UFC 285 delivered. From the dominant return of Jon Jones to the shocking upset victory for Alexa Grasso, the fight night in Las Vegas was electric Saturday.
The 2023 version of Jones looked a lot like every other version of Jones. He was precise, mobile and showed that the change of weight class wouldn’t factor into his in-cage ability. He locked into a guillotine submission just minutes into the main event and Ciryl Gane, trapped against the fence and being choked, tapped quickly. As the new heavyweight champion, Jones is back on top of the UFC.
Before Jones reclaimed his throne, it was the dethroning of Valentina Shevchenko that turned Vegas upside down. After losing the second and third round due to an incessant ground attack from Shevchenko, Grasso, in a shockingly quick manner, locked in a rear-naked choke and secured a submission win of her own.
Marc Raimondi puts the wins of Grasso and Bo Nickal in perspective, while Brett Okamoto plays matchmaker and lines up who could be next for the new champions and other standouts on the card.
He made it look easy. Was it easy? It was easy for the greatest of all time. No problem at all. Just like that, Jones is a two-division champ. Now, we’re left with the question we always have regarding Jones: What’s next? Who can beat this man, if anyone? Well, Miocic is going to get the next crack.
The UFC had already made it known that Miocic would be next, and Miocic reiterated after the fight that it would be in July. Off we go.
Miocic isn’t in his prime anymore, but he’s arguably the best to do it at heavyweight. One would think that could offer a challenge to Jones, perhaps one he won’t be able to overcome. But history sure suggests otherwise at this point.
Raimondi: Alexa Grasso may have shocked the world on Saturday, but maybe not Dana White
Grasso fought Mizuki Inoue on Feb. 27, 2015, in Los Angeles under the Invicta FC banner. UFC president Dana White was in attendance that night. It was a day before a UFC card in the same city and White was scouting the up-and-coming women’s talent. Grasso was just 21 years old, but put on a Fight of the Night performance in a unanimous-decision win. White was sold immediately — and said as much after the bout. White said that fight should have been in the UFC and it was “incredible.” Grasso ended up in the UFC two fights later.
White knew what he had then. It took a little bit to all come together. But just a tad over nine years later, Grasso is a UFC champion. She took out Shevchenko, one of the best women’s fighters of all time, with a rear-naked choke in the fourth round. Grasso is the first-ever Mexican-born women’s champion in UFC history, the second Mexican-born undisputed UFC champion ever after Brandon Moreno, and one of three current UFC champions from Mexico with Moreno and Yair Rodriguez.
A lot has been discussed early this year about the upcoming Mexican MMA renaissance. Well, it’s here. In full force. Mexico has been known for its boxing for decades, but MMA is catching up. And the proof is in the performances of these excellent fighters, who have all improved and evolved exponentially over the years. Grasso was once a strawweight prospect struggling to find her footing as a contender. She stopped cutting all that weight, moved up a division and is now the champ. Shevchenko will likely get a deserved immediate rematch, but Grasso can enjoy this amazing feat for the time being, for herself, her country and her Lobo Gym team. Irene Aldana, her teammate, is close to a title shot a women’s bantamweight, as well.