UFC 285 at the T-Mobile Arena is the first card of 2023 that feels like it is stacked top to bottom. The undercard for the event could easily have been a main card for some of the Apex shows that everyone has been subjected to in recent years.
With that going in favor of fight fans both in the arena and watching at home, it was able to produce stars coming out of it.
That was something fighters like Floyd Mayweather or Manny Pacquiao were always doing. They loaded up their undercards with future stars and that brought more eyeballs to the up-and-comers. The UFC at times has done a good job of this but they more often than not have neglected to load cards the way they should.
With the return of Jon Jones and his pursuit of being a double champ being the story, there are plenty of eyeballs on the event as a whole.
Here are four fighters who took advantage of that and deserve your attention further post-UFC 285.
In a bout that had an interesting game plan from Jessica Penne, Tabatha Ricci never allowed it to throw off her game. The UFC women’s flyweight won her third fight in a row and did so in impressive fashion. Penne was getting taken down in the fight and whenever Ricci was happy to stand back up Penne just remained seated and scooted around the cage until the Brazilian had seen enough. Ricci was given Penne’s arm, made a smooth transition, and locked in the arm bar.
Ian Garry had a rocky start to his bout against Song Kenan. He was dropped at one point but quickly got up and recovered to show he was unfazed. He started to get into a groove with his boxing and gave Song impressive swelling over his left eye. Garry smelled blood in the water and started going after the eye with three and five-punch combinations before hurting him to the point he collapsed. Once he was down he finished the fight off before asking for a spot on UFC 287 in April.
Julian Marquez will have to buy himself flowers and write his own name in the sand cause Marc-Andre Barriault came in like a wrecking ball and got the win. The bout should have been stopped midway through round two when Marquez’s mouthpiece came lying out and he wasn’t intelligently defending himself. To Barriault’s credit, he never let up and went until the ref finally stepped in with less than a minute in the second round. Impressive striking, especially in the clinch, and he showed he had the gas tank to keep a heavy barrage like that up for the time needed.
Dricus de Plessis
South Africa’s Dricus de Plessis was vocal during fight week about not being on the main card and having Bo Nickal on instead. His matchup with Derek Brunson was a top-ten bout between both men, after all, it would have made sense. However, now everyone got to see his impressive performance for free as he and Brunson went back and forth for two rounds. Eventually, de Plessis was able to land an effective leg kick and it took Brunson off his balance and from there the fight was heading toward the end. De Plessis was able to move around and pick off Brunson before finishing things off impressively on the ground as round two ended and his corner threw in the towel.