UFC 185: What to Watch For
In three days, the American Airlines Center in Dallas, Texas will host UFC 185. There will be plenty to watch for, including two title defenses, undefeated records on the line, and of course, the journey to victory. With 12 fights on deck, of which two are women’s competition, let’s take a look at what to look out for.
Larissa Pacecho (10-1) vs. Germaine de Randamie (4-3)
UFC 185 will open up with the ladies in the bantamweight division, when 10-1 Pacecho looks to rebound from a disappointing debut loss against #15 ranked Randamie. The 20 year-old Pacecho came into the UFC with a flawless 10-0 record, finishing all of her opponents (six submissions, four knockouts). Pacecho would lose by submission in the first round to Jessica Andrade back in UFC Fight Night 51. Randamie fell to 1-1 in the UFC when she lost via strikes to Amanda Nunes in UFC Fright Night for the Troops 3 back in November 2013. The long layoff may play a disadvantage to Randamie as she is the underdog in this fight according to the betting odds. With the ladies’ bantamweight division still developing, a win from either could put them in the top 15, if not higher (for Randamie’s case).
Roger Narvaez (7-1) vs. Elias Theodorou (10-0)
Narvaez came into the UFC with an unbeaten 6-0 record only to have it taken away by Patrick Cummins at UFC Fight Night 42, where he would lose via TKO strikes in the second round. Narvaez would bounce back, earning a hard earned split decision victory over Luke Barnatt at UFC Fight Night 57. Narvaez looks to build momentum and a key victory on his resume when he fights the undefeated TUF Nations winner, Elias Theodorou. Theodorou has great endurance which has helped him on his 10-0 start (2-0 in the UFC), and he will look to wear down Narvaez and notch his third straight victory, making a push for a top 15 ranked opponent if he can pass Narvaez. Theodorou is a decent favorite in this fight according to the odds.
Joseph Duffy (12-1) vs. Jake Lindsey (9-2)
CWFC veteran “Irish Joe ” Duffy makes his lightweight debut against Jake Lindsey. These two fighters are taking different directions in their careers right now. Lindsey came into the UFC 9-0, only to lose back-to-back via TKO and submission, respectively. Duffy on the other hand, has won his last two fights, amassing a 12-1 record, with eight submission victories. What is more impressive is who is on his victory list: Norman Parke and Conor McGregor, submitting both fighters in the first round. With McGregor’s rise to stardom in the UFC, Duffy could claim he is one of McGregor’s two defeats, but Duffy needs to focus on winning his debut fight for the UFC against a desperate fighter in Lindsey, who could possibly see his way out of a job in the UFC if he drops a third consecutive fight. Duffy is a significantly heavy favorite in the odds at -550 in this fight (for you non betters, this means you need to drop $550 in order to win $100).
Jared Rosholt vs. Josh Copeland
The heavyweight division makes its appearance when Rosholt and Copeland both look to jump back into their way of winning after having their winning streaks come to an end. Rosholt was riding a seven-fight winning streak, including a 2-0 start in his UFC career until he ran into Alexey Oleinik’s fists at UFC Fight Night 57. Josh Copeland was another (of the many) undefeated fighters to come to the UFC and have his unbeaten record taken away when Ruslam Magomedov took the decision win on the same card. Both men are heavy hitters with good grappling, Rosholt with the edge in the grappling department and may utilize that asset to control Copeland in this fight.
Henry Cejudo (7-0) vs. Chris Cariaso (17-6)
This flyweight fight has alot to look forward to, and potentially the development of the division’s most dominant fighter in Cejudo. Cejudo is still transitioning into a complete mixed martial arts fighter. He is a well decorated wrestler with solid boxing skills, making him that much dangerous. Cariaso will not be a pushover, however. Cariaso was on a three fight winning streak which earned him a title shot against Demetrious Johnson, and there is a reason why he is ranked 10 in the flyweight division. This is your classic “striker vs. grappler” fight, as Cariaso is a decorated muay thai fighter and golden gloves champion. Cejudo will face his biggest test of his career, and if he prevails, look for his name on the UFC top 15 flyweights, and a step closer to a title shot. Cejudo is this card’s highest favorite at -600.
Sergio Pettis (12-1) vs. Ryan Benoit (7-3)
Another highly anticipated fight in the flyweight division. Sergio, the younger brother of lightweight champion Anthony Pettis, has strung back-to-back wins and is now 3-1 in the UFC, and like Cejudo, is looking to continue his winning ways into earning a top 15 ranking. Ryan Benoit is returning from a long lay off, being inactive for 16 months, when he lost in his UFC debut to Josh Sampo. Benoit is a heavy underdog in this fight, and will have to overcome Pettis’ striking and find a way to defeat “Showtime’s” little brother. Pettis and Cejudo could become the next big names in the flyweight divisions with wins on this fight card (and potential opponents who might cross paths).
Daron Cruickshank (16-5) vs. Beneil Dariush (9-1)
Both of these lightweights are a win or two away from cracking the lightweight rankings. Cruickshank is a Division III wrestler with good striking, he will want to control the fight by winning scoring the take downs and controling the ground game. Dariush is a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu black belt and very dangerous on the ground, having won five of his nine wins by submission. This will be a very close and competitive fight, as both fighters have the power in their hands to stun their opponent with a TKO, and can control the fight when it hits the canvas.
Sam Stout (20-10-1) vs. Ross Pearson (16-8)
This fight in the welterweight division could potentially be a candidate for “Performance of the Night” between two strikers who will not hesitate to get into a three round stand up war. Stout has been in and out of the UFC many times over his career. This will be his 19th fight in the UFC and he has a 9-9 record in the organization. The great thing about “Hands of Stone” is that he like to trade in the stand up department and will not back down. Pearson is a dangerous striker as well and he does not back down. Both fighters have been in a roller coaster of wins and losses, every fight is critical in this sport, this one will be that much more important for both men in order to stay relevant in the UFC (and hopefully not cut from the roster). Look for fireworks in this match up.
Alistair Overeem (38-14) vs. Roy Nelson (20-10)
Two big men, with bombs for hands, and a combined 27 years of fighting, all meshed into this blockbuster fight. Both men are in the top 10 heavyweight ranks, with Roy “Big Country” Nelson at number eight, and “The Demolition Man” Overeem at nine. These two heavy hitters have a combined 29 TKO / KO victories between their 38 wins, a knockout performance of the night is not far fetched. Overeem had an impressive KO victory over Stefan Struve back in December, while Nelson lost his third of his last four fights to Mark Hunt back in September. Nelson is 38 years old, and with his recent slump, another loss may indicate the heavy slugger’s end is near. This fight might not make it past the first round.
Johny Hendricks vs. Matt Brown
Former welterweight champion and number one contender Johny Hendricks will have to wait in line for his rematch, as second ranked Rory MacDonald will get a firsts crack at newly crowned welterweight king Robbie Lawler. Hendricks (16-3) is a phenomenal wrestler with heavy punches, he has never been stopped in a fight either. Matt Brown will have to use his aggressive striking to hold back Hendricks’ take downs. Brown (19-12) is currently the fifth ranked welterweight, who had his seven-fight win streak snapped by Lawler back in July. Many fans have grown fond of Brown’s aggressive style, and the same fans have criticized Hendricks over his recent lackluster performances since winning the title. The winner of this fight could be knocking on the door of a title shot.
Carla Esparza (10-2) vs. Joanna Jerdzejczyk (8-0)
The women’s straw weight title goes on the line with Esparza defending against number one contender Jerdzeczyk. Esparaza will need to be careful of Jerdzejczyk’s striking, and look to take the fight to the ground and win it from there. Esparza won the inaugural title against Rose Namajunas at The Ultimate Fighter 20 finale. Jerdzeczyk will look to keep her unbeaten streak while dethroning Esparza, but that might be a tough feat if this fight hits the ground.
Anthony Pettis (18-2) vs. Rafael Dos Anjos (23-7)
Anthony Pettis is arguably one of the most entertaining fighters in the business, and with the nickname “Showtime” really, you can’t argue that. Pettis not only wins, he is beating top level fighters, and finishing them. Dos Anjos has been punishing opponents as well with his well rounded game, only losing once in the last three years when he dropped a decision to Khabib Nurmagomedov. In order for Dos Anjos to win the lightweight belt off of Pettis, he will need to overcome Showtime’s flashy striking and take him down, from there he needs to control the ground and pound and try to soften up the champ (much easier said than done). Pettis is a heavy favorite at -450 while Dos Anjos is a heavy underdog at +325. If Pettis takes out Dos Anjos, the only real threat left in the division is Khabib Nurmagomedov, who might get his chance at Pettis if he defeats Donald Cerrone.