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UFC 185 Aftermath/Results: The King is Dead, Long Live the King

(Photo via Getty)

It seems that more often than not these days, the UFC likes to sell us on the invincibility of its champions. “Anderson Silva is the G.O.A.T.” “Renan Barao is one of the greatest pound-for-pound fighters in the UFC right now, if not the greatest.” “Jose Aldo had sex with my blind wife last night and now she can see!” I’m paraphrasing here, but you get the point.

That’s not meant as a knock on the promotion, mind you. I mean, you tell me how else you’re going to market a humble, softly-spoken foreigner who knows maybe a dozen words in English, if not based on his skills in the cage? This is the fight game after all, and Conor McGregor would still be collecting welfare checks if he didn’t possess the actual skill to back up his mouth. Yet time and time again, it seems that the UFC’s go-to strategy for hyping a fighter becomes akin to placing a hex on them. And when/if the champion in question does lose, it isn’t long before the conversation shifts to “Anderson Silva is a roidhead.” “Renan Barao is going to get smoked in the rematch.” “Jose Aldo is only keeping Conor McGregor’s seat warm.”

To be perfectly clear, this isn’t how I feel the UFC was marketing Anthony Pettis heading into his UFC 185 title fight with Rafael Dos Anjos. The promotion was marketing him on his skillset, sure, which again — how could you not when his highlight reel includes a flying off-the-cage ninja kick? I’m saying that this is how the MMA media seemed to be billing Pettis in the weeks leading up to last Saturday. Blame it on the stupidity and/or rampant fanboyism that affects even the unbiased (and more importantly, credentialed) members, blame it on whatever you want, but there was an air of invincibility surrounding Pettis. We were like a deer caught in the headlights of “Showtime’s” greatness, so much so that we barely even took the time to notice that Dos Anjos was there.

Again, this is not a dig, but rather an observation. I sure as hell didn’t give Dos Anjos much of a chance despite his insanely impressive credentials in recent years, and was already salivating at the idea of watching Pettis face his first true test as champion in Khabib Nurmagomedov, once the latter beat Donald Cerrone (which now that I think about it, likely just condemned Nurmy to a loss).

The point is, us MMA fans — from the most casual observers right up to the credentialed media members — like to get a few steps ahead of ourselves when it comes to the cream of the crop. We see a couple flashy finishes over legitimate competition and we suddenly start hyping up “superfights” and dream/freak show matches that are light years away from materializing, then devoting countless articles to them as if they’ve been already booked. Do you guys realize that “we’ve” spent the past two weeks talking about the prospect of Ronda Rousey vs. a man and/or Laila Al? (*shudders*)

And the MMA Gods, well, they find our hubris disconcerting. Disturbing even. Which is why every now and again, they throw a Dos Anjos into the gears. “This is what you get,” they bellow from on high, “This is what you get for trying to book Pettis vs. Aldo.”

And that’s exactly what happened last weekend. For five unbelievable, grueling rounds, the guy best known for being on the wrong end of a Jeremy Stephens uppercut in his UFC debut handed a dynamic, unstoppable champion the ass-whooping of a lifetime. To call it shocking would be a woeful undersell. Rafael Dos Anjos torched Anthony Pettis. We were ready to believe that the guy who got wrestlefucked by Clay Guida in 2011 had developed +1000 takedown defense mana in the years since, and oh how we were wrong. Even more bewildering than Dos Anjos’ complete domination in the grappling department was his dismantling of Pettis, a taekwondo master with the dexterity of a Cirque Du Soleil performer, in the striking department, which saw the then-champion’s eye swollen shut by the start of the championship rounds.

Pettis fought his heart out on Saturday, but he still came up short against a guy who started off his UFC career two in the hole. And with his loss, we are once again reminded that no one in the UFC is unbeatable (except for Jon Jones) (and Ronda Rousey). The king is dead, long live the king.

Speaking of unbeatable, time will only tell how long it takes for us to bestow that status on Joanna Jedrzejczyk, who came out like a woman possessed against Carla Esparza. Anyone who had seen the Embedded series knew that the Polish muay-Thai champion had managed to get inside her cookie-loving opponent’s head, but the extent to which she had wasn’t made obvious until Esparza entered the arena. Despite having Metallica’s “Harvester of Sorrow” blaring in the background, Esparza looked like anything but a woman ready for a fight. She looked extremely nervous. Checked out. Dare I say it, scared.

Her nervousness was apparent in every second she was in the fight. Esparza’s “underrated” striking — as it was being billed — was non-existent. Overwhelmed from the get-go by Jedrzejczyk’s prowess on the feet, the TUF 20 winner repeatedly dove in on sloppy and telegraphed single leg attempts with zero setup whatsoever. She was a sitting duck, and Jedrzejczyk wasted no time taking advantage of it. The second round TKO win for Jedrzejczyk capped off a flawless performance, and a credit is also due to referee Don Turnage for the most merciful title fight stoppage since Silva vs. Franklin.

What else did we learn at UFC 185? Well, that Johny Hendricks sure can wrassle, which was already a bit of a given. Struggling to deal with the constant forward attack of Matt Brown early, Hendricks slowed things down with his repeated takedowns and G-n-P, then busted up a tiring Brown on the feet in the latter rounds for good measure. It wasn’t the most exciting performance (and one that Hendricks was highly critical of himself), but the former champ looked well on his way to a trilogy fight with Robbie Lawler.

What else, what else? Oh, Alistair Overeem loves flying knees, and Roy Nelson likes eating flying knees just as much. That Nelson was able to withstand such an onslaught from the K1 champion and keep ticking really tells you something about the power Mark Hunt packs in his hands. With the win, it seems we might just finally get to see Overeem vs. Dos Santos transpire in the near future. Here’s hoping.

And finally, I’d like to pour one out for poor, poor Chris Cariaso. The guy is about as forgettable as they come in terms of both personality and skillset, and has absolutely been mauled in his past two fights. No wonder he was hoping Henry Cejudo missed weight.

Full results for UFC 185 are below.

Rafael dos Anjos def. Anthony Pettis by unanimous decision
Joanna Jedrzejczyk def. Carla Esparza by TKO, round 2
Johny Hendricks def. Matt Brown by unanimous decision
Alistair Overeem def. Roy Nelson by unanimous decision
Henry Cejudo def. Chris Cariaso by unanimous decision

Ross Pearson def. Sam Stout by KO, round 2
Elias Theodorou def. Roger Narvaez by TKO, round 2
Beneil Dariush def. Daron Cruickshank by submission, round 2
Jared Rosholt def. Josh Copeland by TKO, round 3
Ryan Benoit def. Sergio Pettis by TKO, round 2
Joseph Duffy def. Jake Lindsey by TKO, round 1
Germaine de Randamie def. Larissa Pacheco by TKO, round 2

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