The climb up the pound for pound UFC ranks for Anthony Pettis continues Saturday night in Dallas, Texas when he takes on number one contender, Rafael dos Anjos. This is the first time back in Dallas for the UFC since last March, when Johny Hendricks defeated Robbie Lawler in their first fight for the welterweight championship. Not only is there one UFC championship fight, there is a women’s UFC title on the line as well. Carla Esparza will defend her UFC strawweight title as well against Poland’s own, Joanna Jedrzejczyk. This will be her first title defense, and the first title defense in UFC women’s strawweight history. Not to be outdone, Johny Hendricks returns to the cage in his hometown, hoping to get back on the UFC title hunt, but has a hungry and eager Matt Brown to halt the climb. The UFC will kick things off on Fight Pass 6:30 pm EST, switching over to FOX Sports 1 8 pm EST, then finally broadcasting on pay per view at 10 pm EST. Find the UFC 185 coverage and preview here, on the MMA Spotlight!
[C] Anthony Pettis (18-2) vs. #1 Rafael Dos Anjos (23-7) Lightweight Championship Bout – Dos Anjos deserves the shot, beat the people to earn the UFC title shot status, but getting there and taking the strap away from someone like Anthony Pettis is a whole other ball game. Pettis is arguably one, if the not most, well-rounded champion in the UFC. The only aspect left to his game to question is his wrestling. Dos Anjos is a well-rounded fighter in his own right, just not the caliber of the champion. Anthony Pettis screams fantasy score here, as he may very well get the finish later in the fight, and land a grotesque amount of strikes in the process. If there were a horse to ride on to win in fantasy land, the champ is the guy at UFC 185. Anthony Pettis via Technical Knockout.
[C] Carla Esparza (11-2) vs. #1 Joanna Jedrzejczyk (8-0) Strawweight Championship Bout – Newly crowned UFC champ has quite a task on her hands with the game ready Polish striker. Carla Esparza was dominating the strawweight division before it became a thing in the UFC, and has used precise grappling to grind her way through opponents. Joanna makes no buts about what she is going to do, she is going in there to claim another knockout to her belt. The striker may have only two striking finishes on her resume, but her striking is not to be played with. After watching both of their recent fights, the upper hand may surprisingly be Joanna’s side. She just recently knocked off the powerful Brazilian grappler Claudia Gadelha, who was considered the strongest wrestler in the UFC strawweight division. If she can get past her, she can survive Carla Esparza, and many should know, Carla will not be able to outstrike her. May not be a huge fantasy implication fight as it is a close toss-up to whom may win, but should be a fun title fight nonetheless. Joanna Jedrzejczyk via Unanimous Decision.
#1 Johny Hendricks (16-3) vs. #5 Matt Brown (21-12) Welterweight Bout – Hendricks looked lean and ready during his workouts, the weigh ins today should really paint a picture of where he is at. If the former UFC welterweight champion can get past the injury concerns and weight issues, he could easily work his way right back into a trilogy fight with the UFC welterweight champ, Robbie Lawler. Matt Brown was on quite a roll before being defeated by Lawler, and he will look to make a statement that he belongs in the upper tier in the welterweight division. If this was a five round fight, Brown may have gotten the nod here with his endurance and cardio. Just with three rounds though, Hendricks owns the power and the wrestling, and the hunger to once again to be champ. Brown has shown he can take a shot, which may draw this fight out. Total up the striking and possible take downs for “Big Rig” along with a win bonus it should turn out to be a pretty productive fantasy night for Hendricks. Johny Hendricks via Unanimous Decision.
#8 Roy Nelson (21-10) vs. #9 Alistair Overeem (38-14) Heavyweight Bout – This heavy-handed UFC bout should not last through he first round, stranger things have happened though. Nelson has one shot, one hand the can completely obliterate his opposition; with that one punch knockout power comes with a price. “Big Country” was and still is one of the most talented heavyweight practitioners in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, but now has become a one trick pony. Overeem on the other hand, has a well diverse attack, which was on display when he defeated Stefan Struve. That chin still comes into question, and with very little head movement, can “The Demolition Man” avoid the overhand right from Nelson? Fantasy implications should not be very high in this one, especially if it is over quickly. If the fight goes past the first round, Overeem has the fantasy advantage with the volume of strikes he may throw. Do not count on that happening what so ever, avoiding this fight to win the big bucks may be necessary. Roy Nelson via Technical Knockout.
#10 Chris Cariaso (17-6) vs. Henry Cejudo (7-0) Bantamweight Bout – Henry Cejudo had quite the performance in his last bout in the UFC. The former Olympian chose not to use his superior wrestling, choosing to instead out strike his opponent, showing everyone that he will not lay down and be a one-dimensional fighter. Cariaso himself is a very well versed fighter in all aspects of MMA, but is now overly dominant in one area over Cejudo. Henry Cejudo should rake in the fantasy points in this fight, and gain a victory. This is easily a high value play, and could be one of the steals of the night. Henry Cejudo via Unanimous Decision.
A few other fantasy factors to keep an eye on are the Pearson versus Stout fight, though a very exciting match up, it is also a very evenly matched up UFC fight. In what could be a potential “Fight of the Night” for UFC 185, it is quite difficult to predict a winner, side with caution on that bout. A potential sleeper on the UFC prelims is heavyweight Josh Copeland. “Cuddly Bear” has thunderous hands, and is usually very aggressive to finish fights. Copeland was somewhat hesitant in his UFC debut, and will be looking to make amends for that loss. Rosholt does not provide much movement on the feet, and has started to become more confident with his striking, which in turn, could lead to a semi entertaining bout. Watch out for the heavy hands of Copeland in that one. For anything and everything UFC, stay tuned into the MMA Spotlight for the latest coverage and results.
Commentary by Justin Huffman
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Guardian Liberty Voice sports writer leading the coverage in MMA