Two titles, one night and plenty more where that came from.
This Saturday night (March 14, 2015), Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) heads down to American Airlines Center in Dallas, Texas, bringing with it a pair of title fights atop a stacked pay-per-view (PPV) card.
In UFC 185's main event, Lightweight kingpin Anthony Pettis will look for his second title defense against Rafael dos Anjos, who has taken out eight of his last nine opponents. Forty pounds south, newly-minted Strawweight champion, Carla Esparza, will make her first defense against Polish striking machine Joanna Jedrzejczyk.
In addition, knockout enthusiasts Johny Hendricks and Matt Brown collide at Welterweight, while Alistair Overeem and Roy Nelson attempt to rebound from their recent knockout losses in a hard-hitting Heavyweight clash.
We've got seven "Prelims" under card bouts in store on top of that, the first three of which will stream online via Fight Pass and the rest on FX Network.
Let's look at the former below:
125 lbs.: Sergio Pettis vs. Ryan Benoit
Sergio Pettis' (12-1) hype hit a roadblock two Januaries ago when a late mistake resulted in a career-first submission loss to Alex Caceres. "The Phenom" has since won two straight, most recently surviving an early knockdown to beat down Matt Hobar in Dec. 2014.
This will be his first UFC appearance at Flyweight.
The power-punching Ryan Benoit (7-3) was last seen in Nov. 2013, taking on former CFA champion Josh Sampo in both their Octagon debuts. Though he wound up losing via submission in the second round, Benoit walked away with "Fight of the Night," taking home the full $100,000 thanks to his foe’s inability to make weight.
All seven of his wins are by finish, including six by knockout.
There is a very good chance that this fight winds up being incredibly awesome. In addition to his punching power, Benoit is also a very capable scrambler -- he’s going to make Sergio work no matter where they end up.
Unfortunately, there’s a difference between "make him work" ... not "beat him."
Pettis has gone a long way toward addressing the flaws that made me leery of picking him in the past. His takedown defense has improved quite a bit and it seems like he’s really hurting people with his strikes. At 125 pounds, where he’s less likely to be physically outmatched every fight, I expect him to really come into his own.
He stops Benoit with punches late in the second.
Prediction: Pettis by second-round technical knockout
155 lbs.: Jake Lindsey vs. Joseph Duffy
Jake Lindsey (9-2) entered UFC on the heels of three straight first-round knockouts, raising his total career finishes to seven. He has yet to find that same success in the UFC, suffering consecutive stoppage losses to Jon Tuck and Olivier Aubin-Mercier.
He was slated to face James Moontasri in February before withdrawing and replacing Vagner Rocha here.
After his first career loss in Oct. 2011, Joseph Duffy (12-1) took a hiatus from the sport to give professional boxing a try, racking up seven wins in the process. He returned in Aug. 2014, scoring finishes in each of his two 2014 bouts.
His eight submission victims include Norman Parke and Conor McGregor.
Duffy definitely looks like someone to keep an eye on -- barring a worrying tendency to just eat leg kicks rather than check them, there’s a lot to like about his game. He’s got slick hands, plenty of speed and aggression and finishing ability in all facets of the game.
Lindsey, by contrast, is kinda just not very good.
It will take a truly legendary amount of Octagon jitters or a brain fart of epic proportions for Duffy to lose this fight. The Irishman tears Lindsey up on the feet, eventually locking up a fight-ending sub when Lindsey gets overly desperate to grapple.
Prediction: Duffy via second-round submission
135 lbs.: Larissa Pacheco vs. Germaine de Randamie
The 20-year-old Larissa Pacheco (10-1) tore through the competition in her native Brazil, scoring finishes in each of her first 10 fights. Despite this momentum, she wilted against the onslaught of Jessica Andrade, tapping to a guillotine late in the first round.
Six of her 10 victories are by form of submission.
Germaine de Randamie (4-3) rattled off two straight wins after her loss to Julia Budd, defeating Hiroko Yamanaka in her final Strikeforce appearance and Julie Kedzie in her Octagon debut. In her sophomore UFC bout, the Muay Thai standout struggled with the offensive onslaught of Amanda Nunes, who took her out with elbows from mount late in the first round.
This will be the first appearance for "The Iron Lady" since Nov. 2013.
Pacheco’s got plenty of raw talent, but I do think he UFC call up was premature. She’s still extremely green -- her aggressive submission assault comes at the cost of poor positional control and she has a nasty habit of leaving her head straight up and immobile during her punching combinations.
Against a striker as skilled as de Randamie -- who also figures to have the takedown defense to counter the Brazilian’s limited wrestling -- those are bad flaws to have.
With some time and solid coaching, Pacheco is certainly capable of becoming a factor at 135 pounds. At this time, however, she’s just too raw -- de Randamie counters her way to victory in what should be practically a pure striking affair.
Prediction: de Randamie via unanimous decision
Four more UFC 185 "Prelims" under card matches to preview and predict tomorrow, including three The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) veterans looking for wins.
Stop by tomorrow for the lowdown, 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.