UFC 285 results, takeaways: Jon Jones secures his place in history, Alexa Grasso shocks the world

Saturday’s UFC 285 was the kind of event that is changing the future of the sport in more meaningful ways than your average UFC pay-per-view. And it’s debatable whether Jon Jones’ easy dominance of Ciryl Gane to become heavyweight champion or Alexa Grasso’s shocking submission of long-time flyweight champion Valentina Shevchenko was the more landscape-changing moment.

Fans have wondered about a Jones heavyweight run for more than a decade, and Saturday finally saw the moment when Jones took on a high-profile heavyweight in Gane. Jones’ greatness was on full display, and it took just over two minutes to knock Gane out and win a career-second division title.

Jones’ victory was a massive game changer in the heavyweight division and could spark big wins for the overall UFC business, but Grasso, who snatched the title from Shevchenko, was far more shocking. Shevchenko fell amid one of the greatest title reigns in UFC history to Grasso’s ability to pounce on a single miss and force submission.

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With that in mind, let’s take a look at some of the biggest takeaways to emerge from the wild fight map UFC 285.

Jones secures his place as GOAT

Like pound-for-pound debates, discussions of MMA’s “Greatest of All Time” are entirely subjective and there’s no way to convince anyone to agree with your opinion. Still, Jones secured his spot as MMA’s “GOAT” on Saturday night by not only finally making the move to heavyweight, but by making incredibly easy work of Gane, a proven and capable top-tier heavyweight.

Jones may already have been entitled to that status, with a resume littered with legends and elite lightweights, very few of whom could force Jones into a competitive fight until he seemed to lose interest in being at his best once he lapped the 205-pound field. We’ve all heard it for years, Jones’ biggest enemy is himself, as evidenced by his failed drug tests and run-ins with the law.

The long-awaited move to heavyweight wasn’t just something Jones needed for his legacy, it was just what Jones needed to ignite that old competitive fire.

While there has been much talk of just how dangerous an opponent Gane was, the reality is that a properly motivated Jones will always be a nightmare for someone with Gane’s grappling deficiencies. Still, the fight shouldn’t have been so easyexcept that Jones is the special.

Now a two-division champion with an 18-fight win streak at the sport’s top level — and his only career loss, a controversial disqualification in 2009 — it just feels like the debate is over.

Jon Jones is the UFC Heavyweight Champion. Jon Jones is the greatest of all time.

Grasso scores with a new breathtaking title detuning

The women’s divisions of the UFC typically produce incredible, long-reigning champions. But mixed martial arts is a fickle sport with so many paths to victory that it’s almost a guarantee that defeat will eventually find even the greatest fighters. You can add without hesitation Alexa Grasso’s booty submission by Valentina Shevchenko to add the women’s flyweight championship to the list of surprises, including Holly Holm kicking Ronda Rousey’s mind out, Rose Namajunas knocking out Joanna Jedrzejczyk, and Julianna Pena choking Amanda Nunes.

Grasso fought well in the first round but Shevchenko seemed to have downloaded the necessary information to turn the tables as the fight progressed. Shevchenko continued to use wrestling to dissuade Grasso from her preferred punching tools. But Grasso seized an opportunity for a split second, latched onto Shevchenko’s back after the champion missed a spinning kick, and immediately took the fight to the ground and used the choke, giving Shevchenko a nine-fight win streak, the seven successful titles involved defense.

Shevchenko will certainly give an immediate rematch, which will force Grasso to prove that the win was no fluke. Of the previously discussed women who ended the reign of dominant champions, only Namajunas won their first title defense.

No one can ever take away from her that Grasso shocked the world and she will forever be able to claim to have held UFC gold, but if she is to build a bigger legacy she must go out and defeat one of the greatest champions in UFC history everything again.

Rakhmonov passes the exam

The UFC 285 main card opened with several bouts, giving heavily hyped prospects a chance to shine on the big stage. Shavkat Rakhmonov was one of those men and he displayed the qualities that so many MMA fans are excited about his future in the Octagon his submission win over Geoff Neal.

To be clear, the fight was anything but easy for Rakhmonov. Neal was fully prepared to engage in a slugfest that saw both men clean, heavy shots. In the third round, Neal appeared to severely injure Rakhmonov even with a combo, forcing Rakhmonov to switch to grappler mode and pinning Neal to the cage until an opportunity to lock in a standing bulldog choke ended the fight.

These are the kind of struggles you hope a potential client will go through. They want an aspiring fighter to be pushed a little and need to respond to moments of adversity. And just like fans want to see, a fighter needs to know what they’re capable of in those moments. Rakhmonov has now been tested and has proven that in difficult situations he can find a way to adapt and end the fight.

Rakhmonov is now 17-0, with all 17 wins coming from a stoppage. Claiming he’s now ready to get into the title mix, he calls out Colby Covington to a No. 1 fight. A clash with Covington is a test of a far greater difficulty, but seeing Rakhmonov rise quickly through the ranks would be better than getting bogged down battling midfield contenders for the next few years.

A successful – but questionable – UFC debut for Nickal

Very few fighters have made their UFC debut with more hype than Bo Nickal. The decorated amateur wrestler flashed through his first three professional bouts – two of which came in Dana White’s Contender Series – and both some fans and Nickal himself claimed the 27-year-old was already fit to fight for a world championship.

The hype surrounding Nickal’s debut was so immense that some major American sportsbooks were offering lines as low as +175 that Nickal would defeat Jamie Pickett in the first minute of the fight. To be fair, before the first minute was up, Nickal was already fishing for a submission finish. That goal would come at the 2:54 mark of the opening round if Nickal was able to force the cock to an arm triangle choke.

There was just enough controversy to take some of the shine off Nickal’s win, with a clear low blow resulting in a takedown that went unnoticed by the referee. Given how central the takedown was to Nickal’s game plan, it’s understandable that Pickett’s manager is allegedly planned to appeal the loss because the foul changed the course of the fight.

Still, it’s hard to imagine the fight being overturned and a rematch with Pickett is a waste of time for everyone involved. As unfair as it may be, we hope both men just move on to the next step in their careers.

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