UFC President Dana White was in a giving mood following UFC 285, and Geoff Neal was on the receiving end of that.
Neal’s ultimately losing effort against Shavkat Rakhmonov was a lock for Fight of the Night, but given he had missed weight, “Hands of Steel” would normally not be eligible for any bonus money. However, White wasn’t about to stiff Neal after a gutsy performance that wound up with him choked out on his feet in the third round.
“I don’t give a sh*t. I’m paying him anyway,” White told media outlets including Cageside Press during Saturday’s post-fight press conference at the T-Mobile Arena.
In addition to Rakhmonov vs. Neal picking up Fight of the Night, three Performance of the Night bonuses were handed out at UFC 285. Those went to Jon Jones, Alexa Grasso, and the debuting Bo Nickal.
Nickal, a multi-time NCAA Division I wrestling champ, made short work of Jamie Pickett, locking in an arm-triangle choke early. Grasso, meanwhile, stunned long-time flyweight champion Valentina Shevchenko in their co-main event. The Mexcian flyweight had an edge on the feet, but early on, Shevchenko was dominant on the ground. That changed in the fourth when Shevchenko gave up her back, allowing Grasso to capitalize with a rear-naked choke.
It was Jon Jones, however, who was the clear star of the night. Jones returned from three years out of the sport to submit Ciryl Gane with ease. The finish came inside of a round, with Gane offering little to no offense. Jones captured the UFC’s vacant heavyweight championship in the process, and now has a date with Stipe Miocic lined up next.