Saturday night saw UFC 185 broadcast live on pay-per-view from the American Airlines Center in Dallas, Texas. Two titles changed hands, with Rafael dos Anjos taking the UFC Lightweight Championship from Anthony Pettis following 25 minutes of domination, and Joanna Jedrzejczyk demoralizing Carla Esparza for just shy of 10 minutes to win the UFC Women’s Strawweight Championship. The main card also saw decision wins for former UFC Welterweight Champion Johny Hendricks, former Strikeforce and DREAM Heavyweight Champion Alistair Overeem, and 2008 Olympic Gold Medalist Henry Cejudo. Below, LWOS books the fights for the UFC 185 main card winners and losers:
Rafael dos Anjos: After the fight on Saturday night, we learned that dos Anjos put on the performance of a lifetime with a torn MCL. That’s right: dos Anjos dominated Pettis for five straight rounds with a bum knee. Incredibly impressive. Dos Anjos will need some time to heal, and that’s perfectly fine. He should fight the winner of Donald Cerrone vs Khabib Nurmagomedov, who go head-to-head at UFC 187 in July. The timing should work out perfectly for dos Anjos to defend versus the winner. Nurmagomedov and dos Anjos have fought before, with the Russian winning a unanimous decision in April of 2014. Since then, Nurmagomedov hasn’t fought due to injury, and dos Anjos has gone 4-0, including winning the title. Cerrone has fought dos Anjos once before as well. They fought in August of 2013, with dos Anjos winning a unanimous decision. Since then, dos Anjos fought Nurmagomedov then won four straight, while Cerrone has gone an incredible 7-0 in that time span. Both Cerrone and Nurmagomedov would be intriguing rematches for dos Anjos.
Anthony Pettis: Pettis got blown out of the water Saturday night, and no one saw it coming. The best way to beat Pettis is to pressure him, and dos Anjos did exactly that to a ridiculously effective extent. Pettis obviously deserves a top 10 opponent when he returns, and that man should be Edson Barboza. Barboza will surely oblige Pettis in a stand-up fight, and a win for either gets them right back into title contention in the sport’s toughest division.
Joanna Jedrzejczyk: While dos Anjos’ performance was great, Jedrzejczyk was arguably the top star of the weekend. She stole the show at Thursday’s pre-fight press conference and Friday’s weigh-ins, and she turned in a flawless performance on Saturday. There’s no clear answer for who Jedrzejczyk who defend her title against first. Pending a few things, it should either be Paige VanZant or Joanne Calderwood. VanZant takes on Felice Herrig on April 18 at UFC on FOX in New Jersey. If VanZant wins that, it should be her. If she loses to Herrig though, I don’t think Herrig should be next up. So if VanZant loses, give it to Calderwood. She takes on Maryna Moroz a week before VanZant vs Herrig at UFC Fight Night in Krakow, Poland. If VanZant and Calderwood both lose, then Jedrzejczyk’s next foe is totally up for grabs.
Carla Esparza: Jedrzejczyk said all week that her takedown defense was too good for Esparza, and most pundits ignored it. She was right though, and Esparza was beat down for nearly two rounds before she was finally finished. Jedrzejczyk laid out the blue print on how to beat Esparza, and now it’s up to the rest of the division to execute it. Up next, Esparza should take on the loser of Claudia Gadelha vs Aisling Daly. They fight each other at UFC Fight Night April 11 in Poland. Esparza and Daly were teammates on TUF 20, while Esparza and Gadelha are heated rivals dating back to their time in Invicta FC. They’ve yet to fight, and it’s a fight the fans want to see.
Johny Hendricks: It wasn’t pretty, but Hendricks is back in the win column. His next step seems obvious: facing off with the winner of Robbie Lawler vs Rory MacDonald. Those two throw down in July at UFC 187 for Lawler’s UFC Welterweight Championship, the title he beat Hendricks for last December.
Matt Brown: After winning seven straight, Brown has now lost two in a row. It’s his first losing streak since 2010. He still remains one of the most exciting fighters in the division, and a win or two will get him right back on track. Last month, Brown was scheduled to main event UFC Fight Night 60 opposite Tarec Saffiedine before the former Strikeforce Welterweight Champion pulled out with a groin injury. That fight looks as good on paper now as it did then. Rebook it.
Alistair Overeem: Overeem fought smart Saturday night, and for the first time since his insane unbeaten streak from 2007-2012, Overeem is on a winning streak. His game plan was calculated, but Roy Nelson still touched up his chin a bit. For the rest of his career, fear of Overeem getting shut down with one punch from his opponent will remain. Overeem and Josh Barnett have 90 combined MMA fights. Both have fought in the UFC, Strikeforce, PRIDE and DREAM. Overeem has been a pro since 1999; Barnett since 1997. Somehow, their paths have never crossed. Now’s the time for them to do so.
Roy Nelson: Nelson is officially on hard times, as he has now dropped four of his last five outings. Another heavyweight on hard times is Antonio “Bigfoot” Silva. Bigfoot is 0-3 with 1 No Contest over his last four bouts. Both men are in desperate need of a victory, and both will come to throw hands. Make this fight happen, and a knockout finish is all but guaranteed.
Henry Cejudo: Cejudo looked better at bantamweight, and he admitted as much afterwards. If he can get the cut to flyweight down, he’s going to be a scary man in the division. His Olympic wrestling was on display again, including Chris Cariaso fearing the takedown, allowing Cejudo to win on the mat and on the feet. Up next, Cejudo should take on Brazilian jiu-jitsu ace Jussier Formiga. Formiga has won two straight, and the winner of a potential Cejudo vs Formiga bout could possibly be next to challenge Demetrious Johnson for his UFC Flyweight Championship.
Chris Cariaso: Cariaso’s roller coaster of wins an losses at flyweight continues. He’s now lost two straight, albeit to an up-and-coming stud in Cejudo and the champ Johnson. His next foe should be Tim Elliott, who finds himself in a similar position as Cariaso. Elliot is one of the top flyweights in the world, but he’s lost three straight, all to stellar competition in former title challengers Ali Bagautinov and Joseph Benavidez, and former Bellator champion Zach Makovsky. Match these two up and see who sticks around. Should be a fun scrap.