Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) brass are certainly delighted this Sunday morning following an absolutely sensational night of fights last evening (Sat., March 14, 2015) live on pay-per-view (PPV) from the American Airlines Center in Dallas, Texas.
Two title fights changed hands for the first time since UFC 92, as both Rafael Dos Anjos and Joanna Jędrzejczyk pulled off the upsets to take home the coveted UFC championship.
In the headlining feature, "RDA" completely shut-out "Showtime," earning a 50-45 unanimous decision victory in stunning and impressive fashion over the former champ (highlights here). The Brazilian did as he pleased against his American counterpart, putting on a workmanlike performance in executing his gameplan to perfection.
The co-main event saw Joanna Jędrzejczyk outclass Carla Esparza on the feet, earning the UFC strawweight title by finishing "The Cookie Monster" via (technical) knockout in the second round of their championship fight.
Biggest Winner: The Challengers
Rafael Dos Anjos and Joanna Jędrzejczyk not only became new UFC champions last night, but they did it in impeccable fashion.
In the co-main event, the Polish muay-thai sensation absolutely obliterated inaugural UFC women's strawweight champ Carla Esparza, knocking out "The Cookie Monster" in the second round with a thunderous flurry against the cage.
Joanna completely outclassed the desperate Esparza in both rounds, stuffing each and every takedown the champ had to offer before firing back with blistering shots in swift succession.
Esparza was little more than a punching bag for Jędrzejczyk, and the Polish native put the entire 115-pound division on notice that she is there to reign.
In the main event, Rafael Dos Anjos put on a performance of a lifetime as he shut out the UFC lightweight champ -- rising Wheaties super star and Dana White's 5th proclaimed pound-for-pound fighter in the world -- Anthony Pettis.
"RDA" was all over "Showtime" from the very first minute of the fight, not giving the champ an inch to breathe as he took the center of the cage and pushed forward. The Brazilian showed off his once again improved striking acumen, landing powerful shots on Pettis in each and every round.
Everything the new champ did in Dallas last night was calculated, infallible, and indomitable. When he wanted to take Pettis down, he did. When he wanted to punch him in the face, he did. When he wanted to land brutal body kicks, he did.
There really is only one thing left to say: What will Dos Anjos bring to the table if he is forced to rematch the returning Khabib Nurmagomedov later this year?
The former UFC welterweight champion came into UFC 185 wanting a crack at gold once more, and boy did "Bigg Rigg" earn it with a tremendous performance against the ever durable Matt Brown.
After a strong weight cut that saw "Bigg Rigg" hit 170 easily, Hendricks showed off an impressive gas tank as he set an incredible pace against "The Immortal." In the end, it was Hendricks' wrestling that earned him the victory, but it was an overall great mixed martial arts (MMA) strategy that will earn Hendricks another shot at the UFC title.
The real question is, can Hendricks keep his motor going once he hits the championship rounds? In his last fight with Robbie Lawler, the title was taken from him by "Ruthless" in the final frame that saw Hendricks gas.
With Lawler defending his title against Rory MacDonald in a rematch at UFC 189, you can bet Hendricks will be waiting in the wings to fight the winner.
Biggest Loser: The Pettis Brothers
A night that was meant to be a crowning achievement for the Pettis family went horribly wrong in nearly every way. First on the docket was Sergio Pettis -- the younger brother or now former UFC champ Anthony -- who was making his flyweight debut on the "Prelims" card against Ryan Benoit.
After an impressive first round, "The Phenom" was working himself into a groove right before Benoit cracked him with a vicious left hook that put out the younger Pettis in shocking fashion.
As older brother Anthony looked on in horror and disbelief in the locker room, little did he know only hours later he would be on the wrong end of a one-side beatdown at the hands of Rafael Dos Anjos.
"Showtime" lacked the flair and panache fans have become accustomed to seeing inside the Octagon as "RDA" simply outworked and out-pressured the UFC champ. Simply put, Dos Anjos' worked his gameplan to perfection in Dallas.
You have to wonder whether Pettis' performance was at all hindered by his younger brother's brutal knockout loss earlier in the evening. While some could say it may have motivated the normally calm and collected champ to a better performance, the poor results lend to the idea that "Showtime" was at the very least affected by it.
With Pettis being shut-out in the main event, the former champ will need to rise through the ranks once more before claiming another title shot. In my opinion, one or two more victories over a top five opponent earns Pettis a crack at UFC gold once more.
While Pettis' legacy may have taken a hit last night, there is no question the former champ still has a lot of fight left in him.
Runners-up: Carla Esparza
When Carla Esparza fought Rose Namajunas in The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) season 20 finale for the inaugural UFC women's strawweight title, many wondered if Namajunas eccentric striking style would hurt "The Cookie Monster."
As it turned out, Esparza's grappling credentials helped her avoid the stand-up exchanges, and ultimately helped to win her the UFC title via submission.
At UFC 185, the champ ran into a much stiffer test, with even more deadly striking that Namajunas had. Not only did Joanna Jędrzejczyk stuff Esparza's takedowns, but she did it easily and consistently. Midway through the first round the UFC champ was doing nothing other than desperately shooting in telegraphed takedown attempts.
The loss will be a tough pill for Esparza to swallow as she needs a ton of work on the feet to compete against elite strikers, but there is no question the former champ is still a force to be reckoned with in the 115-pound division.
For complete results from UFC 185: "Pettis vs Dos Anjos" click here.