three years since the last time Jon Jones, once the dominant UFC light heavyweight champion, has stepped into the cage for an MMA fight. At UFC 285 on Saturday night, he’ll get a tough welcome home in the form of former interim heavyweight champion Ciryl Gane.
In the co-main event, flyweight champion Valentina Shevchenko defends her belt yet again, this time against rising contender Alexa Grasso at 125 pounds.
Before diving into a full analysis of the fights scheduled for UFC 285 on Saturday, let’s look at the best odds and offers from some of the major sportsbooks. Click on any of the odds below to navigate to the sportsbook with the best available price.
UFC 285 Odds For Entire Card
UFC 285 Main Card
Jon Jones () vs. Ciryl Gane ()
Valentina Shevchenko () vs. Alexa Grasso ()
Geoff Neal () vs. Shavkat Rakhmonov ()
Mateusz Gamrot () vs. Jalin Turner ()
Bo Nickal () vs. Jamie Pickett ()
UFC 285 Prelims
Cody Garbrandt () vs. Trevin Jones ()
Derek Brunson () vs. Dricus du Plessis ()
Viviane Araujo () vs. Amanda Ribas ()
Julian Marquez () vs. Marc-Andre Barriault ()
UFC 285 Early Prelims
Ian Garry () vs. Song Kenan ()
Cameron Saaiman () vs. Leomana Martinez ()
Jessica Penne () vs. Tabatha Ricci ()
Da’Mon Blackshear () vs. Farid Basharat ()
Esteban Ribovics () vs. Loik Radzhabov ()
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UFC 285 Main Event Preview
The last time we saw Jones fight, he looked like a somewhat uninspired light heavyweight only motivated to really put his foot on the gas once he thought he might actually lose his belt. Shortly thereafter, he announced that he’d relinquish that same belt to move up to heavyweight and claim a new one.
We don’t yet know what a heavyweight version of Jones looks like inside the cage. Will the added bulk slow him down or sap the dynamic creativity that once made him so great? Will it turn him into more of wrestling-first bulldozer, forcing him back to his roots in a nylon singlet? Does he continue to trust the solid chin that’s never failed him yet, only to learn the hard way that the big boys hit a lot harder?
The other big question, of course, is to what degree Father Time will have chipped away at Jones. He is 35 now, and we know he hasn’t exactly treated his body as a temple all the time. It’s entirely possible that he’ll show up in a new weight class three years after his last fight only to discover that his athletic prime is somewhere in the rearview mirror.
That said, stylistically he has some things going for him here. Gane is a dangerous kickboxer, especially when opponents let him choose the range. He can stand on the outside and pick you apart for as long as you can stand it, and his footwork usually keeps him out of trouble. What he lacks is defensive wrestling, as we saw when Francis Ngannou used the most basic of takedowns to plant him on the mat and beat him on points.
Jones is a much, much better wrestler than Ngannou. If the size doesn’t prove to be a huge issue, you’d think he ought to be able to easily plant Gane on his back and feed him elbows at will. It’s just that any time spent not doing that could be extremely dangerous, and Gane really only needs to land one.
Read more about this fight as Ben dives into what Jon Jones’ lengthy layoff means.
If Jones hasn’t lost too much of his timing or his overall athleticism in the years away, and if he comes in with the right game plan, he ought to be able to exploit Gane’s glaring weaknesses and put his own terrifying ground-and-pound to work. For those reasons alone, he deserves favorite status. Gane must prove that he’s improved his wrestling – by a lot, and it’s not always an easy gap to close – or else he’s going to have to catch Jones on the way in early.
Main Event Round Betting
Main Event Method of Victory Odds
UFC 285 Co-Main Event Preview
Valentina Shevchenko seemed almost unbeatable as champ – until her last fight. Taila Santos gave her a scare and Shevchenko held onto the belt by the skin of her teeth. What we don’t know yet is whether it was just one bad night or the first signs of a growing vulnerability.
Still, Alexa Grasso is the kind of fighter Shevchenko should beat. There’s nothing that she does well enough in any one area that ought to surprise Shevchenko, who is usually strong everywhere.
As long as age and/or the wear and tear of being champion all this time isn’t finally starting to erode Shevchenko’s skills, there’s a good chance she’s still champion on Sunday morning. Grasso isn’t someone to be taken lightly, but neither is she the most severe threat to Shevchenko’s title.
Co-Main Event Round Betting
Co-Main Event Method of Victory Odds
Other Main Card Bouts
Geoff Neal vs. Shavkat Rakhmonov
At 16-0, Rakhmonov is clearly very, very good. This current phase of his career seems to be where UFC matchmakers are trying to gradually find out how good. Neal represents a slight step up from the competition Rakhmonov has been facing, but not a huge one. If Rakhmonov is who he says he is, chances are he controls Neal and wins this fight. We have yet to even really see him struggle in the UFC. But if there are holes in his game, Neal is the kind of fighter who might find them. First he’s going to have to stay off his back, though.
Mateusz Gamrot vs. Jalin Turner
Turner has been hot lately, putting together five straight wins in a division where wins don’t come easy. But what we’ve seen of Gamrot so far suggests he’s of a different caliber from most of the guys Turner has beaten. This is a level-up fight for Turner in that sense. He needs to use his height and range to keep Gamrot where he wants him, but that’s going to mean shutting down some takedowns – without ending up stuck on defense the whole time.
Bo Nickal vs. Jamie Pickett
In case you haven’t noticed, the UFC is very excited about Nickal. The NCAA wrestling champ barely got a chance to get his feet wet in MMA before the UFC sank their hooks into him. Now that he’s getting his first real UFC fight, the promotion doesn’t seem to want to risk overmatching him. Pickett was selected purely to fill the role of opponent. Could he shock us all by finding a way to win? Sure. Nickal is still new enough in the sport to make a mistake here or there. But it’ll probably have to be a perfect punch or knee on the takedown entry. Otherwise, Nickal will steamroll him.
Prelim Prop Bet Options
If you’re the type who likes the “fight will go to decision” props, take a hard look at the Viviane Araujo vs. Amanda Ribas bout (-210). Two evenly matched flyweights, both of whom tend to see the scorecards when they don’t enjoy a major advantage over their opponents.
A fights likely to go the distance here is Dricus Du Plessis vs. Derek Brunson (-220 to end in finish). Neither of these guys is known for fighting like they’re saving anything for later. Du Plessis deserves to be the favorite, but you won’t get more than small plus odds picking him to win by TKO/KO (+132).
How to Watch UFC 285
- Early prelims on ESPN+/UFC Fight Pass, 5:30 p.m. ET
- Prelims on ESPN/ESPN+, 8 p.m. ET
- Main card on ESPN+/PPV, 10 p.m. ET