UFC 285 predictions, best bets, odds: Jon Jones, Bo Nickal prop among top picks to consider

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One of the biggest PPV events of 2023 is here. UFC legend Jon Jones is set to return from an extended absence to finally challenge for the heavyweight crown. Jones takes on Cyril Gane in the main event of UFC 285 Saturday with the vacant title on the line.

Jones has been out of action since February 2020. He left the lightweight championship after defeating Dominick Reyes and began verbally sparring with UFC management and building up for the long-awaited run in the UFC’s heaviest division. He now faces a dangerous striker in Gane in an attempt to prove his status as MMA’s greatest of all time.

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Meanwhile, Gane represents the new wave of MMA as he quickly makes his way up the heavyweight ladder to challenge Ngannou for the title in January 2022. He lost by decision, but a kick it back with a hit of Tai Tuivasa late last year. Gane has a diverse skill set with almost equal styles of victory in takedown, submission and decision.

As always, we’re looking forward to the event to determine our picks for the best bets on the main pay-per-view card. 2023 is off to a great start with our picks going 7-3 over the UFC’s first two pay-per-view events.

Let’s take a look at our picks for the best bets on the UFC 285 main card with odds from Caesars Sportsbook.

Bo Nickal vs. Jamie Pickett

Bo Nickal wins in Round 1 (-200)

Nickal is as good a prospect as the UFC has seen in a while. It can be easy to get a little ahead of yourself by looking at Nickal’s quick and dominant wins in the first three fights of his career and think that’s how he handles any opponent. Of course, more strife will come now that he is officially in the UFC. That said, the fight with Pickett is one that was clearly made to give Nickal a chance to do what he does best. Pickett has been finished five times in his career, three of those finishes coming by submission. In addition, he was stopped in the first round three times. This is the type of fight where Nickal can try to show off his amazing skills before he decides to wrestle and quickly ends Pickett’s night.

Mateusz Gamrot vs. Jalin Turner

Jalin Turner (+180) against Mateusz Gamrot

Gamrot is a big step forward for Turner on the competition level. That said, Turner is a 6-foot-3 lightweight who has finally started to put it all together. After a 1-2 start to his UFC career, Turner has gone on a five-fight winning streak, with all five wins coming by stoppage within two rounds. Gamrot is difficult and has never been completed, but Turner just shows the issues and there are very few bright lights on the planet. With the way Turner had looked, how dialed in he seems to be and with his six-inch reach advantage, there are plenty of reasons to make a play on the underdog to get the biggest win of his career.

Geoff Neal vs. Shavkat Rakhmonov

Fight to go over 1.5 rounds (-145)

Rakhmonov has been a real animal all his life. Sixteen wins, 16 fights and 16 finishes, a great record in every way as a professional mixed martial artist. Neal is just out really tough. Rakhmonov should be able to win this fight, but Neal is tough enough that it won’t be easy for Rakhmonov from the opening bell. Neal has been stopped twice in his career, both before joining the UFC and both coming in the third round. While Rakhmonov is a force, Neal is good enough to make him work for the win and stretch the fight past the halfway point of the second round.

Valentina Shevchenko vs. Alexa Grasso

Fight to go over 2.5 rounds (-145)

Shevchenko vs Grasso is a difficult fight from a betting point of view. Grasso is unlikely to win but she has enough striking to be a threat, although not enough of a threat for a small game at +550 and Shevchenko is -800, removing the money line from the equation entirely. Shevchenko by KO or TKO (+180) is the most likely outcome according to the odds, but she could use her wrestling to establish a claim, which is the only way Grasso has been stopped in her career -life. One number that stands out looking at both women’s records is that Shevchenko has only had one UFC fight finish before the midway point of the second round. The women’s flyweight champion is a patient fighter and Grasso should be able to get through the first half of the fight because of it.

Jon Jones vs. Cyril Gane

Jon Jones (-170) vs Cyril Gane

There are plenty of reasons to worry when it comes to picking Jones to win this fight. The three years out of action, moving up to a new weight class, Gane’s technical strike game, and so on. It’s hard to look at what Jones brings to the table and how Gane was beaten by Francis Ngannou and think that Jones can’t mess his way to victory. Jones’ wrestling is dynamic and creative when he chooses to use it and Gane isn’t going to be able to make up for the deficiencies in that area in significant enough ways since the Ngannou fight. Even saying that Gane was surprised and caught off guard by Ngannou’s wrestling doesn’t hold up because he didn’t show any sense or technique to stop Ngannou after he started. Jones finds ways to win and has a diverse attack that never lets Gane get comfortable. When Gane is worried about takedowns, he’s going to eat strikes. When he responds to the strikes, he will be taken down. Ride the Jones money line in this one.

Who will win Jones vs. Gane at UFC 285? And what exactly does each fight end? Visit SportsLine now to get detailed picks on every fight at UFC 285, all from the MMA expert who made a profit of more than $6,200 in 2022, and find out.

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