UFC 285: Jones vs. Gane Predictions

by | Last updated Feb 25, 2023 | mma

UFC 285: Jones vs. Gane Picks
When: Saturday, March 4, 2023
Where: T-Mobile Arena, Las Vegas, Nevada
by Loot Levinson of Predictem.com

Fight Analysis:

The vacant UFC Heavyweight Title is up for grabs, with former light heavyweight champion Jon Jones and former interim champ Ciryl Gane duking it out to see who the next top big man will be. It’s the first heavyweight fight for a man many feel is the greatest UFC champion of all time in Jon Jones. His entrance exam is a tough one, with Gane a large and agile practitioner who is well-rounded in all aspects of the sport. Can the excellence of Jones still translate at the highest levels, or will the inactivity and jump in weight cost him against the capable Gane?

Jon Jones, 26-1 (10 KOs, 6 KOs), (-155) vs. Ciryl Gane, 11-1 (5 KOs, 3 Submissions), (+130)
Jon Jones and Ciryl Gane will fight for the UFC Heavyweight Title in the UFC 285 main event from Las Vegas. It’s a compelling fight with some back-story. The champ, who was Francis Ngannou, parted ways with the UFC, evidently over the fallout from negotiations with a fight against Jones. With Ngannou having beaten Gane, this fight isn’t the mega-blockbuster we were wanting, though it is still very, very good. It’s actually possible that Jones matched up better against Ngannou in certain respects. Ngannou is more dangerous, and the fight was more-appetizing, but despite having beaten Gane, Ngannou might have been easier for Jones than the more-calculating and, in many ways, better-rounded Gane.

The problem with Jones might not be size or the notion that he comes from a different era. Always a massive and spidery light heavyweight with a massive reach, he has physically filled out in his thirties, and you’d think this is where he presumably should be at this point in his career. And despite having been out of the spotlight after a prolonged run at the top, he is only three years older than the 32-year-old Gane, far more of a newcomer to the sport.

It’s just that while Gane has been developing and rising up the ranks, Jones has been on the sidelines. This will be his first fight in three years and before that layoff, his schedule had been winding down, as well. Mix in the fact that some of his more-recent showings were closer-than-expected light heavyweight title defenses against guys like Anthony Smith, Thiago Santos, and Dominick Reyes, and you have to wonder if this is the same guy. The last time we saw the killer Jones was in the rematch with Gustafsson five years ago.

Also, there have been run-ins with the law, along with Jones running afoul with the athletic commissions over failed drug tests, with Jones still able to forge a great career, while leaving many to wonder what could have been if he had stayed disciplined. The question for the purposes of betting on this fight is can he turn it around? Can Jones get serious, keep his nose clean, and whip himself into the mental and physical shape necessary to win the heavyweight belt in his first fight in the weight class?

On one hand, time waits for no one in this business. A rapidly-developing sport does not afford its participants the luxury of stagnating and thinking one can just jump-start the car back up. With Jones, however, you’re almost inclined to give him the benefit of the doubt. Despite the one DQ loss on his ledger, he has never been beaten, despite a dozen years spent taking on top guys. You can call his ethics into question, but the man is a winner who has always found a way to prevail in a sport where long unbeaten stretches like his are quite uncommon. But in a sport with rapid advancement and evolution, Jones was still able to stay on top despite all his issues.

Bet on the fight live-in-progress at Bovada Sportsbook!

I wonder if Jones’ wrestling can register in this division against a strong, agile, and improving big young man in Gane. Gane is very smooth and does unorthodox things, like that spinning front kick he does with his lead foot. He moves well and is very athletic. And if Jones was seeing his takedown supremacy wane against guys like Cruz, you wonder if he can be the same guy who relies on his wrestling and physicality at this new weight and against this different type of opponent.

With Jones, you’re dealing with a winner, a champion with a fight IQ that has always been off the charts. For all we know, he’s hungrier than he’s been in a while, looking to re-establish himself in this moment. Or he could be a spent force who hasn’t been living clean for the last several years and is about to get fed a reality sandwich. You just don’t know. On one hand, Jones has been gaining weight for a while now so he should be used to the extra poundage. But you’re still talking about a guy whose last performances at light heavyweight weren’t that crisp jumping up in weight and now taking on a thoroughbred 245-pounder. The pessimism is understandable, even within the context of Jones being considered the GOAT by many.

It doesn’t help Gane that it sometimes seems that opponents need to win 4 of 5 rounds against Jones to stand any chance of winning a decision. I just think that inactivity, excess partying, and letting success get to his head has maybe robbed Jones of his razor’s edge. If you were to maybe transport prime Jones into this spot, gave him some time to add some weight, it would make more sense. But to assume that he’s still got what it takes to rise above the rest at this more-evolved level of top-end heavyweight MMA is quite a leap of faith. Going against Jones seems counterintuitive on some levels, but I’m going with Gane in this one.

My Pick to Win: I’m betting on Ciryl Gane at +130 betting odds. The value is good for a true heavyweight and a tricky fighter who has the speed, size, agility, and know-how to give Jones a real tough night of work. If he can repel Jones’ wrestling, I think he has a good shot to win the fight.