This past weekend, UFC 285 took place at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas for what will finish the year as one of the biggest MMA events of 2023. Headlining the card was the returning Jon Jones against former interim heavyweight champion, Ciryl Gane.
Of course this was Jon Jones’ first fight at heavyweight, as well as it being his first fight in three years. Ciryl Gane was coming in off the back of his huge win against Tai Tuivasa, in Paris.
Let’s take a look at what could be next for the winners of the monumental show.
There are no words left in language to describe the aura and presence of Jon Jones, the greatest fighter of all time.
Coming into his return, there has been a new era of fans that had the pleasure of watching him live for the first time. And to make it even more impressive, despite his dominance over Ciryl Gane, he didn’t get out of first gear. After a three year long layoff, Jones came in and looked like he hadn’t taken a single night off.
Jones’ impressiveness has led to a large majority of fans coming to an agreement that he is undoubtedly the greatest fighter to ever live.
The 35-year-old was as present as ever during fight week, and was exuding an energy that has been refreshing to see of the former light heavyweight champion.
Jones’ first title defence looks as though it has already been set, and his opponent will be the greatest UFC heavyweight of all time, Stipe Miocic. The latter has been away from action since 2021 when he last fought Francis Ngannou, and has been waiting for the next title shot to become available. Miocic’s patience will pay off though, when the two undoubtedly lock horns on International Fight Week at the beginning of July.
Jones’ Next Fight: Stipe Miocic
At UFC 285, 29-year-old Alexa Grasso became the third champion this year to hail from Mexico. Grasso also pulled off one of the biggest upsets in title fight history.
Coming into the fight, Grasso’s betting line settled at around +575, outlining the general consensus of betting MMA fans. None of that mattered though come Saturday night, and Alexa Grasso took the fight to the dominant former champion, Shevchenko, from the very first bell.
Valentina began the fight the more composed and passive of the two, looking to land her best shots off the counter. Grasso though wasn’t taking a step backwards and on several occasions, found home with her powerful left hand. This caused Shevchenko to adjust her game-plan by trying to get her wrestling game going. After a bit of success, she found herself slightly up going into the fourth round.
Despite that, Grasso kept to her game plan and her persistence once again started to pay off. After a successful three minutes of round four, Grasso could feel the tide turning in the fight. With just over a minute left of the fight, Shevchenko threw a spinning back kick, but Grasso’s concentration and poise allowed her to swiftly take the back of Valentina. Just moments later, she would hear “And New” from Bruce Buffer.
The two are undoubtedly going to run it back immediately due to Valentina’s dominance for several years, but Grasso has shown she can cause the former champion a whole lot of problems.
Grasso’s Next Fight: Valentina Shevchenko
Once again, Kazakh native Rakhmonov showed why he is one of the most feared and avoided fighters on the planet.
With his fight with Geoff Neal being Rakhmonov’s toughest test so far, we knew we were going to learn a lot about the soaring prospect. What we did learn in fact, was that he is probably ready for a title fight whenever the UFC sees fit.
After a completely well-rounded performance over the extremely hard-hitting Neal, he took his opportunity to call out Colby Covington. That though is a fight I doubt Covington is itching for.
Despite that, Covington is going to have to fight someone and with him being a high ranked welterweight, Shavkat may be the one he has to fight. That is a fight I would absolutely love to see. If Colby does refuse that fight though, unfortunately for Belal Muhammad he may have to fight Shavkat in a number one contender’s fight.
Rakhmonov’s Next Fight: Colby Covington
With Dan Hooker pulling out of his scheduled fight with Jalin Turner just a few weeks prior, it was always going to take someone game to step up to take on the puzzle of “The Tarantula.” It’s a good job Gamrot’s nickname is “Gamer” then, because they don’t come more game than the Pole.
The 32-year-old got his wrestling game going early on, and did a good job to land damaging shots from top control whilst also controlling the fight for over six minutes. With him taking the chance on late notice and defending his higher ranking, he should be rewarded.
Dustin Poirier is one of the only top lightweights who hasn’t got a fight booked. I’d personally like to see Poirier defend his rank against the Polish contender. If Poirier was to decline the offer, Gamrot against the loser of Fiziev vs. Gaethje would make the next most sense.
Gamrot’s Next Fight: Dustin Poirier or loser of Fiziev vs. Gaethje
The most decorated college wrestler of all time finally made his long awaited UFC debut this past weekend against Jamie Pickett. The fact that the debutant was opening up the main card of one of the biggest events this year tells you all you need to know about how the UFC see’s Bo Nickal’s future going.
As expected, Nickal completely breezed passed Jamie Pickett, despite Pickett complaining after the fight about a low blow leading up to the takedown that led to the submission.
It will be interesting to see how fast the UFC decide to push Bo Nickal as many people think he could fight champ Alex Pereira next and likely win.
If the UFC want to push Nickal slowly then maybe Jacob Malkoun could make sense. Or maybe even someone of the ilk of Joaquin Buckley.
Nickal’s Next Fight: Jacob Malkoun or Joaquin Buckley