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The Downes Side: UFC 185 Predictions

UFC / WEC veteran Dan Downes talks strategy and predictions for UFC 185: Pettis vs. Dos Anjos, taking place Saturday, March 14...

That’s right boys and girls, it’s time for another Lone Star edition of the Downes Side! The eyes of the ranger may be upon you, but the watchful eye of the Nostradamus of MMA sees all. Ok, it might not see all, but at least enough to be respectable.

They may not see all, but the fans inside the American Airlines Center will see one hell of a show. Live from Dallas, Texas, the Ultimate Fighting Championship brings you UFC 185. In the main event of the evening, lightweight champion Anthony “Showtime” Pettis defends his belt against Rafael dos Anjos. In the co-main event, Carla Esparza defends her women’s strawweight title against Joanna Jedrzejczyk. Don’t worry about looking behind you, it’s fight time!

The main card opens in the flyweight division with Chris Cariaso and Henry Cejudo. A technical striker who knows how to string combos together, Cariaso looks to maintain his standing as one of the elite 125-pound fighters after his second-round loss to champ Demetrious Johnson. An Olympic gold medal winning wrestler, many think Cejudo could be the next flyweight champion.

Anyone remember the comic strip Cathy? You know, likable main character who just couldn’t figure out that whole “diet” thing? Well, that’s Cejudo. You want him to be a thing because he has so much potential, but he can’t make weight. Those troubles may prevent him from competing for the title, but it won’t hurt him here. Cariaso has fluid striking, but he lacks the ability to change the course of a fight. Cejudo has wrestling, power and speed. He takes this by first round TKO.

We jump up to the big boys for a heavyweight tilt between Roy Nelson and Alistair Overeem. If we had to analyze the economy of “Big Country,” the GDP has taken a significant hit as of late. 1-3 in his last four fights, he could really use a win here. Things have been similarly up and down in the place we call “The Reem.” After losing three of his last four, he bounced back with a first-round TKO over Stefan Struve in December.

Anyone remember the comic strip Cathy? Well, the heavyweight division is the exact opposite; it’s unpredictable. Will Roy Nelson’s right hand penetrate Overeem’s questionable chin? Can Overeem’s dominant clinch game wear out our favorite portly powerhouse? Normally I’d give the edge to someone with Overeem’s offensive output, but not in this case. Overeem has the better all-around striking game, but he doesn’t maintain distance well. He’ll wander into a right hand, and that will be the end. Nelson by second-round TKO.

We transition to welterweight for Johny Hendricks and Matt Brown. Hendricks makes his return to the Octagon for the first time since losing the title to Robbie Lawler. One of the best wrestlers in the division, he’s a southpaw striker that commands respect with his left hand. More violent than a Tarantino film, Matt Brown returns to competition after dropping a decision to Robbie Lawler last July.

This fight will be determined by pacing. Hendricks is one of the best 170-pound fighters in the world, but he’s been guilty of taking rounds off. If he lets Brown dictate the exchanges, it could be a long night for “Bigg Rigg.” Bearing that in mind, Hendricks may just be better suited for three-round fights. His left cross will keep Brown in check and his strong grappling base will prevent Brown from connecting with his knees and elbows. Hendricks proves he’s the best active welterweight in the world (he beat Lawler the last time out in my opinion) and takes the unanimous decision.
This brings us to the women’s strawweight division and the co-main event. Carla Esparza defends her title for the first time since beating Rose Namajunas. A strong wrestler, the “Cookie Monster” blends her strikes and takedowns well to keep opponents off-balance. Undefeated with a 2-0 record in the UFC, Joanna Jedrzejczyk looks to make Esparza’s first title defense an unsuccessful one. A kickboxer by trade, her strikes are about as hard as her name is to pronounce.

Jedrzejczyk’s takedown defense thus far has looked pretty solid. Having said that, she’s never faced anyone with Esparza’s pedigree. In the striker vs. grappler matchup, the grappler doesn’t always win, but Jedrzejczyk doesn’t have the tools to win this fight. Her aggressiveness is normally a strong suit, but it will allow Esparza to initiate the clinch. From there, I don’t like Jedrzejczyk’s chances in fighting the takedown. C is for Carla, and that’s good enough for me. Esparza by decision.

Time for the main event! As electrifying in the cage as yours truly is behind the keyboard, Anthony Pettis defends his lightweight championship for the second time. His last time out, he finished Gilbert Melendez with a second-round guillotine. The little Brazilian engine that could, Rafael dos Anjos has wins over Nate Diaz, Benson Henderson, Donald Cerrone and Jason High.

We all know that Anthony Pettis is a dynamic striker. What people fail to realize, though, is that he’s dangerous everywhere else. Look at the Melendez fight. Gilbert was doing a great job of pressuring him, but he snapped on the submission out of nowhere. Not only that, but Pettis’s counterpunching showed dramatic improvement. Dos Anjos will hold his own, but he can’t exploit openings the same way as Pettis. Showtime starts slow, but ultimately finishes things via head kick in the third round.

That wraps up another ranger approved edition of the Downes Side. Follow me on Twitter @dannyboydownes. Also, don’t forget to leave your own predictions, disagreements, queries and favorite Texas-based product on the page here. I am a huge fan of Jester King Brewery, but I’d be crazy if I didn’t give a shout out to Texas Roadhouse. If it’s good enough for Swayze, it’s good enough for me.