Two title fights were on the line Saturday night at UFC 185, along with bouts featuring former champions and many hoping to become titleholders in the near future.
Rafael dos Anjos took over the top spot in the UFC’s lightweight division, dominating Anthony Pettis like no one ever has in becoming the 155-pound champion. The Brazilian, the 11th from his country to secure UFC gold, earned a convincing decision.
Dos Anjos scored nine takedowns and was the more effective striker, putting pressure on “Showtime” from the start. He nearly finished it with a rear-naked choke in the final moments to put an incredible exclamation point on his performance.
In the co-main event, Joanna Jedrzejczyk did exactly what she said she would do, picking Carla Esparza apart on her feet and becoming the new UFC female strawweight champion. The former muay Thai legend, Jedrzejczyk had no trouble imposing her will on Esparza, who claimed the title after winning The Ultimate Fighter 20.
Jedrzejczyk remained unbeaten in her career, claiming the TKO victory at the 4:17 mark of round two. The loss was the first for Esparza since a 2011 split decision defeat to current World Series of Fighting champion Jessica Aguilar.
Johny Hendricks made sure to cement his future title shot in the welterweight division, controlling Matt Brown for three rounds. “Bigg Rigg” could have waited to rematch with Robbie Lawler, but instead, he opted to take on Brown. Hendricks is the likely opponent for Lawler-Rory MacDonald, who fight later this year.
Former Strikeforce champion Alistair Overeem and ex-U.S. Olympic gold medalist Henry Cejudo each picked up dominating decision wins on the opposite ends of the spectrum. Overeem downed Roy Nelson at heavyweight, using his striking to leave “Big Country” with a bruised body. Cejudo, meanwhile, controlled recent flyweight title contender Chris Cariaso for 15 minutes.
Ross Pearson, Elias Theodorou, Beneil Dariush and Jared Rosholt each earned finishes, with Pearson, Theodorou and Rosholt claiming TKOs and Dariush a submission. Pearson’s was of the highlight-reel variety, as he sent Sam Stout flying across the Octagon with a left hook.
The early prelims, which aired on UFC Fight Pass, all featured stoppage victories. Ryan Benoit knocked out Sergio Pettis in the second round after almost getting finished in the first, Joseph Duffy made his debut with the UFC by stopping Jake Lindsey in under two minutes and Germaine de Randamie topped Larissa Pacheco in the second.
Benoit’s win, though, was marred by his decision to kick Pettis in the behind after the referee had pulled him off. He apologized afterwards, saying he was caught up in the moment.
Dos Anjos, Jedrzejczyk, Ross Pearson and Beneil Dariush all earned “Performance of the Night” bonuses and an additional $50,000. The attendance was announced at 17,160 with a live gate of $2.155 million.
All seven prelim bouts were finishes, setting a strong tone for the night.
Complete results can be found below, along with full play-by-play on FightLine:
Rafael dos Anjos def. Anthony Pettis via unanimous decision (50-45, 50-45, 50-45) to become the new UFC lightweight champion
Joanna Jedrzejczyk def. Carla Esparza via TKO (strikes) at 4:17 of Round 2 to become the UFC female strawweight champion
Johny Hendricks def. Matt Brown via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
Alistair Overeem def. Roy Nelson via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
Henry Cejudo def. Chris Cariaso via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
Ross Pearson def. Sam Stout via KO (strikes) at 1:33 of Round 2
Elias Theodorou def. Roger Narvaez via TKO (strikes) at 4:07 of Round 2
Beneil Dariush def. Daron Cruickshank via submission (rear-naked choke) at 2:28 of Round 2
Jared Rosholt def. Josh Copeland via TKO (strikes) at 3:12 of Round 3
Ryan Benoit def. Sergio Pettis via TKO (strikes) at 1:34 of Round 2
Joseph Duffy def. Jake Lindsey via TKO (strikes) at 1:47 of Round 1
Germaine de Randamie def. Larissa Pacheco via TKO (strikes) at 2:02 of Round 2