By Lance LeVan
UFC 185 will once again be held at the American Airlines Center in Dallas on Saturday, March 14. Surprisingly, it looks like the main card for this event is going to have some excellent fights on it. The four main fights are top-name fighters, with some champions and former champions facing each other. Don’t be surprised to see “Fight of the Night” or “Submission of the Night” from one of the these fights.
(C) Anthony “Showtime” Pettis (18-2-0) vs. (No. 1) Rafael dos Anjos (23-7-0)
This is going to be a five-round lightweight (155 pounds) title fight. This is a match-up a lot of people have been waiting to see. This is the way it is supposed to be, with the champion taking on the No. 1 contender.
Pettis is a 3rd-degree black belt in Tae Kwon Do, a yellow rope in Capoeira and a brown belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Dos Anjos is well-versed in Muay Thai and is a black belt in BJJ. Even though both of these fighters are highly trained in fighting on the ground, don’t expect this fight to spend much time there. These warriors enjoy standing and trading punches. They are both very fast and very explosive. If it does go to the ground, look for an instant scramble for them to get back to their feet. I would actually love to see this fight go the entire five rounds, but it could be over at any given moment. A well-timed punch or a submission opportunity could end someone’s night quickly.
Pettis looked a little rusty in his first title defense against Gilbert Melendez recently. However, I do not think that will be the case in this fight. Look for Pettis to be at the top of his game. Dos Anjos has won eight of his last nine bouts. He has beaten three of the top five fighters in his division. I have watched both fighters in their previous fights and I think this is going to be a very close bout. I would be very surprised if this one doesn’t win “Fight of the Night” honors. However, I think Pettis is going to be too much for dos Anjos to handle. I think Pettis is trying to stay on top for as long as possible and he is going to be firing on all cylinders. I am not saying that dos Anjos isn’t the No. 1 contender, because he definitely IS. But Pettis is on a mission to remain the champ. My prediction: Pettis wins via TKO in the fifth round.
(C) Carla “Cookie Monster” Esparza (11-2-0) vs. (No. 1) Joanna Jedrzejczyk (8-0-0)
This is a five-round women’s strawweight (115 pounds) title fight. I don’t know about other MMA fans, but I have been waiting to see this fight. Esparza is the UFC’s first strawweight champion. This will be her first title defense. She is a very accomplished wrestler and a purple belt in BJJ under Rener Gracie. Jedrzejczyk is a Muay Thai fighter from Poland. She is a six-time world champion and a four-time European champion in Muay Thai. Looking at the stats, it appears that Esparza is more of a finisher than Jedrzejczyk. She has finished more than 60 percent of her fights, whereas Joanna has only finished less than 40 percent of her fights.
Esparza is not the kind of fighter who wants to leave the decision to the judges. She would prefer to submit or KO her opponent. I think you will see her attacking and on the offensive all night. I think that Jedrzejczyk will be an excellent test for the new champ, Esparza, but I don’t think she will be able to handle Esparza’s aggressive nature and her ground game. My prediction: Esparza wins by submission in the third round.
(No. 1) Johny “Bigg Rigg” Hendricks (16-3-0) vs. (No. 5) Matt “The Immortal” Brown (21-12-0)
This is a three-round welterweight (170 pounds) fight that should be fast-paced and action-packed. Hendricks is the former welterweight champion and is world-renowned for his KO power. He usually has excellent takedowns and takedown defense. Brown is a brown belt in BJJ, a boxer, and also has training in Japanese Jiu Jitsu.
This is another fight that I do not believe will go to the ground very often. Both of these guys believe in their stand-up games and like to strike. Both fighters have more than 50 percent KO/TKOs. I think if it does go to the ground, Brown has a substantial advantage in the submission game. Hendricks is a scrambler and it will be difficult to keep him pinned down for very long. Whatever Brown tries to attempt in the way of submissions will have to be fast and precise. If Hendricks lands one of his notorious straight lefts, the night will be over quickly.
I have to go with the experience in this bout. I know this is Hendricks in his hometown, but I think that Brown’s experience and his ground game will give him that much needed edge. He will be looking to take Johny down and stay away from the devastating punching power. My prediction: Brown wins via submission in the third round.
Disagree with me about the UFC 185 matches? Let me know via Twitter @BlitzWeekly and we’ll see who has better picks the night of the fights.