After a week off from mixed martial arts (MMA) festivities, Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) returns to the forefront with a sensational UFC 185 pay-per-view (PPV) event that is absolutely stacked to the gills with intriguing and consequential bouts.
Headlining the show will be UFC 155-pound kingpin Anthony Pettis, as the savvy striker will look to take out No. 1 ranked contender Rafael Dos Anjos in a highly-anticipated title fight. This event will mark the first time "Showtime" has earned the main event billing as UFC champ.
The co-main event will once again feature women for the second PPV in a row, as inaugural 115-pound champ Carla Esparza looks to take out the undefeated Polish native Joanna Jędrzejczyk. "Cookie Monster" has not lost in nearly four years, while Joanna has been undefeated since 2012.
UFC 185 goes down this Saturday night (March 14, 2015) on PPV live from inside the American Airlines Center in Dallas, Texas. With two title fights to look forward to alongside several important bouts, MMAmania.com pondered "Five Burning Questions" heading into this weekend.
5. Henry Cejudo: Contender or pretender?
Henry Cejudo was easily one of the most highly-touted athletes to make the transition into MMA, and for years pundits and fans alike speculated as to whether or not "The Messenger" had what it takes to become a legitimate contender in UFC.
After a botched weight cut to 125 in what was meant to be his Octagon debut back at UFC 177, the former Olympic gold medalist agreed to move up to 135, and made his debut by utterly thumping a tough Dustin Kimura back at UFC on FOX 13.
While Kimura is an intriguing prospect in his own right, it was clear from the get-go that he had nothing to offer the former Olympian. UFC officials realized quickly that Cejudo has the potential to be something special, so matchmakers opted to throw "The Messenger" into a bout with former No. 1 flyweight contender Chris Cariaso.
Although "Kamikaze" was easily put out by UFC champ Demetrious Johnson in his last outing, don't sleep on the MMA veteran's abilities. If Cejudo can make the 125 pound limit, and put a beating on Cariaso this weekend, the flyweight division will have a brand new challenger to look out for.
4. Can Alistair Overeem's chin hold up against Roy Nelson?
UFC brass either really enjoys watching Alistair Overeem crumble to the ground like a sack of potatoes, or they really want to see if "The Reem" can take a punch to land a punch against the heavyweight elite.
Before knocking out Stefan Struve at UFC on FOX 13, Overeem had been knocked out in three of his previous four outings. In his career, the former Strikeforce berserker has lost 14 times, and nine of those have been via knockout.
Considering Overeem is fighting a finishing machine in Roy Nelson -- who has 13 knockouts in 20 career victories -- this match-up seems destined for "The Reem" to lose his consciousness yet again.
The Dutchman will need to show off an improved chin and put together a perfect game plan to avoid becoming the latest "Big Country" victim.
3. Just how big of a star is Anthony Pettis?
Wondering how many PPV buys Pettis' highly anticipated rematch against Benson Henderson way back at UFC 164 garnered?
UFC 164 is the only PPV "Showtime" has headlined, but he did earn a co-main event slot for his title defense over Gilbert Melendez at UFC 181 -- which sold a reported 400,000 PPV buys.
Now that Pettis is seemingly healthy, it will be very intriguing to see how well UFC 185 performs. Sure, Rafael Dos Anjos is not exactly the perfect opponent to sell a boatload of PPV's, but "Showtime's" eccentric fighting style in itself should at least be garnering the interests of casual fighting fans.
Every hardcore MMA fan knows that when Pettis steps into the cage, something wild and crazy is more than likely to happen, and his panache and pizzazz inside the ring is not matched by anyone currently on UFC's roster.
Expect the champ to be tested inside the cage this weekend against the ever-tough Brazilian, but the secondary test is whether or not "Showtime" can bring in massive PPV buys.
2. Does Jędrzejczyk bring anything to the table that Esparza has yet to handle?
There is a growing contingent of people who truly believe Joanna Jędrzejczyk has what it takes to snatch the UFC title from Carla Esparza.
The Polish native -- who opted not to appear on The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) and fight for the inaugural belt -- is an excellent boxer with crisp combinations that rival most women in either of the two UFC divisions.
While Esparza's striking is not at the same level, "The Cookie Monster" puts together a well-rounded MMA game that Jędrzejczyk simply does not possess yet.
Many people believed Rose Namajunas' striking would lead her to victory over Esparza at the TUF finale, but the champ's grinding style wore "Thug" out before she was ultimately finished via rear-naked choke in the third.
Unless Joanna has a secret bag of tricks up her sleeve that will allow her to stuff Esparza's takedowns (hint: she doesn't) I do not see the Polish native taking home the belt this weekend.
1. Can Rafael Dos Anjos continue his unlikely ascent and pull off the monstrous upset?
Rafael Dos Anjos is 8-1 in his last nine UFC outings, including an impressive three-fight winning streak that has seen the Brazilian defeat former champ Benson Henderson and former No. 1 contender Nate Diaz in back-to-back fights.
"RDA" has been steamrolling through his competition, and the once feared jiu-jitsu black belt has become just as much a threat on the feet as he is on the mat. The Brazilian is the only man in MMA history to knock out Henderson, and is only the second man to ever finish the former champ at all (the other is UFC champ Anthony Pettis).
Sure, Dos Anjos has a tough hill to climb this weekend as Pettis seems almost indomitable at this point, but how can you count out someone who continues to put in workmanlike performances each and every time he steps into the Octagon?
The only time "RDA" has been handily defeated was thanks in part to the absolutely crippling wrestling and pressure of Khabib Nurmagomedov. Sure, the Russian deserves the UFC 185 main event title shot over Dos Anjos, but then again, it is not the Brazilian's fault "The Eagle" has been sidelined with an injury.
While I don't expect to see Dos Anjos win the belt this weekend, there is no way I will count him out altogether.
Enjoy the fights!
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