After beginning the pay-per-view year with a pair of events abroad, the UFC returned home to T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas on Saturday night with the best fight card of the year thus far.
UFC 285 featured 14 compelling matchups across seven divisions, culminating in championship battles at flyweight and heavyweight, and from the jump, the action was electric.
New names made statements, new contenders emerged, and new champions were crowned; here’s a look at how it all went down.
Loik Radzhabov defeats Esteban Ribovics by unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
Newcomers Loik Radzhabov and Esteban Ribovics opened up the show with a tremendous back-and-forth in the lightweight division.
Radzhabov came out firing to start, dropping Ribovics with the first right hand he threw and wobbling him again later in the opening round before turning to his wrestling. Things were progressing the same way in the second until Ribovics dug a clean shot to the body, following with a right hand to the jaw that put Radzhabov on shaky footing.
In the third, Radzhabov opened up with more power shots, and while Ribovics was able to weather the shots, he continued to get taken down. Even when he had Radzhabov hurt late in the third, Ribovics was unable to capitalize, with the fighter from Tajikistan finding ways to clinch, scramble, and salt away the victory.
This was an excellent showing by each man in their shared first UFC appearance, with Radzhabov showing why he was a solid favorite even on short notice, and Ribovics elevating his stock even in defeat.
Farid Basharat defeats by unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
Farid Basharat started his journey to catching up to his big brother Javid in terms of UFC victories, registering a unanimous decision win over Da’Mon Blackshear to win his promotional debut.
After following the same path through Dana White’s Contender Series as his brother, the younger Basharat fought a similarly tactical fight against Blackshear, using his fluid, confident striking and timely wrestling to out-hustle the Jackson-Wink MMA representative. Whenever Blackshear appeared poised to shift the momentum, Basharat found a way to counter, scrambling to his feet or completing a takedown of his own to stem the tide and remain in charge.
Tabatha Ricci defeats Jessica Penne by submission (armbar) 2:14 of Round 2
Tabatha Ricci turned in the most impressive performance of her career on Saturday night, securing a second-round submission win over former title challenger Jessica Penne to earn her third straight win.
“Baby Shark” was clearly the faster and more athletic of the two from the outset, controlling the opening round with her grappling while getting the better of the striking exchanges as well. In the second, a beautiful hip toss put Penne back on the canvas, and when the veteran looked to attack off her back, Ricci spun through and secured the armbar, extending and forcing Penne to tap.
After dropping her promotional debut up a division against contender Manon Fiorot, Ricci is now showing that she’s an up-and-coming talent to watch in the 115-pound weight class. She’s 3-0 at strawweight and looking more comfortable with each appearance, making her one to watch going forward.
Cameron Saaiman defeats Mana Martinez by majority decision (29-26, 28-27, 28-28)
For the second consecutive fight, Cameron Saaiman lost a point, and for the second time, it didn’t matter, as the South African prospect remained perfect with a majority decision win over Mana Martinez.