On the MMA side, we finally get to see Jon Jones’ much-awaited heavyweight debut at UFC 285. Seems like a lot to unpack so let’s get started.
MAGSAYO. To recall, Magsayo lost his WBC featherweight diadem to Rey Vargas in a close, split-decision loss in July of last year.
Magsayo fought well against Vargas and even scored the fight’s only knockdown. I thought “Magnifico” was too tight at times and needed to relax and let the exchanges flow naturally so he could pick his spots.
His defensive stance was porous and Vargas was able to land several eye-catching shots but I thought Magsayo was still the stronger puncher.
Figueroa is a formidable opponent and is the favored fighter according to the oddsmakers. His only blemish was inflicted by Stephen Fulton but even that was via close majority decision.
My concern is the pressure that Figueroa brings, especially his capacity for an all-out body attack. His impressive stoppage of Luis Nery in 2021 was his coming out party and in that fight he displayed a propensity for a vicious assault on an opponent’s body.
In the Vargas fight, Magsayo was slowed down by stinging body shots landed by Vargas early and it remains to be seen if he has learned his lesson and can adapt well against fighters who love to dig to the body.
JONES. “Bones” took three years off in order to bulk up and realize his dream of competing in the heavyweight division. And I love that in his first attempt, he isn’t taking it easy by taking on a top-tier opponent.
Two fights ago, Ciryl Gane fought for the UFC heavyweight championship and though he lost via decision, he acquitted himself quite well against Francis Ngannou.
He is also coming off an impressive stoppage victory over Tai Tuivasa last year, and so I give Bones all the props for immediately taking on the best at his new division.
At the weigh-in, Bones looked a bit doughy compared to the chiseled Gane but we all know looks do not make a fight.
Still, we have no template for how Jones fights at the heavyweight division and because of the very long layoff, I will have to give the slight edge to Gane.
LAST ROUND. It’s on one of my favorite persons in this world, my best buddy Dr. Oliver Baclig, who celebrates his birthday tomorrow. Cheers!