Matchmaking for Ciryl Gane, Valentina Shevchenko, and other UFC 285 losers.
Just like that, UFC 285 came and went. After years of anticipation, MMA fans were treated to the sight of heavyweight Jon Jones after three years out to work on his move up from light heavyweight. The main event capped off an exhilarating fight card that saw more than half of the contests finish inside the distance, including four out of five on the main card.
After every UFC pay-per-view, everyone begins to wonder what’s next for the winners and losers from the action-packed night. UFC 285 included some new names in the losing column, including one of the most astonishing results in UFC history.
Only time will tell what happens to these fighters but the least I can do is try to make some interesting fights for their foreseeable futures. Without further ado, here are the next fights for UFC 285’s losers.
Next matchups for UFC 285 losers
Jamie Pickett vs. Tresean Gore
Many people will feel that Jamie Pickett was the victim of being ‘fed’ to UFC debutant Bo Nickal, with the three-time NCAA wrestling champion submitting Pickett in the first round to live up to his hype.
Unfortunately for Pickett, that makes it three losses in a row, all by finishes, and he runs the risk of being cut from the UFC if he doesn’t find a way to turn this around. I can see the UFC once again giving Pickett a tough matchup in former The Ultimate Fighter finalist Tresean Gore, who most recently won by submission back in October 2022.
While we may not know if Pickett will be with the UFC for another fight, if he is booked against Gore, a win would change his fortunes and give him another lifeline in MMA’s leading promotion.
Jalin Turner vs. Renato Moicano
All of the momentum that Jalin Turner carried into UFC 285 has unfortunately been extinguished but he can still prove to be a problem for anyone in the lightweight division. He did have a last-minute switch in opponent and was proving successful against Mateusz Gamrot before his adversary turned it into a grappling match, squeezing out a split decision win.
Turner still proved to be dangerous for a top-10-ranked opponent and shouldn’t slide too far down the rankings. His grappling and standup game still makes him extremely fun to watch so why not match him up with another exciting fighter in Renato ‘Money’ Moicano.
Moicano has fought almost every big name in the lightweight division and has found recent fame with his frantic post-fight interviews. Putting him in front of Turner gives MMA fans a chance to see which one of them is for real, and which one is a pretender.
Geoff Neal vs. Sean Brady
In what earned fight of the night honors, Geoff Neal showed the world that he is a tough night for any of the top welterweights in the UFC. Although Shavkat Rakhmonov managed to find a choke in the third, Neal was well in the fight and even looked the better fighter at times.
There’s no shame in a loss to an undefeated and seemingly unstoppable force in Rakhmonov for Neal and he can remain relevant in the top 10 discussions if he faces Sean Brady next. The no. 8 ranked welterweight dropped his last fight to Belal Muhammad in what was his first professional loss but has proven to be a difficult opponent given his wrestling pedigree and heavy hands.
A win for Neal ensures he stays entrenched in the top 10 of the rankings and remains within touching distance of a title shot.
Valentina Shevchenko vs. Alexa Grasso 2
It’s over. Valentina Shevchenko’s dominant reign over the flyweight division was over in the space of an instant, all because of one bad move from the champion. After getting caught with crisp boxing combinations in the first, the champion began to take control of the fight with her strength and grappling skills and a unanimous decision victory was seemingly on the cards. One strange spinning kick attempt later and Alexa Grasso was strapped on her back, locked in the choke, and became just the UFC’s third-ever women’s flyweight champion.
A rematch is the only logical matchup. Shevchenko seemed to be in control heading into the fourth and was probably winning that round before Grasso changed the course of her career. A rematch would also be warranted for Shevchenko given her seven consecutive defenses of the title and give Grasso the chance to prove that it wasn’t just a mistake from Shevchenko that won her the belt.
Ciryl Gane vs. Loser of Sergei Pavlovich vs. Curtis Blaydes
The no. 1 ranked heavyweight fighter fell short of the title once again. Ciryl Gane appeared to be the biggest threat to Jon Jones in his heavyweight debut and as Bruce Buffer introduced the competitors, it seemed we were about to witness one of the best heavyweight title fights in history.
Instead, Jon Jones showed why he’s the consensus MMA G.O.A.T, finishing Gane two minutes into his heavyweight debut. Gane now runs the risk of never competing for the title given that he’s now lost his last two chances at the belt. He’s still one of the most dangerous heavyweights out there so he shouldn’t fall anywhere near the gatekeeper category but the likelihood of another shot at a belt is not great unless he picks up huge wins.
That win can come from the loser of Sergei Pavlovich vs. Curtis Blaydes. That matchup is scheduled for April with the winner likely next in line for the heavyweight title after Jones fights Stipe Miocic. The loser will still be a highly ranked and skilled contender and a fight with Gane will continue to keep the heavyweight division exciting during Jones’ tenure as champion.