The Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) heads to Dallas, Texas tonight (Mar. 14, 2015) for a star-studded UFC 185 pay-per-view (PPV) that features two title tilts.
In the PPV headliner, lightweight champion Anthony Pettis aims to solidify his place among the UFC's best with a win over Brazilian bruiser Rafael dos Anjos, while women's strawweight champion Carla Esparza makes the first defense of her belt against No. 1 contender Joanna Jedrzejczyk in the show's co-main event.
"Showtime" most recently tapped former Strikeforce lightweight champion Gilbert Melendez at UFC 181 in December. Pettis put the entire 155-pound division on notice after a long layoff due to injury, and filming The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) Season 20. His challenger, Dos Anjos, is one of the most dangerous fighters in the division and has beaten the likes of Nate Diaz and Benson Henderson in 2014.
"Cookie Monster" was the first pick by Team Pettis on TUF 20 and later became the first women's 125-pound champ in UFC history. Esparza won an intense, back-and-forth affair by fourth-round submission over Rose Namajunas in December. Jedrzejczyk is an undefeated muay-thai specialist, who scored a controversial split-decision victory over Nova Uniao product Claudia Gadelha also in December.
The fighters on the UFC 185 main card can all sling the leather and lock up a limb. February's UFC 184 PPV set the bar high for finishes with four on the main card. Are Pettis, Esparza and the rest of the night's fighters up to the task? Let's dive deeper into each matchup and find out!
One look at Pettis' mixed martial arts (MMA) track record will show you how explosive the world's best lightweight can be. The 28-year-old is as quick to knock your head off as he is to snatch up a sleep-inducing choke. Pettis has a penchant for first-round finishes and has toppled elite fighters such as Donald Cerrone and Benson Henderson.
Dos Anjos is as destructive as lightweights come. The Brazilian possesses eight career stoppages, and has wiped the floor with men like Diaz. He is quick, but not as quick as "Showtime." Dos Anjos has the power to make any fighter fall, and a chin that can withstand many a haymaker. We'll just have to see who lands first.
Esparza is serious about making her mark in the UFC and considers herself to be in the same class as every other UFC titleholder. Though the 27-year-old used her high school wrestling base to capture a title, she also employs some vicious ground-and-pound to go with it. Esparza has defeated Lynn Alvarez, Sarah Schneider and Cassie Trost all by T(KO).
Not a lot of people can pronounce her last name, but after Saturday night, you may just be calling her "Joanna Champion." Jedrzejczyk is a polish MMA fighter, with an expertise in muay-thai striking. She holds some of the fastest hands in the women's 125-pound division. However, she hasn't recorded a finish in the Octagon, yet.
The question here is: can Jedrzejczyk keep the fight standing long enough to pepper Esparza with elbows and knees?
Hendricks and Brown usually leave arenas with their pockets a little bit heavier than when they stepped into the Octagon. That's because between the two, they have been awarded 11 performance bonuses.
"Bigg Rigg" loves to loop his left hand bombs and put fighters on their back. The former Oklahoma State wrestler is relentless, but also has a limited gas tank. Hendricks had a horrendous weight cut prior to his UFC 181 title defense against Robbie Lawler, and was slow out of the gate in the championship rounds.
"The Immortal" has become a fan favorite, like Hendricks, because of his willingness to stand and bang. Brown is a talented kickboxer and is capable of putting together devastating combinations. The 34-year-old has knocked out welterweight contenders such as Erick Silva and Jordan Mein on his way to the top 170-pound food chain.
"Bigg Rigg" can't afford to slow down against a man with such stamina like Brown, or he may find himself on the wrong side of a decision loss again.
"Big Country" is famous for his beer belly and his missile of an overhand right. The former IFL heavyweight champion hasn't reached top contender status in his five-year UFC run, but has always given fight fans what they want to see. Each of his seven first-round wins have come by way of knockout.
"The Reem" has similarly fallen flat in his Octagon tenure, unable to best the biggest brutes at heavyweight. When he's firing on all cylinders, however, Overeem is one of the most revered strikers on the planet. The last time the former K-1 kickboxing champ fought, it was lights out for Stefan Struve in December.
If this fight ends in a decision it will be a travesty.
Neither of these flyweights will get you giddy for a knockout or submission finish. Each is adept at scoring points over their opponents.
Cariaso and Cejudo are somewhat similar in terms of fighting style; they both look to let the leather fly.
However, it's "The Messenger" who will have more weapons at his disposal. Cejudo is a renowned Olympic gold medalist in freestyle wrestling and may choose to take this fight to the ground as soon as the hint of trouble appears.
The longer the fight lasts it will benefit Cejudo. "Kamikaze" would be wise to blitz him early.
We've now covered all the bases on UFC 185's potentially bonus-worthy bouts.
Several weight classes are represented on the main card. Ten fighters are all vying for a piece of the performance bonus cash.
Hendricks is not too far from his native Oklahoma here in Dallas. Will "Bigg Rigg" steal the show from the featured fighters of the PPV as he said he intends to do?
Don't miss a minute of the action. Enjoy the fights ladies and gentleman!
Don't forget that MMAmania.com will deliver up-to-the-minute results and live fight coverage for UFC 185 tonight, including round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of all the "Pettis vs. Dos Anjos" action before, during, and after the event RIGHT HERE.