UFC 285: Five Things We Learned
History was made at UFC 285 as Jon Jones was able to win the UFC heavyweight title against Ciryl Gane to become a two-division champion. Plus, Alexa Grasso pulled off the upset and dethrone women’s flyweight champion, Valentina Shevchenko. Needless to say, UFC 285 left us with a lot of lessons to recap.
Jon Jones is the undisputed GOAT
The discussion is over, Jon Jones is the GOAT of MMA and it is not even a discussion. Prior to the event, I wrote a piece saying Jones would be the undisputed GOAT with a win. Not only did he win, but he won in a dominant fashion. Jones winning the heavyweight belt in less than a round against Gane cements his legacy.
The only question surrounding Jones’ legacy is how much he can add to his resume before retiring. A bout against Stipe Miocic is a good first step in growing his resume to an otherworldly level. It is safe to say that Jones’ future will be must-watch television.
Ciryl Gane has to improve his wrestling
Man, Gane had the opportunity of a lifetime at UFC 285 and the massive gap in his wrestling defense prevented him from having a chance. That isn’t the first time either. Francis Ngannou was able to get the best of him in the grappling department, too.
After Jones ran through him, the issue looks even worse than it did against Ngannou, as we saw no tangible improvements between the two fights.
If Gane cannot improve his takedown defense, he will seriously struggle through the rest of his career. I mean, can you imagine what Curtis Blaydes does against Gane? Tom Aspinall would probably take him down and beat him, too. Let’s not forget about how bad of a matchup elite prospect Jailton Almeida is.
I take no enjoyment in forecasting the struggles that Gane could face in the near future. If he can duck grapplers, he can beat most of the strikers in the division. That will not win you a heavyweight belt though.
Alexa Grasso steals the women’s flyweight belt
Grasso pulled off a massive upset as she landed a rear-naked choke in the fourth round to win the women’s flyweight title and dethrone Valentina Shevchenko. Grasso is now the third Mexican-born UFC champion and the first woman to complete the feat.
This win will go down in history regardless of how the remainder of Grasso’s career goes. Shevchenko is by far the greatest women’s flyweight in history and was seven title defenses into her career. Grasso was the one to end that title reign.
Now, I do not want to tear Grasso down after the best win of her life, but it is noteworthy that she was losing that fight.
I thought she looked good on the feet. Her boxing was looking good; however, she was being taken down repeatedly. I would give Grasso the first round, but that is about it. I am not sure how long she can hold the belt with her lack of takedown defense. With that being said, she has a nice rear-naked choke so I will give her credit there.
Valentina Shevchenko is no longer perfect
At one point in her career, Shevchenko looked perfect. That perfection is long gone at this point, though.
To start, Shevchenko looked flawed in her fight against Taila Santos at UFC 275. In fairness, Santos should have gotten the nod from the judges in that fight. After that fight, it was reasonable to think Shevchenko could bounce back. That was not the case though. Shevchenko looked flawed once again, but Grasso was able to find the finish this time around.
Against Grasso, we saw Shevchenko throw an ill-advised spinning kick which allowed her to get her back taken and eventually finished. Additionally, Grasso was landing a lot of really solid punches. Meanwhile, Santos was able to land takedowns and control her on the ground.
At this point, Shevchenko looks like a flawed fighter. At 34 years old, it will be interesting to see if Shevchenko can regain her top form.
Shavkat Rakhmonov is a serious contender
Coming into UFC 285 Shavkat Rakhmonov was one of the best prospects in the sport, but he was relatively unknown in comparison to other elite prospects. That all changed at UFC 285, though.
Rakhmonov picked up a nasty standing rear-naked choke against Geoff Neal in a tremendous fight. This performance sent Rakhmonov stock through the roof. After that performance, it is safe to say Rakhmonov has graduated from prospect status and is now a contender.
The most impressive part about Rakhmonov’s performance is that he outstruck Neal. That was the best Rakhmonov’s striking has looked and he did it against an outstanding boxer. Not to mention, he has some really great grappling in his back pocket too.
The only concern I have for Rakhmonov is that he gets hit a little too much for my liking and he will keep his hands down a lot. Other than that, he is tremendous. At 28 years old, he has a long future ahead of him too.
I doubt that Rakhmonov gets a title fight next. That is fine with me though. The idea of seeing Rakhmonov fight Colby Covington, Belal Muhammad, Gilbert Burns, or any other top welterweight is intriguing. If he gets one more win he will be title-shot-bound.