UFC 185 takes place Saturday night from Dallas, headlined by a UFC lightweight championship bout pitting champion Anthony Pettis against challenger Rafael Dos Anjos. Pettis has built a reputation as one of the most exciting and dynamic offensive forces in the sport and will seek to defend his title for the second time. Dos Anjos earned a title shot by winning 8 of his last 9 fights, including wins over Benson Henderson, Donald Cerrone, Nate Diaz, Evan Dunham and Mark Bocek. In other key fights, Carla Esparza defends the UFC women's strawweight title against Joanna Jedrzejczyk, Johny Hendricks and Matt Brown square off in an important welterweight slugfest and popular heavyweights Alistair Overeem and Roy Nelson square off.
UFC lightweight title: Anthony Pettis vs. Rafael Dos Anjos
Pettis, the lightweight champion, has an 18-2 record with consecutive dominant wins over Gilbert Melendez, Benson Henderson and Donald Cerrone. His crowning achievement may have been the "Showtime kick," his cage walk kick that is likely MMA's all time most impressive highlight. Dos Anjos is 8-1 in his last 9, adding impressive striking to go with his already excellent ground game. But he is the decided underdog against the champion.
Round 1. Pettis throws a high kick early that doesn't land. Dos Anjos answers with a pair of kicks to the body that do. Dos Anjos walks Pettis down and lands a big punch by the cage. He follows with a knee to the body. Dos Anjos pushes on with hard kicks to the body and punches to the head. Dos Anjos peppers Pettis with yet another kick to the body and goes back to the head with a punch. Dos Anjos is dominating this fight. Dos Anjos throws a body punch and another body kick. Pettis lands a coupe nice punches but eats a few in response. Dos Anjos continues to attack the body with that kick. Pettis lands a big uppercut, his biggest shot of the fight. But Dos Anjos goes right back to work. Dos Anjos then gets a takedown with a minute left in the round. Pettis gets up late and is caught with a few elbows and punches. That was a dominant round for Dos Anjos. Borderline 10-8. 10-9 Dos Anjos.
Round 2. Dos Anjos moves in and looks for a takedown. He doesn't get it and Pettis lands a hard body kick. Pettis is bleeding near the eye. Pettis lands a series of punches from close range. Dos Anjos goes for the takedown again and gets it. Dos Anjos works over Pettis with punches from the top. Dos Anjos drops occasional elbows and keeps the pressure from the top. Another dominant, borderline 10-8 round. 10-9 Dos Anjos, just barely.
Round 3. Dos Anjos lands a crisp straight left hand early. Pettis lands a nice head kick but Dos Anjos walks right through and hits Pettis with a solid straight punch. Dos Anjos gets a takedown with three minutes left in the round. Pettis postures up his legs, looking for a submission, but doesn't come close. Pettis is able to stand up with two minutes left in the round. Dos Anjos keeps pushing the pace, landing punches and preventing Pettis from getting set for offense of his own. Dos Anjos gets another takedown late. Pettis gets up but is taken right back down. Another dominant round. 10-9 Dos Anjos.
Round 4. Dos Anjos lands some big punches on Pettis and walks him down against the cage. Dos Anjos looks for yet another takedown and slams Pettis down. Dos Anjos works into side control and looks to grab a kimura for the submission. Pettis clasps his hands together trying to prevent it from being extended. Pettis gets out of trouble and returns to his feet. Dos Anjos clinches by the cage and yanks Pettis back down. Dos Anjos is dominant. It's going to take a miracle for Pettis to keep his title tonight. 10-9 Dos Anjos.
Round 5. They trade low kicks and Dos Anjos moves in for another takedown. He gets it and Pettis has three and a half minutes left in his title run. Dos Anjos works his way into side control. Pettis stands back up halfway through the round but Dos Anjos maintains the clinch. Dos Anjos dumps Pettis right back down. Pettis looks for a kimura from the bottom but can't get it and Dos Anjos takes a body triangle. He flattens out Pettis and the fight comes to an end. 10-9 Dos Anjos, 50-45 Dos Anjos.
Winner: Rafael Dos Anjos, unanimous decision (50-45, 50-45, 50-45).
UFC women's strawweight title: Carla Esparza vs. Joanna Jedrzejczyk
Esparza is the first UFC women's strawweight champion. She won a tournament on the Ultimate Fighter with many of the best fighters in the weight class and has 8 wins in a row including those bouts and her official fights. She is principally a ground fighter. Jedrzejczyk is an undefeated Polish fighter with excellent striking.
Round 1. The first time Jedrzejczyk throws a punch, Esparza ducks down for a takedown. Jedrzejczyk lands an elbow, blocks the takedown, and backs off. Esparza shoots in moments later. Jedrzejczyk blocks it nicely at first. Esparza gets her down, but Jedrzejczyk is able to quickly stand up. Esparza lands a punch and backs off. Esparza then goes for another takedown. She gets it halfway through the round, but Jedrzejczyk stands up again. As Esparza is backing off, she eats a heavy elbow and appears hurt a little. Esparza looks for another takedown but eats an elbow and has it blocked. Esparza goes for a throw but again can't get it. Jedrzejczyk lands a couple punches and Esparza goes for the takedown again. Jedrzejczyk stops that and lands another punch. Jedrzejczyk stuffs another takedown and lands the biggest punch yet on the feet. She lands a few more late in the round. 10-9 Jedrzejczyk.
Round 2. Jedrzejczyk lands another big punch early and Esparza goes for the takedown. It's stuffed again. Jedrzejczyk adds additional hard shots by the cage and Esparza goes back to the takedown attempts that have been to this point futile. Jedrzejczyk brutalizes Esparza with punches by the cage. Jedrzejczyk blocks another takedown and lands a few more of her punches. It continues to be more of the same, with Jedrzejczyk landing her hard punches and Esparza continuing to go for takedowns that fail. Finally, Jedrzejczyk opens up by the cage and the referee mercifully steps in.
Winner: Joanna Jedrzejczyk, TKO, round 2.
Johny Hendricks vs. Matt Brown
This has the makings of a very exciting fight with two action fighters who need a win. Hendricks is coming off losing the UFC welterweight title to Robbie Lawler and is looking to get a rematch with Lawler in what would be a trilogy rubber match. He has excellent wrestling and knockout power. Brown was closing in on a title shot after 7 straight wins before a loss to Lawler that earned Lawler that title shot instead. He is a tough as nails bruiser who comes forward and looks for knockouts.
Round 1. Brown throws out a few jabs and Hendricks responds with some heavy hooks. He then scoops Brown up, lifts him high overhead, and slams him to the mat. Brown quickly returns to the feet and attacks. Brown throws a few straight punches before Hendricks grabs a bodylock. He looks to take Brown down but Brown stops it. Hendricks then grabs a leg and gets a takedown that way. He ends up in Brown's full guard and drops some punches by the cage. Brown looks for a triangle. Hendricks postures up to avoid it but that allows Brown to stand up. On the feet, Brown lands some nice punches and elbows, as well as knees to the body. He lands a series of big punches in a very short time. Hendricks lifts up Brown and gets another takedown. He looks to pass guard by the cage. He can't, but he keeps Brown grounded for the remainder of the round. 10-9 Hendricks.
Round 2. Hendricks takes Brown down early. Brown gets back up but on the feet, Hendricks lands some of his best punches of the fight. Hendricks scoops up Brown with ease yet again and takes him back to the mat. Hendricks keeps his forearm against the face of Brown and drops occasional punches. After a standup, Hendricks lands a few punches and nice low kick. Brown counters with a hard punch but Hendricks appears to stun Brown a little with a counter. Hendricks follows with punches by the cage and takes Brown down one more time. Hendricks, getting more confident, lets Brown up. He lands a hard overhand left and follows with more punches by the cage. Brown looks to answer back with punches of his own but Hendricks takes him down once again. Hendricks mauled Brown that round. 10-8 Hendricks.
Round 3. Hendricks slips early but he gets back up before Brown can capitalize. Brown moves in with punches and a knee but Hendricks ducks down and gets another takedown. Brown looks for a reverse triangle choke but gives up on it and gets back to his feet. Brown lands a few elbows from close range but Hendricks takes him down again. Hendricks gets side control and lands punches there. Brown looks for that reverse triangle again but can't get it and Hendricks ends up back in side control. Brown lands a series of punches from the bottom and looks to set up submissions but he can't get it. 10-9 Hendricks, 30-26 Hendricks.
Winner: Johny Hendricks, unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27).
Alistair Overeem vs. Roy Nelson
Overeem is one of the sport's most feared strikers, a former Strikeforce, K1 and Dream heavyweight champion. However, he has lost 3 of his last 5 fights via knockout, with his always suspect chin getting worse with age. Offensively, he is as dangerous as ever. Nelson, a colorful character, is known for his big belly and shaggy beard. He has an excellent jiu jitsu background but has turned into a knockout striker with an excellent chin and heavy hands.
Round 1. The fighters feel each other out for a while. Overeem lands a hard knee to the body, the first significant shot of the fight. Overeem follows with a couple of leg kicks. Nelson moves in with a couple of punches but they don't land cleanly. Overeem lands another big knee. Nelson backs Overeem against the cage and throws a series of hard punches at Overeem but they don't get through Overeem's guard. Overeem retaliates with a few kicks to the thigh. Nelson looks for a takedown but doesn't get it. Overeem lands a heavy knee to the body and follows with a big kick to the body. Nelson winces in pain but Overeem doesn't pursue. Overeem lands another knee to the body late. Big round for Overeem. 10-9 Overeem.
Round 2. Nelson looks for his big overhand right but eats a stiff jab and has to back off. Nelson stuns Overeem with a straight punch up the middle but lacks the energy to follow up and Overeem recovers. Overeem lands a front kick and runs out of the way of Nelson coming forward. Overeem goes for a takedown but has it stuffed and Nelson swings wildly at him with an uppercut. Overeem connects with a knee to the body and kick to the body. Nelson gets Overeem against the cage again and lands a few punches to the body before backing up. Overeem throws a knee to the body and attacks with additional punches before Nelson fires back and Overeem backs off. Nelson has Overeem by the cage again late but can't find a spot to attack through Overeem's guard. 10-9 Overeem.
Round 3. Overeem opens with a body kick and straight punch. Both men look tired. Nelson eats an accidental knee to the groin as he's moving in. After a break, Overeem uses an unusual spinning elbow. Overeem goes for a takedown but doesn't get it. Nelson throws an uppercut that looks like it connects solidly but a tired Nelson goes for a takedown rather than trying to finish with strikes. Overeem lands a head kick that looks like it hurts Nelson and then lands another moments later. Nelson goes for a takedown but doesn't come close. Overeem lands another flying knee to the body. Nelson drops Overeem with a punch late but is too tired and just goes for a takedown rather than trying to get the TKO late. 10-9 Nelson, 29-28 Overeem.
Winner: Alistair Overeem, unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27).
Larissa Pacheco vs. Germaine de Randamie
Pacheco, only 20, built up an impressive 10-0 record on smaller shows. However, in her UFC debut she was thoroughly dominated by Jessica Andrade. She looks for her first UFC win tonight. The Dutch kickboxer de Randamie has an impressive striking background but her MMA career has produced mixed results as she holds a 4-3 record.
Round 1. De Randamie opens with some kicks and then lands the first big shot of the fight, a straight right hand to the chin of her Brazilian opponent. De Randamie lands a nice uppercut moments later. De Randamie continues to connect with the bigger shots until finally Pacheco goes for a takedown with 90 seconds left in the round. De Randamie prevents that and lands a big knee before a separation. De Randamie lands some more big shots late. One sided round for De Randamie. 10-9 De Randamie.
Round 2. De Randamie continues to tag Pacheco. She lands a big uppercut and follows with additional looping punches by the cage and the referee steps in.
Winner: Germaine de Randamie, TKO, round 2.
Joseph Duffy vs. Jake Lindsey
Duffy makes his UFC debut after accumulating a 12-1 record outside the organization. He is best known for submitting Conor McGregor in just 38 seconds back in 2010. Given McGregor's current stature in the sport, it is a win that holds up well. Duffy also holds a win over the highly regarded Norman Parke. Lindsey has a 9-2 MMA record but has turned in bad performances in each of his UFC fights (both losses).
Round 1. Lindsey utilizes some nice leg kicks early but Duffy responds with some solid combinations blending straight punches with leg kicks of his own. Duffy stuns Lindsey with a left high kick. He drops Lindsey with a followup punch and lands a few additional punches on the ground before the referee stops the fight. Tremendous UFC debut for Duffy.
Winner: Joseph Duffy, TKO, round 1.
Sergio Pettis vs. Ryan Benoit
Sergio Pettis, the younger brother of main eventer Anthony, is 12-1 and still just 21 years old. He is 3-1 in the UFC, showing promise but nothing yet resembling the flair of his older brother. Benoit is a lightly regarded striker with a 7-3 record including finishes in every victory.
Round 1. Pettis comes out strong, catching Benoit with a solid head kick and then staggering him with a right hand. Benoit recovers quickly but is struggling to match the speed and power of Pettis. Benoit gets a takedown halfway through the round, but Pettis very quickly elevates Benoit and takes top position himself. Benoit looks for a guillotine but can't get it and Pettis simply stands up. On the feet, Pettis goes to town with flashy kicks that creates a hematoma on the face of Benoit. Pettis then takes Benoit down and lands some punches on the ground to close. Pettis looked phenomenal there. 10-8 Pettis.
Round 2. Pettis kicks off the second round with the same dominance he exhibited in the first. He moves in and out with some crisp punches to the body and head of Benoit. Then in the middle of this, Benoit drops Pettis with a left hook. He follows with punches on the ground and the fight is stopped. That was one of the most improbable comebacks you're ever going to see. Pettis was completely dominating Benoit before the comeback out of nowhere. Benoit's victory was diminished somewhat after the fight, as he kicked Pettis for no reason after the referee stopped the fight and was pulling him away.
Winner: Ryan Benoit, TKO, round 2.
Jared Rosholt vs. Josh Copeland
Rosholt comes from a wrestling background and has an MMA record of 11-2. He remains vulnerability to striking, however. Copeland, AKA "Cuddly Bear," is 9-1 and is tough if unrefined.
Round 1. Rosholt looks for a takedown a minute in. He can't get close enough so he shoots again a little bit later. This time he grabs a clinch and fights for a takedown by the cage. Copeland lands a few uppercuts in the process before the referee separates them. In the standup, Rosholt lands a hard right hand. As Rosholt comes in, he's hurt by a hard counter right hand by Copeland. Rosholt clinches and they trade knees by the cage at the end. Slow round with neither man accomplishing much. 10-9 Copeland.
Round 2. Rosholt looks for a takedown 30 seconds in but basically bounces off Copeland. Rosholt looks for it again and again doesn't come close but he lands a right hook while he's backing off. Rosholt shoots in once more and has it blocked yet again. Copeland lands a solid punch as Rosholt comes in. Rosholt goes for another takedown and finally gets it. He impressively lifts Copeland up and dumps him on his head. Rosholt traps Copeland against the cage and lands punches from side control. 10-9 Rosholt.
Round 3. Rosholt, confident after his success late in the previous round, pushes in for a takedown and gets it a minute into the final stanza. Rosholt gets side control and drops some heavy elbows on the head of Copeland. Rosholt keeps landing shots and the fight is stopped.
Winner: Jared Rosholt, TKO, round 3.
Daron Cruickshank vs. Beneil Dariush
Cruickshank is a dynamic striker who is 6-3 (1 NC) in the UFC including a highlight reel knockout of Erik Koch. Dariush, an Assyrian-American fighter born in Iran, is 9-1 and is coming off a pair of impressive wins. Both fighters need to win impressively to turn heads in a deep lightweight division.
Round 1. Cruickshank lands a high kick a minute in and Dariush answers with a stiff kick to the body. He lands another moments later. Cruickshank is using his hands more than Dariush, who keeps setting up kicks and is targeting the body in particular. Dariush follows with a knee and another of those vicious body kicks. Cruickshank looks for a flying knee but Dariush catches it and takes Cruickshank down. Dariush follows with elbows and punches on the ground and looks for a D'Arce choke late that he can't apply. 10-9 Dariush.
Round 2. Cruickshank looks for a takedown early but can't get it. Dariush pushes in and lands a knee to the head. A scramble ensues and Dariush looks to take Cruickshank's back. He is too high but transitions into an armbar attempt. Cruickshank avoids that and grabs a body triangle. He sinks in a rear naked choke and gets the tap.
Winner: Beneil Dariush, submission, round 2.
Elias Theodorou vs. Roger Narvaez
Theodorou won Ultimate Fighter Nations: Canada vs. Australia and has run up a perfect 10-0 record. Narvaez is a gritty 31 year old fighter coming off a big win over Luke Barnatt in the UFC.
Round 1. Narvaez throws a knee and Theodorou clinches. Theodorou lands some body knees and they separate. Narvaez lands a couple punches and looks to establish a range that takes advantage of his reach. Narvaez is able to land some effective counterpunches when Theodorou moves in and tries to close that distance. Theodorou and Narvaez continue to fight at range on relatively even terms. 10-9 Narvaez.
Round 2. Theodorou gets a takedown. Narvaez works his way back up to his feet impressively in short order. Theodorou goes back to work with a series of kicks, including a lot of high ones, that land solidly and slow Narvaez down. Narvaez gets a takedown and lands a long series of punches to the side of the head until the referee finally stops it.
Winner: Elias Theodorou, TKO, round 2.
Ross Pearson vs. Sam Stout
Pearson is one of the most popular British fighters, winning and then coaching on the Ultimate Fighter and scoring UFC victories over Dennis Siver, Spencer Fisher and Gray Maynard. Stout first fought in the UFC in 2006 and is known for his quick striking style. However, he has struggled in recent years and appears to be a fighter on the decline.
Round 1. Stout lands a couple of nice combinations early but Pearson retaliates with a pair of hard right hands to the chin of Stout. The fight settles into a typical Sam Stout fight: relatively quick pace with repeated combinations from distance. Pearson lands a hard uppercut late. Very close round. 10-9 Pearson.
Round 2. The second round starts like the first, then Pearson catches Stout with a hard left hook that floors Stout. Pearson follows with a few additional punches on the ground and that's it.
Winner: Ross Pearson, TKO, round 2.
Henry Cejudo vs. Chris Cariaso
Cejudo is an Olympic gold medalist in wrestling and 7-0 in MMA. He is thought to be an eventual title challenger in a shallow 125 pound weight class, but has struggled to make weight in the division. Cariaso is coming off a title shot at the 125 pound title, but he turned in a listless performance and was submitted by champion Demetrious Johnson.
Round 1. Cariaso lands a body kick at the start of the fight. Cejudo comes in swinging wildly, clinches, and takes Cariaso down. Cejudo drops down a few punches then looks to pass guard. Cariaso stands up but eats a few knees to the body in the process. Cariaso throws another body kick, but then receives a hook and a few additional punches from Cejudo. Cejudo gets another takedown. Cariaso stands up momentarily but is pulled back down. Cariaso works his way back up again and lands another nice boy kick late in the round. 10-9 Cejudo.
Round 2. Cejudo takes Cariaso down. He lands a few punches but isn't able to do much damage and Cariaso gets back up. Cejudo uses a body kick and superman punch and takes Cariaso back down. Cejudo lands a few punches and lets Cariaso back up. Cejudo uses another body kick, which has been a primary weapon for both men in this fight. 10-9 Cejudo.
Round 3. Cejudo grabs Cariaso's leg and takes him down to the mat one more time. Cejudo lands some elbows and punches on the ground from half guard position. The fighters return to the feet. We get some more tepid standup and Cejudo gets another takedown. The crowd appears to have collectively fallen asleep. Cejudo attacks the neck late but can't get a submission. 10-9 Cejudo, 30-27 Cejudo.
Winner: Henry Cejudo, unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27).