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Grant Emrick Breakdowns UFC 285 Jones vs. Gane

UFC 285: Jones vs. Gane

March 4, 2023

Emrick’s 2023 UFC Fighter Pick Record (47-22-2)

Main Events (3-3)

Lock of the Week (5-1)

Dawg of the Week (2-4)

Lifetime Fighter Pick Record (345-184-5)

Early Prelim Predictions:

LW: Loik Radzhabov (16-4-1) vs. Esteban Ribovics (11-0)

  • Pick: Loik Radzhabov

BW: Da’Mon Blackshear (12-4-1) vs. Farid Basharat (9-0)

  • Pick: Farid Basharat

WSTRAW: Jessica Penne (14-7) vs. Tabatha Ricci (7-1)

  • Pick: Tabatha Ricci

BW: Mana Martinez (10-3) vs. Cameron Saaiman (7-0)

  • Pick: Cameron Saaiman *Lock of the Week*

WW: Ian Machado Garry (10-0) vs. Kenan Song (18-6)

  • Pick: Ian Machado Garry

Prelim Predictions:

MW: Julian Marquez (9-3) vs. Marc-Andre Barriault (14-6, 1 NC)

  • Pick: Julian Marquez

WFLY: #8 Viviane Araujo (11-4) vs. #15 Amanda RIbas (10-3)

  • Pick: Amanda Ribas

MW: #5 Derek Brunson (23-8) vs. #10 Dricus Du Plessis (18-2)

  • Pick: Dricus Du Plessis

BW: Cody Garbrandt (12-5) vs. Trevin Jones (13-9, 1 NC)

  • Pick: Cody Garbrandt

Main Card Predictions:

MW: Bo Nickal (3-0) vs. Jamie Pickett (13-8)

  • Pick: Bo Nickal (-1600)
  • Quick Reasoning:  It’s Bo Nickal versus Jamie Pickett. Nickal by way of finish in round one.

LW: #7 Mateusz Gamrot (21-2, 1 NC) vs. #10 Jalin Turner (13-5)

  • Pick: Mateusz Gamrot (-220)
  • Quick Reasoning: It’s the constant grappling and threat of takedowns that leads me to this pick for Gamrot. The last time Turner fought a tougher grappler was Matt Frevola in 2019, where he was taken down four times over fifteen minutes. Gamrot averages nearly five takedowns per fifteen minutes, often chaining attempts against his opponents. To put it into perspective, Gamrot was able to take down Guram Kutateladze, Diego Ferreira, Arman Tsarukyan, and Beneil Dariush four or more times each! If Gamrot can’t find the takedown against Turner, he may be in trouble. Gamrot has a negative striking differential, Jalin Turner has tremendous KO power, and Turner puts up nearly six-and-a-half significant strikes per minute. At 6’3”, Turner is a ginormous LW, but I believe Gamrot’s tough tests against Tsarukyan, Dariush, Guram, and a KSW title-run will come in handy to constantly pressure and chain takedowns towards his path to victory. I’m going with Gamrot here via decision, but takedowns and maintaining ground control are the x-factor in this one. 

WW: #7 Geoff Neal (15-4) vs. #10 Shavkat Rakhmonov (16-0)

  • Pick: Shavkat Rakhmonov (-500)
  • Quick Reasoning: Currently, if you’re named Shavkat or Khamzat then you’re automatically being bypassed to victory at the WW division. Rakhmonov is good everywhere, with almost a 2:1 differential in striking, landing two takedowns per fifteen minutes, and a perfect takedown defense. Also, let it be known, Shavkat has finished all sixteen fights via finish (8 KOs and 8 Submissions). Neal proved many – including myself – wrong in his KO over Vicente Luque last August, but I will continue to pick against him in this matchup. It’s not because I don’t think Neal is good, but because Rakhmonov is elite. Neal absolutely has a chance here, as he has an 85% takedown defense and throws up over five strikes per minute. However, he absorbs over five strikes per minute as well and has not faced as good – or potentially better – grappler since 2019 Belal Muhammad. As we know, Muhammad has leveled-up since and we saw Shavkat ragdoll Neil Magny, who beat Geoff Neal in May 2021. Overall, Shavkat should be a future title contender and has a high chance of becoming a champion in the next two years unless Chimaev beats him to it. Although the odds are a bit wide, I’m going with Rakhmonov via submission or decision in this one. 

WFLY: *Champion* Valentina Shevchenko (23-3) vs. #6 Alexa Grasso (15-3)

  • Pick: Valentina Shevchenko (-650)
  • Quick Reasoning: I believe Shevchenko will be able to outwork Grasso on the ground without a doubt. Grasso has been taken down more than once in three of her last five fights, including bouts against Viviane Araujo, Maycee Barber, and Carla Esparza. Don’t get me wrong, I really like Grasso’s boxing, but the person to defeat Valentina will need a strong ground game similar to Taila Santos or Erin Blanchfield. Even on the feet Shevchenko has a better striking differential, striking and defensive metrics, and overall grappling advantages against Grasso. This should be Valentina’s best striking opponent in her last few fights, but she’s so well rounded and better than Grasso in all facets of the game. Long story short, give me Valentina and hopefully we get Blanchfield or Fiorot against the current champion next. 

HW: Jon Jones (26-1, 1 NC) vs. #1 Ciryl Gane (11-1) 

  • Pick: Ciryl Gane (+145) *Dawg of the Week*
  • Quick Reasoning: Yes, I understand that Jones is supposed to be one of the greatest UFC fighters of all time. Yes, I understand that Jones is great at getting takedowns and Gane’s performance against Ngannou on the ground was flat. And yes, I know that Jones has taken a long time to get his weight up to the HW level. However, his last few performances against Reyes and Thiago Santos were sub-par, he’s had difficulty with takedowns against these opponents and is expected to fight a much heavier opponent this time around, and Ciryl Gane arguably moves much better than Jones as a HW. Gane is legit and it took me a long time to accept this fact. Ciryl Gane had no reason to prepare for Ngannou to grapple, so it would have thrown any fighter off during the fight. Gane also lands more significant strikes per minute, has above a 2:1 striking differential, and has had a tough resume of opponents at HW. There’s only a limited number of HWs who can move like Gane, such as an injury-free Tom Aspinall and sometimes Curtis Blaydes in flashes. If Gane has put some effort towards takedown defense, he should be able to win this via decision. We also need to acknowledge that Jones has taken a long time off, over three years, which is a major red flag. I do believe in ring rust, which is why it took Tatiana Suarez a bit of time to beat a much less difficult opponent in Montana De La Rosa than she would have if they fought years prior. A better example would be Yair Rodriguez, who I genuinely believe could beat Max Holloway if they rematched today instead of after Yair’s two year layoff. Jones’ ring rust, his acclimation to a new division, and the HW skill set of Ciryl Gane leads me to believe that he will emerge victorious come Saturday evening. I could be way off and Gane could be taken down continuously, ultimately being grounded and pounded into oblivion. However, I think this reality is unlikely with the kind of tear we’ve seen from Gane lately. Gane via decision or late-round KO is the way I see things going down this weekend. 

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