UFC 185 was one of the few cards in recent memory that wasn’t completely torn apart by injuries, and thankfully, all of its highly anticipated matchups delivered.
On the evening’s undercard, not a single bout made it to the judge’s scorecards, as viewers were treated to knockouts and submissions alike. On the main card, we were treated to four dominant decision wins—one of which being a massive upset—while the pay-per-view’s lone stoppage came not from potent finishers like Alistair Overeem, Roy Nelson, Johny Hendricks, Matt Brown, or Anthony Pettis, but from a 115-pound Polish girl. Ours is one hell of a sport.
It was a truly memorable card, complete with belt-changes, upsets, knockouts, submissions, and one-sided spankings. Here is a recap of the action for those who missed it.
The Main Card
Dos Anjos Scores Upset for the Ages
Rafael Dos Anjos couldn’t let Joanna Jedrzejczyk have all the glory. In a true upset for the ages, the Brazilian exemplified the term “well-rounded mixed martial artist” for five, long rounds against highly-touted champion, Anthony Pettis. He is now the new UFC lightweight champion.
Despite a tepid beginning to his UFC career, which saw him lose to Jeremy Stephens, Tyson Griffin and Clay Guida in his first six fights, Dos Anjos has since exemplified growth, adding world class striking and solid wrestling to his wicked Brazilian jiu jitsu game. And all of his weapons were on display against Pettis, who he punched, kicked, and wrestled en route to a clear-cut unanimous decision win. In victory, RDA will likely face the surging Khabib Nurmagomedov next—the last man he lost to.
Pettis, on the other hand, may have lost his belt, but remains one of the division’s most exciting fighters, and having recently defeated beasts like Gilbert Melendez and Benson Henderson, doesn’t stand to lose much ground. With a few more wins, the 28 year old can absolutely work his way back to contention.
In the meantime, lightweight remains an absolute shark tank where no man—not even a dominant champion—is safe from a complete and utter ass-kicking.
Joanna Jedrzejczyk Rips Through Carla Esparza
Over and over again, this women’s strawweight title fight was called a striker vs. grappler bout. In the end, that’s precisely what it turned out to be, and this time around, striking came out on top.
In the bout’s early moments, Esparza looked like she might have some success on the mat, but it didn’t take long for her Polish challenger to find her groove. With strong takedown defense and, more importantly, an assault of lightning-fast punches, Jedrzejczyk lit the champion up throughout the latter half of the first round, before finishing things off midway through the second.
In victory, Jedrzejczyk keeps her undefeated record intact. She also becomes the first European UFC champion since Andrei Arlovski’s heavyweight reign—beating Conor McGregor to that honor—and the second UFC strawweight champion in the organization’s history. She now faces the daunting task of defending her belt from a talented roster of young competitors.
Carla Esparza, on the other hand, tastes defeat for just the third time in her pro career. And while she no longer owns UFC gold, she’s unlikely to tumble too far down the ladder. At just 27, she’s still got plenty of time to fill the holes in her striking game, and set her sights on the strawweight title once again.
Hendricks Trounces Brown for Three Rounds
In his main-card welterweight bout against gritty slugger Matt Brown, Johny Hendricks looked every bit a former champion. With a whopping seven completed takedowns in eight attempts, and a bombardment of big punches, leg kicks, and ground and pound, Hendricks bounced back from a controversial split-decision loss to Robbie Lawler back in December of 2014. In victory, he has probably lined himself up for another shot at the title that was once his. Whether that shot comes against Robbie Lawler or Rory MacDonald, however, remains to be seen.
In defeat, Brown falls to 0-2 in his last 2—a far cry from the 7-fight win-streak that carried him to contendership in 2014. And while Brown figures to remain a fixture of the UFC welterweight division, if he hopes to contend for the UFC welterweight title, he can’t afford to lose his next bout. Here’s hoping he’s matched up with the loser of the rumored Carlos Condit vs. Thiago Alves bout next.
Patient Overeem Outduels Big Country
It wasn’t the kind of savagery for which Overeem is typically known, but it was one hell of a victory. For three rounds, the hulking former K-1 champ stalked Roy Nelson, switching stances often, mixing up his attacks, and defending intelligently for the rare moments that Nelson was on the offensive. It was a surgical display by the Dutchman—a fact well-documented by the welts on the American’s midsection.
The win is Overeem’s second in a row, and marks the first two-fight win streak of his UFC tenure. And while the 34 year old is running short on time, he’s suddenly closing in on a heavyweight title shot—a fate many expected for him when he signed with the organization back in 2011. Should Overeem defy the odds and win UFC gold, the belt will have to find space on his mantle between the heavyweight titles of Strikeforce, Dream, and K-1.
In defeat, Nelson enters the third 2-fight-skid of his 14-fight UFC career. And while his fan favorite style and….unique figure make him a marketable commodity in the heavyweight division, this loss to Overeem may have dashed his title hopes for good.
Henry Cejudo Decisions Cariaso
It was the first decision of the evening, but as a dominant a victory as any before it. For three rounds, Olympic gold medalist Henry Cejudo thrashed former title-challenger Chris Cariaso, earning the biggest win of his young career.
The victory keeps Cejudo undefeated, and also marks his first successful cut in the flyweight since joining the UFC. In victory, he figures to enter the chaos of the UFC flyweight top-10, where a grappler’s delight matchup with the likes of Jussier “Formiga” Da Silva now makes ample sense.
Cariaso, on the other hand, moves to 0-2 in defeat. While he remains a tough out for any flyweight on the roster, his losses to Demetrious Johnson, and now Cejudo, relegate to him to the bottom-end of the top-15.
Ross Pearson Left Hook Shreds Sam Stout
Two veteran lightweight strikers with a combined 32 UFC bouts leading into their fight—there’s a reason many fight fans pegged this one as a Fight of the Night candidate. Unfortunately for Sam Stout, the encounter didn’t last long enough for such things.
It was an exchange, as Joe Rogan so aptly put it, reminiscent of the one that ended Dan Hardy’s night in his 2010 bout with Carlos Condit. Near-perfect mirror images of each other, both fighters threw cannon-like left hooks simultaneously. This time around, however, the Brit came out on top. Pearson’s left hook sent his Canadian opponent stumbling to the canvas just moments into the second round.
The win propels Pearson away from an ugly TKO loss to Al Iaquinta back in November 2014, and keeps him afloat in the deep water of the UFC lightweight division. With a fan-friendly style, and the talented coaches of Alliance MMA once again behind him, the Brit has no shortage of options. Stout, on the other hand, faces his second knockout loss in as many fights. A third would probably force the UFC’s hand.
It’s also worth noting that as the final bout of the UFC 185 prelims, Pearson’s knockout win rendered the undercard entirely decision-free.
Theodorou Stays Unbeaten Against Narvaez
It took him a few minutes for him to find his groove, but find it he did. After a tepid first round, Canada’s Elias Theodorou overwhelmed Roger Narvaez, a hometown favorite in Texas, with a diet of punishing high-kicks and ground and pound. The end came at 4:07 of round 2.
The victory is Theodorou’s 11th in a row, and keeps him undefeated. And while he’s got a ways to go before being mentioned in the same sentences as fighters like Luke Rockhold, Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza, and Lyoto Machida, his entrance into the middleweight top-15 might be a foregone conclusion. Whether Joe Rogan is willing to forgive the Canadian for his post-fight Fear Factor jab, however, remains to be seen.
Narvaez, on the other hand, moves to 7-2 overall, 1-2 in the UFC, and 1-1 since dropping from light heavyweight to middleweight.
Beneil Dariush Taps Darren Cruickshank
After missing weight by 2 pounds, things went from bad to worse for Darren Cruickshank. In a modest upset, the talented lightweight striker found himself on the receiving end of the finest performance of Beneil Dariush’s career.
Logic suggested that this fight was Cruickshank’s to win on the feet, and Dariush’s to win on the mat. Instead, the Assyrian-American dominated on both planes, punishing his opponent’s body with kicks, and soundly outperforming him in scrambles. After a one-sided first round, Dariush found Cruickshank’s neck, and coaxed a tap with a rear-naked choke.
In victory, Dariush moves to 10-1 overall, and 4-1 in the UFC. More importantly, he emerges as a definite prospect to watch in the crowded lightweight division. Cruickshank, on the other hand moves to 1-1-1 in his last 3.
Rosholt Pummels Copeland
While the first two rounds of this heavyweight bout were nothing to write home about, Jared Rosholt managed to put a definitive stamp on things late in the third round. His opponent, Josh Copeland, demonstrated decent offence and strong takedown defense in the first half of the fight, but eventually, the pressure of the decorated wrestler became too much for him to handle. It was a torrent of punches and elbows from top position that closed out the fight.
In victory, Rosholt bounces back from a disappointing knockout loss to Alexey Oleinik in November, and moves to a solid 4-1 in the UFC’s heaviest division. In defeat, Copeland slips to 9-2, entering a dangerous 2-fight skid.
Ryan Benoit Scores Upset Win over Sergio Pettis
Given the success of his older brother, much hype has surrounded UFC flyweight, Sergio Pettis. And while that hype may still prove justified, tonight was not a good night for the Pettis family.
After a dominant first round, Pettis found himself on the wrong end of a counter-left hook. His opponent, Dallas-native Ryan Benoit, didn’t waste a minute in finishing the job, raining down punches and forcing referee Herb Dean to intervene.
The loss is just the second of Pettis’ 14-fight career, but moves him to a less-than-impressive 3-2 UFC record. Benoit, on the other hand, moves to 1-1 in the world’s premier MMA organization, and 8-3 overall. This is the biggest win of 25-year-old flyweight’s career.
“Irish” Joe Duffy Scores First Round KO
In the second bout of the evening, Ireland’s Joseph Duffy—who is the last man to defeat Conor McGregor—impressed in his UFC debut with a first round knockout. With a crippling punch to the body, the Irishman sent his opponent, Jake Lindsey, crashing to the canvas.
Though he’s certainly got a long way to go, this win is the first step in setting up an eventual rematch with the much-hyped McGregor—something UFC matchmakers appear to have their long-range sights on.
De Randamie Stops Pacheco
In the first bout of the night, Dutch bantamweight Germaine De Randamie scored a TKO win over Larissa Pacheco. After mounting some significant offence in the first round, De Randamie sealed the deal with punches in the middle of the second round, moving to 2-1 since signing with the UFC back in 2013.
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