Rafael dos Anjos beat Anthony Pettis down for 25 minutes. | Photo: Josh Hedges/UFC/Zuffa/Getty
Rafael dos Anjos had an answer for everything Anthony Pettis threw his way.
Dos Anjos became the seventh lightweight titleholder in Ultimate Fighting Championship history, as he earned a surprisingly one-sided unanimous decision over Pettis in the UFC 185 headliner on Saturday at the American Airlines Center in Dallas. All three judges scored it the same: 50-45 for dos Anjos (24-7, 13-5 UFC).
Pettis (18-3, 5-2 UFC) was on his heels from the start. Dos Anjos bottled up the Roufusport star with merciless forward pressure on the feet and a continuous stream of takedowns across 25 minutes. The Brazilian made few mistakes in what can only be described as a career-defining performance. Dos Anjos bashed “Showtime” with left hands throughout the five-round fight, leaving him with serious damage to his right eye. He was the superior fighter in all phases: According to preliminary FightMetric figures, dos Anjos connected on 144 strikes, 90 of them significant, and was successful on nine of his 10 takedown attempts. He passed the Pettis guard five times, moving to the Milwaukee native’s back in the third, fourth and fifth rounds.
The loss halted Pettis’ run of five straight victories and left a new man in charge of the lightweight division.
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Jedrzejczyk Destroys Esparza, Claims Strawweight Crown
In the co-main event, Joanna Jedrzejczyk took out Carla Esparza with second-round punches to claim the UFC women’s strawweight championship. Esparza (10-3, 1-1 UFC) succumbed to an accumulation of blows 4:17 into round two, her five-fight winning streak snapped in decisive fashion.
Jedrzejczyk (9-0, 3-0 UFC) denied all but one of the Team Oyama’s takedown attempts, trapping her on the feet. Esparza grew increasingly desperate, as hopelessness and fatigue set in. By the time the second round arrived, she was little more than a sitting duck. Jedrzejczyk fired away with grisly right hands and stinging jabs, slowly wearing down the Californian. With less than a minute remaining in the frame, she backed up Esparza with a right hand and swarmed with a brutal volley for the finish.
The 27-year-old Jedrzejczyk becomes the first Polish fighter to win a UFC title and just the third European to do so, joining Bas Rutten and Andrei Arlovski.
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‘Bigg Rigg’ Hendricks Stifles Brown
Team Takedown’s Johny Hendricks utilized repeated takedowns and an oppressive top game in capturing a unanimous verdict against Matt Brown in a featured welterweight clash. All three judges struck the same ruling, scoring it 30-27 for Hendricks (17-3, 12-3 UFC).
Brown (19-13, 12-7 UFC) fought well in spurts -- he landed some of his patented standing elbows in the first round -- but could not stay upright, despite grabbing the fence while being taken down on more than one occasion. A four-time NCAA All-American wrestler and two-time national champion at Oklahoma State University, Hendricks executed multiple takedowns in all three rounds, applied his ground-and-pound and effectively neutralized the notoriously aggressive Ohio native. Brown, who sustained small cuts near both eyes, did what he could from bottom position but had no real answer for what the former welterweight champion brought to the table.
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Overeem Abuses Nelson, Takes Decision
A steady diet of kicks and knees to the body carried former Dream and Strikeforce champion Alistair Overeem to a unanimous decision over Roy Nelson in a three-round heavyweight showcase. Overeem (39-14, 4-3 UFC) swept the scorecards with matching 30-27 marks.
Nelson (20-11, 7-7 UFC) hunted for a home for his trademark right hand but found little success. Overeem zeroed in on his torso with a relentless barrage of knees and kicks, one of which left a bruise that stretched from the Las Vegas native’s nipple to his back. Nelson wobbled the Dutchman with a right hand in the second round and floored him with a left hook in the third, but he was clearly compromised by the punishment he had absorbed and seemed incapable of finishing what he started whenever an opportunity presented itself.
Overeem, 34, has posted back-to-back wins for the first time since he arrived in the UFC in 2011.
Undefeated Cejudo Dominates Cariaso
Onetime Olympic gold medalist Henry Cejudo announced his presence at 125 pounds with a one-sided unanimous decision over Chris Cariaso in a featured flyweight battle. All three cageside judges scored it the same: 30-27 for the undefeated Cejudo (8-0, 2-0 UFC).
Cariaso (17-7, 6-5 UFC) was game but outmatched. Cejudo utilized all of his tools across 15 minutes, from expected takedowns, ground-and-pound and guard passes to punching combinations, standing elbows, kicks and clinch knees. The 28-year-old rising contender executed multiple takedowns in all three rounds, frustrating Cariaso and keeping the action where he wanted it.