Everything you need to know about this weekend's big fight between Anthony Pettis and Rafael dos Anjos at UFC 185.

By Jeff Wagenheim
March 13, 2015

Everything you need to know about this weekend's big fight.


You’re going to have speak up when you utter the words “mixed martial” in reference to Anthony Pettis, because one look at him performing and the only sound that booms in your head is “artist.”

His lethal grace is a beauty to behold, unless it’s getting a hold of you. There are athletes in the sport who are more vicious, more technically unassailable, more imposing. Of course, Pettis exhibits all of those qualitiestake your eyes off that truth at your own perilbut what sets the UFC lightweight champion apart is what sets apart those who take leaps forward. And then, improbably and innovatively, spring back.

You remember the “Showtime Kick,” don’t you?

It happened over four years ago, back when fighters at lighter weights mostly competed not for the UFC but for the WEC. It was that organization’s final hurrah, a bout for the 155-pound title between Pettis and Benson Henderson. It was a fight to the finish. Through nearly 24 minutes, the night was anyone’s to own. Then “Showtime” earned his nickname, leaping toward the fence, springing off with his right foot, and using that same foot to launch a head kick that felled Henderson and knocked the MMA world for a loop.

Every day since, Pettis has lived in the shadow of that moment’s spectacle. It was his greatest hit. That’s not to say he churns it out at every performance, like “Jumpin’ Jack Flash.” It just set the standard for what it means to be Anthony Pettis. What does it say for your brilliance when you spring off a cage wall? It says there is no ceiling.

When Pettis (18-2) steps in the octagon on Saturday night at the American Airlines Center in Dallas for the main event of UFC 185 (PPV, 10 p.m. ET), he will be defending his belt for the second time. The 28-year-old has finished his last four opponents, three in the first round. Along with being No. 1 in the SI.com lightweight rankings, he stands seventh in our pound-for-pound tally.

His challenger will be Rafael dos Anjos, a sturdy Brazilian who’s nowhere near as flashy as the champ (who is?) but solid in all phases. He’s just two years older than Pettis but has a veteran pedigree, with 17 UFC bouts under his belt. Dos Anjos (23-7) has won nine of his last 10, and his last two performances have been virtuosic: a first-round KO of Benson Henderson and a three-round mauling of Nate Diaz. He is No. 3 in SI.com’s 155-pound rankings.

In addition to the 10 p.m. ET pay-per-view telecast of the five-fight main card, four prelims will be shown on FX (not the usual Fox Sports 1), starting at 8 p.m., and the event’s first three bouts will be available on the UFC Fight Pass online service at 6:30. The main card also will be screened by Fathom Events at movie theaters nationwide.


This title challenge belonged to another man. Even Rafael dos Anjos would acknowledge that. The only loss among his last 10 bouts came against Khabib Nurmagomedov, and it was not close. The Russian is injured, though, so Dos Anjos got the call.

This second-fiddle designation does not diminish his dangerousness. Ask former champ Henderson, who made halfway through the first round before being snuffed out. Diaz was overmatched as well. Dos Anjos has earned his way. 

Last Five Fights

12/6/14 Gilbert Melendez W Sub 2
8/31/13 Benson Henderson W Sub 1
1/26/13 Donald Cerrone W TKO 1
2/26/12 Joe Lauzon W KO 1
10/8/11 Jeremy Stephens W SD 3

Dos Anjos
12/13/14 Nate Diaz W UD
3/8/23/14 Benson Henderson W KO 1
6/7/14 Jason High W TKO 2
4/19/14 Khabib Nurmagomedov L UD 3
8/28/13 Donald Cerrone W UD 3

Tale of the Tape

Dos Anjos

Jan. 27, 1987

BIRTH DATE Oct. 26, 1984

Milwaukee, Wis.


Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Milwaukee, Wis.


Rio de Janeiro, Brazil













* Official weights announced at the weigh-in (Friday, 5 p.m. ET)

Other Numbers to Count On

15: Number of finishes (seven KO’s, eight submissions) among Anthony Pettis’s 18 career victories.

38: Percentage of success on takedown attempts by Rafael dos Anjos, according to FightMetric stats. Anthony Pettis is at 76%.

2: Number of title fights at UFC 185. The co-main event will be Carla Esparza’s first defense of the new strawweight title, against Joanna Jedrzejczyk.

Greatest Hits

Top five KO’s by UFC 185 main card fighters:


Pettis is a lot to handle, but Dos Anjos has handled a lot. Regardless of where this fight takes place, he will not be in over his head. He’s well-rounded, and can threaten both as a striker and a grappler.

If his prefight talk is to be believed, Dos Anjos will willingly engage with Pettis in whatever fight unfolds. That is a brave stance. We’ll find out on Saturday night whether it’s a fool’s errand.

The Odds

Pettis is the betting favorite, with a money line ranging from -420 (bet $420 to win 100) to -470 (bet $470 to win $100) at various sportsbooks. The line on Dos Anjos ranges from +300 (bet $100 to win $300) to +389 (bet $100 to win $389).


Dos Anjos has weapons, but can they be effective against a champion with all of the ammunition? Pettis by KO.

Fighting Words

“We haven’t had a lot of guys who’ve wanted to stand with Anthony except for really Donald Cerrone. Anthony caught Joe Lauzon early, but [mainly] Donald … and that’s what we’re going to see, somebody who will stand with Anthony Pettis, and that’s my favorite fight. Because that’s where you really see Anthony Pettis showcase his skills. So if Rafael stands with him, we’re going to have a barnburner of a fight, and Anthony’s going to come out on top.”
-- Duke Roufus, Pettis’s coach and mentor, speaking on the MMAfighting.com show The MA Hour

“Yeah, the way that I feel is that ‘a matter of time,’ you know? The belt has a date to be mine. It will be Saturday, and I’m just thinking that way. I just did everything perfect; all my hard work was done. Now it’s in God’s hands. I did my part, and Saturday night he’s going to do his part.”
-- Rafael dos Anjos, speaking to MMAjunkie.com

The Rest of the Card

Carla Esparza vs. Joanna Jedrzejcyk, strawweight championship; Johny Hendricks vs. Matt Brown, welterweight; Roy Nelson vs. Alistair Overeem, heavyweight; Chris Cariaso vs. Henry Cejudo, flyweight.

Preliminary card (8 p.m. ET, FX): Ross Pearson vs. Sam Stout, lightweight; Elias Theodorou vs. Roger Narvaez, middleweight; Daron Cruickshank vs. Beneil Dariush, lightweight; Jared Rosholt vs. Josh Copeland, heavyweight.

Online prelims (6:30 p.m., UFC Fight Pass): Sergio Pettis vs. Ryan Benoit, flyweight; Jake Lindsey vs. Joseph Duffy, lightweight; Larissa Pacheco vs. Germaine de Randamie, women’s bantamweight.

Programming Notes

Mike Goldberg will handle blow-by-blow and Joe Rogan analysis for the main-card telecast on pay-per-view as well as prelims on FX and the UFC Fight Pass. An hour-long postfight show begins at 1:30 a.m. ET on Fox Sports 1.

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