Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) returns to pay-per-view (PPV) streaming later TONIGHT (Sat., March 4, 2023) with one of the most anticipated title fights of the year, as UFC 285 plays host to Jon Jones’ long-waited return to challenge Ciryl Gane for the vacant Heavyweight title. Co-headlining the event will be Valentina Schevchenko defending her women's Flyweight title against Alexa Grasso.
TLDR: How To Watch/Stream UFC 285
Start Time (United States)
- ESPN+ PPV main card: 10 p.m. ET / 7 p.m. PT start on ESPN+ (order it here).
- “Prelims” undercard (late): 8 p.m. ET / 5 p.m. PT start, streaming online via ESPN+ and simulcast on ESPN in the United States.
- “Prelims” undercard (early): 5:30 p.m. ET / 3:30 p.m. PT start, streaming online via ESPN+ and simulcast on Fight Pass in the United States.
It’s been a little more than three years since Jones last stepped foot inside the Octagon, but the greatest Light Heavyweight champion in mixed martial arts (MMA) history will return later this evening to make his long-awaited Heavyweight debut. And it’s far from an easy task because he will be facing off against a hulking big man in Gane, a former interim roost-ruler who has undisputed championship aspirations of his own.
There really isn’t much that needs to be said about Jones — his history, accolades and dominance inside the Octagon speak for themselves. But, just in case you need a refresher course I highly recommend you read this in-depth piece here. The big thing everyone will be looking at, of course, is just how different “Bones” will look with more than 40 pounds of added weight to his frame after such a long layoff. Plus, he is no longer fighting under the tutelage of Jackson-Wink, the famed camp that helped bring him up from obscurity to the megastar he is today. That said, he is training with some of his old coaches, but Greg Jackson and Mike Winkeljohn are not in the mix. At the end of the day, while an old dog can learn new tricks, Jones has always been a student of the sport, well-versed in everything he needs to do so a change in camp won’t be a factor in the fight (right?). Weight, however, is the main thing. Jones is adamant he is still as quick as he was when he was fighting at 205 pounds, but some fans are worried after seeing this video.
Against Gane, he will likely be quicker, but the towering Frenchman is far from a sloth, as he is very light on his feet for a man his size. He also has some of the best striking in the game. His weakness, however, was exposed against Francis Ngannou, who actually defeated him with his wrestling. If that’s the game that is played tonight then “Bones” has a great chance. Sure, this fight may not be as sexy as one between “Bones” and “The Predator” would have been, but it’s still very tasty. And, if we are being honest, it’s Jones’ best chance at winning 265-pound gold. Jones wasn’t at the top of his game in his previous two or three fights, but he is now refreshed, hungry and determined to reclaim the pound-for-pound crown. Gane, though, wants to be the first man to officially defeat Jones, and the power he possesses gives him a darn good chance of getting it done.
There isn’t much to complain about here. The card is well-rounded from top to bottom that will make it hard-pressed for anyone to find something wrong with it. Two title fights, the return of Jones, a loaded “Prelims” lineup ... what’s not to like?
Original Card Vs. Actual Card:
Kamuela Kirk withdrew from his 155-pound fight against Esteban Ribovics for undisclosed reasons and was replaced by Loik Radzhabov.
Julio Arce suffered a knee injury and was forced out of his 135-pound strap against Cody Garbrandt. He was eventually replaced by Trevin Jones. Dan Hooker suffered a hand injury and was forced to withdraw from his fight against Jalin Turner. He was replaced Mateusz Gamrot, who is hungry for a win after he had his four-fight win streak snapped in his previous bout against Beneil Dariush. Turner, meanwhile, is on a five-fight win streak and is on the verge of inching closer to the Top 5. Indeed, a win over Gamrot would go a long way in helping that cause.
After back-to-back wins on Contender Series, Bo Nickal will finally get his chance to make his official UFC debut on the main card of one of the biggest PPV events of the young year. Nickal has steamrolled the competition thus far in his blossoming MMA career thanks to his exceptional wrestling. He is matched up against Jamie Pickett, a six-fight UFC veteran who hasn’t exactly been lighting it up, going 2-4 so far inside the Octagon, which includes back-to-back losses. Is it the best booking for Nickal in his UFC debut? Name-wise, probably not; however, it’s a good start because he’ll be facing an established veteran who is obviously struggling, giving Nickal a good chance to make a huge impression in his debut.
Loik Radzhabov agreed to step in and accept a short-notice fight against Esteban Ribovics, another Octagon newcomer. Radzhabov is a former long-time Professional Fighters League (PFL) veteran, racking up a 4-4-1 record during his run with the promotion. As for Ribovics, he is undefeated (11-0), scoring a finish in all of his fights (five in the first round). His win over Thomas Paull on Contender Series punched his ticket to the big show and had a chance to make a splash from the jump.
Farid Basharat is another Contender Series alum with a mint record (9-0), and now the brawling Brit is ready to make a name for himself on the biggest combat stage in the world when he battles Da’Mon Blackshear, who fought to a draw against Youseff Zalal in his own UFC debut back in late 2022, so he is looking for a big win, too.
How The ‘Prelims’ Look:
In women’s Strawweight action, Tabatha Ricci and Jessica Penne collide in a battle of two fighters going in opposite directions. Ricci is 2-1 so far in her UFC career and is 7-1 overall. As for Penne, she is 2-4 in her last six fights and is coming off a loss to Emily Ducote.
Cameron Saaiman will attempt to remain undefeated, going for consecutive win No. 8 little more than three years after turning pro. Saaiman made a splash in his UFC debut, stopping Steven Koslow via technical knockout. He will square off against Mana Martinez, who is 2-1 so far in his UFC career and 4-1 in his last five fights. With eight victories coming by stoppage via strikes, Martinez is all-go with no brakes.
Rising star, Ian Machado-Garry, looks to go 4-0 in his UFC career after a blistering start that saw him earn three straight wins inside the Octagon in eight months. Garry has all the raw talent to be one of UFC’s big stars one day and if he keeps winning (he is currently 10-0) he can become a face of the promotion someday. Of course, he has a long way to go, and he has another stiff test ahead of him in the form of Kennan Song, who is 4-2 inside the Octagon. Song may not get a lot of public relations love, but he is a tough draw for Garry here and it’s one of those sneaky fights the could steal the show.
Julian Marquez has finally got past blowing his shot with Miley Cyrus, so now that it is all behind him he can focus on getting back on the winning track. He is coming off a first round knockout loss to Gregory Rodrigues and will face another man in search of a win in Marc-Andre Barriault, who was choked out by Anthony Hernandez in Sept. 2022.
Amanda Ribas started her career red-hot with four straight wins, which included taking out Mackenzie Dern and Paige VanZant, but has since gone 1-2, cooling her momentum considerably. Her opponent, Viviane Araujo, is simply trying to find some consistency because she has alternated wins and losses since Jan. 2021. She is coming off a loss to Alexa Grasso, so I am sure it must sting — or serve as motivation — to see her former foe fighting for the title in the co-main event.
Derek Brunson was making his way toward a possible title shot after reeling off five straight victories from May 2019 to Sept. 2021, including taking out Darren Till and Kevin Holland. But, his roll was slowed by Jared Cannonier, who knocked him out at UFC 271. Now, the brawling bruiser looks to start another run, though it’s far from an easy task to climb the ranks at 185 pounds. He will battle Dricus Du Plessis, who is on a six-fight win streak, including four straight inside the Octagon. He was last seen cranking Darren Till’s face into submission and he now eyes a spot in the Top 5 with another big win.
Who Needs A Win Badly:
Cody Garbrandt was at one time sitting at the top of the Bantamweight mountain, starting off his MMA career at 11-0 and then defeating Dominick Cruz to win the 135-pound strap in Dec. 2016. Since then, it’s been all downhill. “No Love” suffered three straight knockout defeats following his championship win, knocked out Raphael Assuncao and then went on to lose another two straight. To hear Garbrandt tell it, he has been going through some things over the last few years, which includes a divorce. But, 15 months removed from his last defeat at the hands Kai Kara-France, Garbrandt returns to face Trevin Jones who, let’s face it, hasn’t been on fire, either, losing three in a row. Both men are in desperate need of a win here because the loser could very well earn his walking papers.
Interest Level: 9.5/10
I mean come on, it’s the return of Jon Jones and his debut at 265 pounds, how can you not be excited for this? And to make it even sweeter, it is surrounded by some great PPV main card fights, including the return of Valentina Shevchenko, who will defend her strap against Mexican-born star, Alexa Grasso.
Shevchenko has been dominating the women's Flyweight division going on five years now, securing seven consecutive title defenses on her way to making her own claim for the G.O.A.T of women’s MMA. She has more consecutive UFC title defenses in a single division than Cris Cyborg (2), Ronda Rousey (6), Joanna Jedrzejczyk (5) and Amanda Nunes (6). “Bullet” has no plans in slowing down and now eyes to extend her title defense streak to eight.
Grasso, meanwhile, worked her way up to a title shot after four straight wins. Grasso isn’t exactly a specialist in one specific area, though she does have four submissions and one knockout to her credit. All that said, if she chooses to stand with Shevchenko it likely won’t end well for her because “Bullet” is an ace when it comes to striking battles. I honestly don’t see where Grasso can hurt Shevchenko, so she will have to be on her “A” game — and then some — to get the job done.
It feels like ages since we’ve seen Shavkat Rakhmonov compete, with his last fight taking place in June 2022. But, now that he is back, he is ready to remind everyone just how dangerous he is. “Nomad” is 4-0 inside the Octagon and 16-0 overall as a professional with eight submissions and eight knockouts on his resume. That’s what you call balance. And it’s a perfect description of him — he’s well-rounded and can get the job done anywhere. His wrestling is outstanding and his smothering pace will cause anyone problems. Geoff Neal, on the other hand, is a legit problem for anyone and is currently riding a two-fight win streak, taking out Vicente Luque and Santiago Ponzinibbio during his recent run. Neal started off on the wrong foot after coming in four pounds heavy, which will cost him not only a huge chunk of his purse, but will prevent him from winning any post-fight bonus awards. A win, however, will boost his stock and set him up for bigger paydays moving forward.
Enjoy the fights!
Full UFC 285 Fight Card:
UFC 285 PPV Main Event On ESPN+:
265 lbs.: Jon Jones vs. Ciryl Gane for vacant heavyweight title
UFC 285 PPV Main Card On ESPN+ (10 p.m. ET):
125 lbs.: UFC Flyweight Champion Valentina Shevchenko vs. Alexa Grasso
170 lbs.: Geoff Neal vs. Shavkat Rakhmonov
155 lbs.: Jalin Turner vs. Mateusz Gamrot
185 lbs.: Bo Nickal vs. Jamie Pickett
UFC 285 Prelims Card On ESPNN/ESPN+ (8 p.m. ET):
135 lbs.: Cody Garbrandt vs. Trevin Jones
185 lbs.: Derek Brunson vs. Dricus Du Plessis
125 lbs.: Viviane Araujo vs. Amanda Ribas
185 lbs.: Marc-Andre Barriault vs. Julian Marquez
UFC 285 Early ‘Prelims’ Card On ESPN+ (5:30 p.m. ET):
170 lbs.: Ian Garry vs. Song Kenan
135 lbs.: Mana Martinez vs. Cameron Saaiman
115 lbs.: Jessica Penne vs. Tabatha Ricci
135 lbs.: Farid Basharat vs. Da’Mon Blackshear
155 lbs.: Kamuela Kirk vs. Esteban Ribovics
*Fight card, bout order and number of fights remain subject to change.*
Remember that MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC 285 fight card right here, starting with the early ESPN+ “Prelims” matches online, which are scheduled to begin at 5:30 p.m. ET, then the remaining undercard on ESPN/ESPN+ at 8 p.m. ET, before the PPV main card start time at 10 p.m. ET on ESPN+ PPV.
To check out the latest and greatest UFC 285: “Jones vs. Gane” news and notes be sure to hit up our comprehensive event archive right here.