UFC 285 will feature a thrilling welterweight showdown between Geoff Neal and Shavkat Rakhmonov on March 4 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. Both fighters are looking to climb up the rankings and make a statement in one of the most stacked divisions in MMA.
Neal is a powerful striker who has seven wins in nine UFC appearances, including knockouts over Vicente Luque, Mike Perry, Niko Price, and Frank Camacho. His seven-fight win streak was snapped by Stephen Thompson in 2020 but Neal has returned to form with victories against Luque and Santiago Ponzinibbio since then.
Rakhmonov is an undefeated prospect who has finished all 16 of his professional fights, with eight submissions and eight knockouts. He has impressed in his four UFC outings, most recently submitting Neil Magny last year.
This fight was originally scheduled for January 14, but Neal suffered a late injury and had to withdraw. The UFC was able to rebook it for UFC 285, which will be headlined by a heavyweight title clash between Jon Jones and Ciryl Gane. The co-main event will see Valentina Shevchenko defend her women’s flyweight belt against Alexa Grasso.
UFC 285 will take place on Saturday, March 4 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. The main card will air on ESPN+ pay-per-view at 10 p.m. ET / 7 p.m. PT. The prelims will commence on ESPN+ much earlier at 5:30 p.m. ET / 2:30 p.m. PT.
MMA journalist James Lynch recently asked UFC fighters for their predictions for the welterweight bout between Neal and Rakhmonov. Who do they think will win and why? Read on to find out.
Neal vs. Rakhmonov predictions
“I think that’s a very interesting fight as well. I mean, you know Shavkat is undefeated. Geoff Neal, I beat, and I was his last loss. I think this is gonna be a stand-up fight. I think Geoff Neal’s takedown defense is going to be on point. I think Shavkat eat some point is gonna try and take him down. Geoff Neal’s gonna stuff it, then he’s going to keep the fight standing and we’re gonna have a stand-up war, which is what I love to see. Shavkat’s undefeated. Like we haven’t seen this guy in any dangerous situations. So I’m anxious to see it. And I think Geoff Neal can bring the best out of Shavkat. I really want to see that this fight man. It’s hard to pick against the undefeated Shavkat. I think Shavkat has the tools to get it done. Geoff Neal is a big body, he’s a big welterweight, I think it’s going to be tough but I think Shavkat has got it.” (via James Lynch)
“I think Shavkat. He is just a special fighter. I think he’s one of those guys, I’m not sure why he doesn’t have the same buzz as like Khamzat, maybe because I don’t think he speaks English that well um and he’s not talking trash. But I think he’s a special character and I think he’ll he’ll probably get it done.” (via James Lynch)
“We already know a lot about Geoff Neal, you know what I’m saying. This is more about figuring out Shavkat because that’s a tough matchup for him. Because Geoff, if he’s smart, he won’t stay in that kicking range, he’s going to get into that boxing range and we’ll see how Rakhmonov deals with that. I will be watching that fight very closely. So right now, off the top of my head, I think I’ll take Geoff Neal, I think he has something to prove. He’s seen a little bit more and you know, he’s been around in the game a little bit longer, so I think, and you know, it’s just stylistically, it’s very interesting. I mean, there’s definitely a lot of ways that Shavkat can win this one, but right now, I’m taking Geoff Neal in this fight.” (via James Lynch)
“I’m going with my boy Geoff Neal man. I think he is really coming into his own lately. His last performance was absolutely spectacular. I think he kind of had some growing pains, like people weren’t too sure, but like he’s looked on fire. I’m not even going to try to pronounce the other guy’s name, like super Mongolian is what we’ll call him, we’ll call him super Mongolian. So, people like him and he’s good, he’s good, he’s really good, but I’m gonna put my money on Neal man, hands down.” (via James Lynch)
“I think Geoff Neal looked phenomenal in that Luque fight. But I don’t know, Shavkat is like, he’s supposed to be the next guy, right? So I don’t know, I guess I’ll go with Shavkat. But yeah, Geoff Neal was great in his last fight, so that could definitely mix some things up if he can return to that form.” (via James Lynch)
“He’s tough, he’s a really tough, really good grappler, you know, just kind of tough everywhere. Uh, can Geoff Neal grapple? We haven’t really seen it. That’s the thing… it’s like those weird untested things like if Geoff Neal can defend takedowns and grapple, he could do pretty well, but it’s tough with that unknown, you know? So, I mean, I would probably lean towards the better wrestler in that fight for sure.” (via James Lynch)