UFC 185 lands in Dallas this Saturday night with a card headlined by two title fights: Anthony Pettis putting the lightweight strap up against Rafael dos Anjos and Carla Esparza defending her strawweight belt for the first time against Joanna Jedrzejczyk.
In addition to the two title fights, former welterweight champion Johny Hendricks looks to climb back to the top of the contender’s ladder when he faces knockout artist Matt Brown, plus Roy Nelson battles Alistair Overeem in a heavyweight bout with fireworks written all over it.
It should be clear by now there are a ton of great fights at UFC 185, but just in case you need an extra nudge, we’re going to give you five good reasons to make sure and tune in this Saturday night to see all the action from Texas.
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Showtime Earned His Nickname
Anthony Pettis won’t disappoint at UFC 185.
UFC lightweight champion Anthony Pettis is not only the best 155-pound fighter on the planet, but he also happens to be one of the most electrifying athletes on the entire roster.
Pettis’ highlight reel is filled with the broken hopes and dreams of opponents who tried to stand toe-to-toe with him only to find out seconds later that striking with the best kickboxer in the lightweight division is like playing dodgeball with dynamite.
Eventually it’s going to get you.
Pettis has the most one-kick knockouts in UFC/WEC history, which is enough reason to avoid blinking whenever the lightweight champion is in action, but his arsenal and creativity make him can’t-miss television every time he fights.
Who can forget Pettis rocketing off the cage wall and slamming his foot in Benson Henderson’s face to secure the WEC lightweight title when the two fighters first met in 2010? Or when Pettis landed a rib-crunching body kick that put Donald "Cowboy" Cerrone down and out in under three minutes when they fought in 2013?
Pettis has the ability to knock out any lightweight in the world and there’s no telling what he might come up with next at UFC 185.
Rafael Dos Anjos will look to continue his impressive run Saturday.
Through eight fights in his UFC career, Rafael dos Anjos was a decent enough mid-card talent with a 4-4 record overall and a couple solid wins over names like George Sotiropoulos and Terry Etim, but he didn’t seem like any kind of threat to ever challenge for the lightweight title.
But then in 2012, dos Anjos submitted former WEC title contender Kamal Shalorous and it started a five-fight win streak for the Brazilian. While he did suffer a loss to Khabib Nurmagomedov in 2014, dos Anjos came back again with a vengeance, picking up three more wins in a row, including a knockout over former lightweight champion Benson Henderson and a one-sided beatdown of former title contender Nate Diaz.
Dos Anjos enters UFC 185 with an 8-1 record over his past nine fights, with three wins over competitors who have either been ranked in the top five or been champion within the past two years.
Dos Anjos might be an underdog going into Saturday night, but don’t even attempt to count him out. He’s become one of the best lightweights in the world with a dangerous mix of Muay Thai kickboxing and world-class Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and there’s little doubt dos Anjos is going to give Pettis everything he can handle and more.
Striker vs. Grappler
The co-main event matchup between women’s strawweight champion Carla Esparza and Joanna Jedrzejczyk is intriguing in a number of ways, none more than the classic stylistic battle between striker and grappler.
Jedrzejczyk is a world-class kickboxer with a mantle full of championships from her time competing in Muay Thai all over Europe. In her time with the UFC, Jedrzejczyk has continued to improve her MMA striking: She’s averaging more than 19 attempts per minute, which makes her one of the most active fighters on the roster.
Esparza will counter Jedrzejczyk’s striking with her wrestling, which is by far the best in the women’s strawweight division. Esparza is a former two-time All-American from Menlo College and she lands takedowns with over 70-percent accuracy. The toughest part of Esparza’s wrestling game is her tenaciousness; she rarely will give up on a takedown until she finally finds a way to put an opponent on the mat.
Can Jedrzejczyk deal with Esparza’s wrestling? Can Esparza find a way around Jedrzejczyk’s striking? The answers will be revealed at UFC 185.
Johny Hendricks vs. Matt Brown has serious ‘Fight of the Night’ potential.
The featured welterweight bout on the main card between Johny Hendricks and Matt Brown has "Fight of the Night" written all over it, and there are plenty of statistics to back up that claim.
Hendricks has proven to be one of the best welterweights on the planet, but he didn’t get there by boring decisions. The former champion has the second-most fight bonuses in welterweight history, including a 12-second knockout over former title contender Jon Fitch as well as a "Fight of the Year" candidate for his bout against Carlos Condit.
Meanwhile, Brown remains the deadliest fighter in the welterweight division with more knockouts than any other fighter in UFC history at 170 pounds. He has the second highest striking accuracy, landing over 54 percent of his attempts, and his finishes can come from anywhere in the cage. Brown is particularly devastating in the clinch with short punches and nasty elbows while mixing in a fundamental boxing game from the outside.
Add it all up and it would appear Hendricks and Brown are headed for a collision course that will leave jaws on the ground and eyes plastered on the Octagon as these two welterweight juggernauts slug it out for three rounds.
If Hendricks and Brown don’t somehow steal the show, expect the heavyweight bout between Roy Nelson and Alistair Overeem to get the job done.
These two fighters must have serious issues with judging in MMA because they rarely ever go to a decision to allow anyone to render a score in their respective fights.
Nelson has an overall finishing rate of 86 percent, with the majority of his wins in the UFC coming by way of knockout. Nelson’s right hand is like a brick being swung at the end of a lead pipe, and if he lands it, there’s probably not a fighter in the UFC today who can eat it and not get planted face first into the canvas.
Overeem is just as dangerous with a ridiculous 92-percent finishing rate, although he does vary his wins between knockouts and submissions. The former K-1 Grand Prix champion is a kickboxing nightmare on the feet with long range and some of the hardest knees from inside the clinch. Add to that a potent ground game where Overeem bludgeons opponents from the top with hard punches and short yet powerful elbows and it makes the Dutch big man one of the toughest matchups in the division.
Put these two combustible elements together and that’s just a recipe for an exciting finish.