The UFC returns to Las Vegas this weekend as one of the greatest MMA fighters of all time makes his heavyweight debut at UFC 285. Our man Christopher Coates has previewed this huge event and given you his betting predictions. 

UFC 285 Betting Tips

  • Jones to win by points – 2/1
  • Shevchenko to win by KO, TKO Or DSQ – 21/10
  • Rakhmonov to win in Round 2 – 7/2
  • Jalin Turner to win – 7/4
  • Bo Nickal to win in Round 1 – 4/9

Acca @ 165/1

It’s been a long wait, with almost three years passing since Jon Jones officially signalled his intent to move up a division and try his hand against the very biggest and baddest the UFC has to offer.

While it may not be the opponents the MMA world dreamed of – Stipe Miocic or Francis Ngannou – it’s still set to be a baptism of fire for Jones as he takes on the dangerous French striking specialist Ciryl Gane.

Long thought of as one of, if not the finest mixed martial artist to ever grace the octagon, Jones has the chance to prove he is indeed the baddest man on the planet by picking up the vacant heavyweight title.

As after all, as in any combat sport, there’s nothing quite like the heavyweights. Let’s take a look at the two title fights and give some picks for the main card…

Jones to win by points – 2/1

We should start off by noting, there are a lot of unknowns here.

How will Jones (4/7) cope at the weight? He’s definitely been meticulous in preparing himself for the move up, having not fought since February of 2020, where he scored a unanimous decision victory over Dominick Reyes at light heavyweight.

However, if you’re a long time MMA fan, you’ll know despite the result, there was far from a consensus in terms of the opinion of the scoring.

It’s been over three years since then, which begs the next question, how will that spell of inactivity affect him? Ring rust is very much real and there’s simply no way of knowing what state ‘Bones’ will be in come fight night.

With all that said, Gane (11/8), on paper, would appear to be made for the former light heavyweight champion.

The Frenchman is a fearsome technical striker, with incredible timing and footwork, which was on full display last time out in September of last year as he KO’d Tai Tuivasa in front of a baying Paris crowd.

However, prior to that he fell short against then champion Francis Ngannou where, worryingly for this fight, he was outwrestled by a man known for not being the best wrestler.

Jones has remarked in the build up to the fight that Gane gassed heavily in that contest, saying ‘wrestling is a different type of cardio’ and he’s not wrong, it’s one thing moving around the octagon striking, another thing entirely carrying the weight of another man as he pins you to the canvas.

If the fight does stay on the feet, then Jones may be in trouble if he gives Gane space to work and get into a rhythm.

One area that will be absolutely crucial is the clinch, if the American can corner his opponent and utilise his usually exceptional work with overhooks, he may be able to get off some trademark offence up close.

All of the above is why we simply must go with Jones here despite the question marks over him, we think he uses his supreme grappling pedigree to tie up and tire out Gane, ultimately running out the winner by unanimous decision.

However, don’t be surprised if Jones ends it before the final horn via ground and pound(Jones by KO/TKO – 7/2) or submission(Jones by submission – 13/2).

Shevchenko to win by KO, TKO Or DSQ – 21/10

Valentina Shevchenko (1/8) is the undisputed queen of the women’s flyweight division who hasn’t tasted defeat since a loss to Amanda Nunes up at bantamweight six years ago.

After that it’s been a run of nine straight wins for the pride of Kyrgyzstan, the last seven of which have been title defences.

Despite that, Shevchenko did show chinks in her armour last time out against Taila Santos at UFC 275, meaning that an upset is entirely possible in the future.

Will it be here? Well, while Alexa Grasso (5/1) may not have been the first name on people’s lips to challenge for the title, she comes in here off the back of four straight wins.

Both fighters are known for their striking, but also have deceptively well-rounded skill sets as mixed martial artists.

Grasso’s ability to scramble could come into play against Shevchenko, who can be overaggressive in her takedown attempts, which could lead to opportunities on the ground for the challenger.

The odds heavily favour the champion here, and while an upset and shakeup of the flyweight division might be welcome, we can’t see past the belt staying where it is.

For some value, we’re going with Shevchenko by KO/TKO at 21/10.

Now, let’s move onto our picks for the rest of the main card…

Rakhmonov to win in Round 2 – 7/2

Rakhmonov, quite simply, is a beast, he’s only gone past the second round in his entire MMA career on one occasion. We think Neal is good enough to take him past the first.

Jalin Turner to win – 7/4

What’s life without a little risk? This one was made on short notice, and while he’s underdog against a man who’s never been finished, Turner is well-rounded and often a difficult puzzle to solve, we’re going for the upset.

Bo Nickal to win in Round 1 – 4/9

Nickal is a breakout star and it feels like Pickett is being served up as a sacrificial lamb here, take Nickal in the first round for something resembling value in this one.

If you like the sound of all these happening then you can get the acca at 165/1 or take it as a Lucky 31.

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