In a stacked pay-per-view (PPV) that could rival even the best of mixed martial arts (MMA) cards, Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) put on one heck of a show in Dallas, Texas last evening (Sat., March 14, 2015) with the UFC 185 pay-per-view (PPV) featuring two title fights that shook the MMA world to its core.
Rafael Dos Anjos was the big winner of the evening, as he handed UFC champ Anthony Pettis his first loss in nearly four years in the main event inside the American Airlines Center. Not only did "RDA" become the new lightweight kingpin, but he did it in stunning fashion, completely shutting down and shutting out the former champ "Showtime" in far too easy fashion.
Check out the highlights from the main event here.
In the co-main event, the Polish striking sensation Joanna Jędrzejczyk proved to be on a whole different level than inaugural UFC women's strawweight champ Carla Esparza, battering "The Cookie Monster" badly in their two round affair before mercifully finishing off the former champ in devastating fashion via (technical) knockout (highlights here).
With that quick recap of the night's marquee bouts, its now time to play matchmaker with our "Next Matches To Make."
Winner: Rafael Dos Anjos
Who Should He Fight Next: The winner of Khabib Nurmagomedov vs Donald Cerrone
After an absolutely impeccable performance at UFC 185, Rafael Dos Anjos will be the new target of every lightweight on the UFC roster, and there is more than a few legitimate title contenders waiting in the wings.
Although "RDA" will need to heal from his MCL tear he sustained prior to UFC 185, hopefully the injury won't keep him sidelined too long. If the Brazilian is fit to return in the summer, he will likely be defending his title for the first time in a rematch against either Khabib Nurmagomedov or Donald Cerrone.
In wildly different fights, the current champ defeated Cerrone via unanimous decision in 2013, but was ground into a fine paste via Nurmagomedov's smothering sambo and wrestling attack in the Brazilian's very next fight.
If "The Eagle" never injured his ACL, he likely would have been the man facing off against "Showtime" last night for the UFC title, but it was simply not meant to be.
With Nurmagomedov set to take on the streaking Cerrone -- who has won seven straight since his loss to "RDA" -- at UFC 187 in May, you can bet the winner will be taking on the newly minted champ in their next outing.
Winner: Joanna Jędrzejczyk
Who Should She Fight Next: Claudia Gadelha, Tecia Torres, or Joanne Calderwood
At this point, it is tough to pick the next fight for the newly minted women's strawweight champ as the division is still in its infancy stages inside the Octagon. Most every 115-pounder on the roster has only fought once under the UFC banner, so all the fighters who won their UFC debuts are technically in the running for a title shot.
Based on merit alone, I would love to see the Brazilian Claudia Gadelha get another crack at Jędrzejczyk. The two women met in a No. 1 contender bout last December, with the Polish native taking home the hotly contested split decision victory that earned her a crack at Carla Esparza.
Considering Claudia was far more competitive against the newly minted champ than Esparza was at UFC 185, I don't see how Gadelha could not be immediately considered the No. 1 contender. Throw in the fact that her initial bout with Jędrzejczyk was only three rounds, and you have a serious case for the Brazilian to be rematching the UFC champ her next time out.
Gadelha fights Aisling Daly next month in Poland, and a big win could set her up for the rematch she so badly wants.
If not the Brazilian, I would suspect UFC to match-up the Muay Thai specialist with flashy strikers in Tecia Torres, Joanne Calderwood, or maybe even the winner of Paige VanZant vs Felice Herrig.
Winner: Johny Hendricks
Who Should He Fight Next: Robbie Lawler or Rory MacDonald
So what if Johny Hendricks didn't finish Matt Brown. "The Immortal" has never once been stopped by strikes in his career, so give "Bigg Rigg" a break.
In the end, the former champ executed a perfect game plan to completely stunt any offense from Brown in their 15-minute PPV affair. While it may not have been the most aesthetically pleasing fight, Hendricks looked sharp in all aspects and got the all important win.
I would be absolutely shocked and disappointed if Hendricks was not granted his rightfully deserved shot at UFC gold once Robbie Lawler and Rory MacDonald settle the score at UFC 189.
Winner: Alistair Overeem
Who Should He Fight Next: Junior Dos Santos
It is time to finally make this fight, and hopefully nothing gets in the way of these two stepping into the Octagon against one another.
Overeem looked absolutely outstanding last night as he picked apart Roy Nelson in ruthless fashion. While UFC President Dana White wasn't happy that "The Reem" couldn't finish "Big Country" let me remind you that Nelson was not finished by interim champ Fabricio Werdum, former champ Junior Dos Santos, Stipe Miocic, and so on. The only man that could close the lights out on the heavyweight inside the Octagon was the great Mark Hunt, so let's put down the pitchforks people.
Last night was easily Overeem's strongest performance inside the Octagon, and although his penchant for keeping his hands low nearly had him seeing stars with only seconds left in the fight, "The Reem" came out of Dallas with his first UFC winning streak.
Now it is time to see two of the best heavyweight strikers in the world throw down once and for all.
Winner: Henry Cejudo
Who Should He Fight Next: Jussier Formiga
Henry Cejudo is absolutely the real deal ladies and gentleman. The former Olympic gold medalist made easy work of former No. 1 contender Chris Cariaso in his flyweight debut, once again showing off his flashy striking acumen and unrivaled wrestling game.
While Cejudo is 100% not ready to face the elite level of Demetrious Johnson, "The Messenger" deserves a top-five fight right now, and the best match-up is unquestionably a fight with Jussier Formiga.
The Brazilian has won two straight to solidify his spot at No. 5 in the division's rankings, and his jiu-jitsu black belt could give Cejudo some issues on the mat if the former Olympian decides to engage in the grappling department.
The winner of Formiga vs Cejudo could certainly vie for a title shot next, but let's not pretend that Demetrious Johnson would not be heavily favored over both men either way.
For complete results from UFC 185: "Pettis vs. Dos Anjos," including play-by-play updates, click here.