America is under attack by Brazil and Poland! Are you a bad enough dude (and lady) to save your belts?
Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) champions Anthony Pettis and Carla Esparza defend their Lightweight and women's Strawweight titles, respectively, against foreign invaders this Saturday (March 14, 2015) when they headline UFC 185 inside American Airlines Center in Dallas, Texas.
Looking to spoil their fun are Rafael Dos Anjos and Joanna Jedrzejczyk, both of whom are riding impressive win streaks.
Elsewhere on this finish-friendly pay-per-view (PPV) card, Matt Brown and Johny Hendricks will attempt to put their losses to Robbie Lawler behind them at the expense of each others' physical well-being, while Roy Nelson and Alistair Overeem duke it out in an amusingly asymmetrical battle of Heavyweight physiques.
The latter four "Prelims" under card matches will return to the promotion's former stomping grounds of FX Network (read our Fight Pass preview here).
Here's what's in store:
155 lbs.: Ross Pearson vs. Sam Stout
Ross Pearson (16-8) came back from his robbery "loss" to Diego Sanchez in a big way, knocking out former title contender Gray Maynard in the second round of their clash in Aug. 2014. Unfortunately for the English bruiser, he failed to halt the momentum of Al Iaquinta, suffering a second-round stoppage of his own in Sydney, Australia.
"Real Deal" owns 11 professional victories by stoppage.
Since his first-ever UFC knockout over Yves Edwards in 2011, Sam Stout (20-10-1) has alternated wins and losses, taking out Cody McKenzie in his last victory. In his most recent bout, he faced former Elite XC champion K.J. Noons in a mutually-agreed-upon Welterweight clash, which lasted 30 seconds before a Noons right hand gave Stout the first knockout loss of his career.
He owns nine knockout victories, though only one since 2007.
For a long time, Stout wore the label of "skilled kick boxer." That notion has been thoroughly disabused at this point -- he’s a gritty, aggressive striker with a decent wrestling game, but he is in no way a technician.
Unfortunately for him, Pearson is.
Though the Englishman has struggled in the past with power punchers, he remains one of the best boxers in the division. Stout doesn’t have the firepower to recreate the efforts of Swanson and Iaquinta, nor the takedown prowess to compensate. He’ll move forward all night, but that will just make the counters hurt more.
Pearson chews him up at range for the full15 minutes.
Prediction: Pearson via unanimous decision
185 lbs.: Elias Theodorou vs. Roger Narvaez
Representing his native Canada, Elias Theodorou (10-0) claimed victory on The Ultimate Fighter (TUF): "Nations," defeating countryman Sheldon Westcott on the Finale. He has since earned a second UFC victory by outlasting Brazilian grinding machine Bruno Santos in Oct. 2014.
He will give up two inches of height to Roger Narvaez (7-1).
Stepping up in weight on short notice, Narvaez came up short in his Octagon debut against the powerful Patrick Cummins. Returning to 185 pounds, "The Silverback" re-entered the win column with a late surge against Luke Barnatt.
The split decision victory was just his second trip to the judges in his professional career.
The problem with trying to scout Theodorou is that his two UFC opponents have been incredibly one-dimensional. For example, he showed he can handle someone with single-minded devotion to the takedown, but we’ve yet to see him against a high-level opponent who can strike and grapple.
Does Narvaez fit that mold? I’m honestly not sure.
Narvaez showed solid countering ability against the 6’6" Barnatt and some very nice finishing instincts in the third round, but a worrying lack of activity beforehand. If he does manage to rattle Theodorou, the Canadian is in for a world of hurt, as he will be if Narvaez can keep range. While Theodorou’s striking looks a little rough outside of close range, I do think he’ll be able to control this fight if he can consistently clinch with Narvaez.
Expect him to take the decision on volume.
Prediction: Theodorou via unanimous decision
155 lbs.: Daron Cruickshank vs. Beneil Dariush
Following a loss to Jorge Masvidal, Daron Cruickshank (16-5) scored his sixth victory in nine UFC appearances with a dominant performance against Anthony Njokuani. In his next appearance, he and Noons were putting on a show before an errant eye poke both ended the fight and resulted in Cruickshank getting a tear duct removed.
"Detroit Superstar" has knocked out nine of his professional opponents.
The UFC career of Beneil Dariush (9-1) opened with a rapid submission of Charlie Brenneman, only to hit a snag in his next appearance thanks to the fists of Ramsey Nijem. The Iranian Brazilian jiu-jitsu specialist has since found his groove, defeating fellow grapplers Tony Martin and Carlos Diego Ferreria in successive bouts.
Only his first and his most recent bout have gone past two rounds.
I’m very much looking forward to this one -- it’s a great match up with regard to both ranking and skill sets. Dariush is a lethal grappler with the striking and wrestling to throw off superior ground artists, while Cruickshank uses solid defensive wrestling to implement his kick-heavy striking attack.
It’ll be a good one ... I’ve got Cruickshank.
The three men that beat Cruickshank all controlled range on the feet and two of them also used quality wrestling to shut him down. Dariush, though superior on the ground, will have difficulty finding the same kind of success in the takedown department.
Cruickshank picks him apart from the outside before landing something ugly at the end of a fun first round.
Prediction: Cruickshank via first-round technical knockout
265 lbs.: Jared Rosholt vs. Josh Copeland
After a near-catastrophe in the first round of his Octagon debut against Walt Harris, Jared Rosholt (11-2) survived to rattle off three straight wins, most notably defeating Tongan "Hulk" Soa Palelei. His over-eagerness for a fourth cost him against Alexey Oleinik, who knocked the wrestling standout cold with a brutal left hand.
Prior to the defeat, he had won seven straight since his loss to Derrick Lewis in 2012.
Josh Copeland (9-1) punched his ticket to the UFC in July 2014, taking out Jan Jorgensen with first-round punches for the RFA Heavyweight belt. However, "Cuddle Bear" could not repeat his effort against Dagestani striker Ruslan Magomedov, dropping a unanimous decision to "The Leopard."
He has finished seven opponents ... four via submission.
For all of his talent, it seems Rosholt’s limiting factor is his punch resistance. Getting dropped by big hitters like Lewis and Harris is understandable; however, getting laid out by Oleinik -- who now has five knockouts in 60 fights -- is less so. From a technical perspective, he’s got Copeland outclassed everywhere.
It’s just a matter of applying those skills without getting blown away again by a lesser opponent.
If Rosholt comes out like an animal, as he did against Oleinik, Copeland has every chance of providing the same outcome. I believe, however, that "Big Show" will have learned his lesson, using a more measured pace and consistent takedowns to grind down "Cuddly Bear."
Prediction: Rosholt via unanimous decision
Two title fights and some guaranteed barn burners to wash them down with ... not bad at all.
See you Saturday, Maniacs!
Remember, too, that MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC 185 fight card, starting with the Fight Pass "Prelims" matches online, which are scheduled to begin at 6:30 p.m. ET, and then the remaining under card balance on FX Network (not FOX Sports 1) 1 at 8 p.m. ET before the PPV main card start time at 10 p.m. ET.