Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) lightweights Anthony Pettis and Raphael dos Anjos dueled last night (March, 14, 2015) at UFC 185 inside American Airlines Center in Dallas, Texas.
To watch full fight video highlights of Anthony Pettis vs. Rafael dos Anjos click here.
With the way Pettis had been dispatching foes, it was only a matter of time until "Showtime" became a major star. To do so, he just had to continue winning in his typically extraordinary fashion, and Pettis looked to make dos Anjos his next victim.
Dos Anjos has been overlooked before, and with violent consequences. The dangerous Brazilian attacked his opponent with usual aggression and was determined to leave the Octagon with some new hardware.
He did just that.
Immediately, dos Anjos walked down Pettis and began firing off body kicks. With Pettis' back to the fence, the two fighters began to rapidly exchange heavy punches. For much of the round, both fighters swung at each other in a true firefight.
However, dos Anjos was consistently landing the heavier shots. He landed numerous cracking kicks to the ribs, and his left hand was on point. Then, to put the finishing touches on the first round, dos Anjos scored a nice double leg takedown with about a minute remaining.
It was an incredibly dominant start for the challenger.
Early in the second round, dos Anjos continued to walk Pettis into the fence and exchange with him. His straight left continued to hammer into Pettis' face, and it was making Pettis hesitant. This time, dos Anjos initiated the takedown earlier in the round.
From the top, dos Anjos' superior jiu-jitsu skills shined. He avoided each of Pettis' arm bar attempts, pushed his head into the fence, and smashed elbows into his skulls.
By the end of the second, Pettis' right eye was nearly swollen shut.
The third round was a continuation of the first two. On the feet, Pettis was able to land effectively from the center of the Octagon, but dos Anjos would force him into the fence. From that position, he was able to land the more effective strikes and complete takedowns.
This time, Pettis was able to scramble up to his feet a couple of times. Unfortunately for "Showtime," dos Anjos simply put him right back on the mat.
With three rounds down, Pettis needed to do something dramatic.
The fourth was yet another dominant round for the challenger. Dos Anjos continued to employ his excellent strategy, and it worked brilliantly. On the mat, dos Anjos really stepped up his jiu-jitsu attack, nearly securing a kimura and taking the back. To his credit, Pettis remained very tough and never broke, continuing to fight against his opponent and escaping some bad positions.
The final frame undoubtedly required a finish from Pettis. "Showtime" definitely went for it, opening the round with a flying knee, but dos Anjos simply continued to employ his pressure heavy game plan. For much of the final five minutes, dos Anjos controlled his opponent from top position.
At the end of the fight, all three judges scored each round for the new champion, Raphael dos Anjos.
Dos Anjos fought perfectly. He pressured his opponent constantly and did not allow Pettis free reign to kick him. Instead, he immediately opened up with his own kicking game, damaging Pettis early and often.
"Rafa" also did an excellent job attacking the body. From the very beginning of the fight, he was ramming kicks into his opponent's liver. Plus, he was frequently slipping off the center line to deliver heavy body shots.
Considering how ineffective Pettis was late in the fight, it definitely paid dividends.
Finally, dos Anjos jiu-jitsu was more than on point. I've been a believer that dos Anjos possesses some of the best submission grappling in the UFC's lightweight division for some time, and this definitely strengthened his argument. He easily maneuvered through Pettis' submissions, passed his opponent's guard, and then attacked with his own submissions.
Dos Anjos was simply better everywhere.
The champion's first title defense will undoubtedly come against the winner of Khabib Nurmagomedov and Donald Cerrone. Additionally, a potential match up between Benson Henderson and Michael Johnson could create a legitimate challenger.
Unfortunately for Pettis, he was utterly dominated from start to finish. His habit of relaxing against the fence really came back to bite him, as he was torn up by dos Anjos' power strikes. When the two were exchanging in the center of the Octagon, Pettis was doing just fine, but things got bad for Pettis quickly when pressured.
The bright side of this loss is that Pettis knows precisely what he needs to work on. The short answer to that is circling without backing into the cage, counter punching, and defensive wrestling. If Pettis works hard on each of those areas, the current game plan to defeating Pettis will be much more difficult to enact.
For Pettis' next bout, I'd like to see him take on a challenger who can test him in these same areas. For example, Myles Jury has the intelligence and skill level to threaten Pettis in these same areas, but Pettis can definitely take him out if he trains for it and fights intelligently.
The former champion is still young and has time to improve. Fans shouldn't count him out after this devastating loss.
At UFC 185, Raphael dos Anjos smashed Anthony Pettis for the entirety of five rounds. Just how good is Raphael dos Anjos?
For complete UFC 185: "Pettis vs dos Anjos" results and play-by-play results click HERE!