The main card of tonight’s UFC 185 is stacked from top to bottom with the return of a former champion and two title fights to round out the event. While the first strawweight title defense in UFC history could be interesting, it is the lightweight title bout that has everyone talking.
This is an interesting fight with a lot of different variables involved. Anthony Pettis has gone from being a fighter with unjustified hype to someone who is at the blastoff point of being a legitimate tour de’ force. A win here will amplify his momentum and keep him firmly in the pound-for-pound discussion.
There have been many fighters over the years who have flown under the radar to earn a title shot. Rafael Dos Anjos is known as a good fighter, but he may actually be a great fighter. Dos Anjos has played the role of spoiler on several occasions by beating fighters who were supposed to use him to pad their resume.
Whoever controls the tempo of the bout should have the highest degree of success. Pettis is an elite striker and mixes up his attacks with an uncanny accuracy. The champion, however, often gets off to a slow start, looking uncomfortable in the opening moments. So far, though, it’s been too short of a window for any challenger to completely exploit.
Dos Anjos is a good striker in his own right and will trade and take more shots in the pocket than most would with Pettis. On paper, he has the advantage on the ground even thought his opponent on Saturday has submitted those who were considered superior grapplers. The takedown game will be best played against the fence as Pettis has shown extreme difficulty working off of his back when having little space to operate.
A victory from the tough-as-nails Dos Anjos wouldn’t be surprising as he is very apt to catch Pettis in a firefight and finish him with strikes on the ground. I think Pettis applies his skills in the cage better than most and will be able to nullify much of the Brazilian’s arsenal of leg kicks and takedown attempts thus earning the knockout blow in the championship rounds.
The Pick: Anthony Pettis via knockout in the 4th Round.