To call UFC 185 a night of upsets would be an understatement.
What was initially thought of as an entertaining, predictable night of fights, ended with the crowning of two new UFC champions in staggering upsets. Both the victors usurped dominant adversaries and helped bring about one of the most memorable nights of fights in recent memory.
In the aftermath of the Dallas PPV show, several storylines have drastically changed, and others came to an abrupt end. Apart from the new titleholders, several other notable combatants earned significant wins that altered the state of their division, even if only slightly.
Rafael dos Anjos pulled off one of the biggest upsets in recent memory when he dominated the lightweight champion for five consecutive rounds. The fight was not even close. Dos Anjos peppered Pettis with strikes, wobbled him numerously and mauled him on the ground until he broke the former champ's spirit. The Brazilian produced a flawless performance and will go down as arguably one of the most improved UFC fighters in the past few years. Now he is the latest in a long line of Brazilian UFC champions.
Joanna Jedrzejczyk became the third European champion in UFC history when she demolished Carla Esparza in the co-main event of UFC 185. She oozed confidence all week in Dallas and lived up to the hefty expectations she placed upon herself, as well as those of the nation she represented. She silenced naysayers with superior takedown defense and absolutely brutalized Esparza with strikes to force a referee stoppage. Now, as she suggested earlier this week, we can all refer to her as Joanna Champion.
Khabib Nurmagomedov may not have been one of the fighters on the UFC 185 PPV card, but his name was constantly mentioned on twitter timelines during dos Anjos' demolition of Pettis. Given that he is the last man to beat the Brazilian, the Dagestani will likely be smiling to himself as he prepares for his UFC 187 bout against Donald Cerrone.
Johny Hendricks overcame his dietary woes this week in Dallas and managed to get a dominant win in front of his hometown fans. He reverted back to his base, wrestling, and used it aggressively against Brown. The Ohio native had no answer for Hendricks' grappling and therefore was subjected to three rounds on his back desperately struggling to stay active. With his weight troubles seemingly behind him, the former champion will undoubtedly have his eyes on a title shot in the near future.
Alistair Overeem surprised many on Saturday night and earned arguably one of his best wins inside the octagon. He neutralized Nelson's entire game and managed to withstand many of the heavyweight's patented punches to earn a decision win. The Dutch kickboxing champion and former Strikeforce heavyweight titleholder showed crisp striking throughout the bout, as he mixed up his leg kicks with knees to the body to keep "Big Country" at bay for the better part of 15 minutes. Although he did get tagged at various points in the fight, he managed to weather the storm and patiently implement his gameplan - a noticeable improvement since moving to Jacksons MMA. Overeem is now on a two-fight win streak and it will be interesting to see who the UFC matches him up with next.
Henry Cejudo punished Chris Cariaso for the better part of three rounds in the opening fight on the main card. He controlled his opponent for the entirety of the bout and used a mixture of a top-heavy wrestling game and damaging blows from the mount to secure a clear decision win. Given that he comfortably made weight, it is likely that the UFC will push for a title fight at some point in 2015. However, he will likely have to prove that he can make weight once more, so a title eliminator bout may be in his future.
Elias Theodorou did exactly what was expected of him on fight night, as he implemented his trademark dirty grinding style before finishing with a brutal barrage of strikes that lasted far longer than necessary. Given that the Canadian has noticeable charisma, it was important for him to put on an impressive showing in the octagon, as that is what will determine his place in the rankings. It will be interesting to see how the UFC utilizes the middleweight talent from here on.
Beneil Dariush continues to improve by leaps and bounds with every fight since his TKO loss to Ramsey Nijem nearly a year ago. He has compiled a 3-0 record since then, including his most recent victory over Daron Cruickshank, where he proved that he has the potential to be a true force in the lightweight division. He outstruck the striking specialist and then dominated him on the ground. After several failed attempts, he finally sunk in a rear-naked choke in the second round.
Joseph Duffy laid out the exact blueprint for a perfect UFC debut on Saturday night. Armed with Firas Zahabi in his corner, the Irishman looked calm during his 90-second destruction of Jake Lindsey. He displayed crisp boxing, mixed up his strikes, and eventually landed a fight ending head kick to complete his illustrious debut. Since he has been labeled the "last man to beat Conor McGregor" in most articles, it was good to see him come up with a debut arguably as memorable as his fellow countryman's.
Anthony Pettis was labeled the "dynamic" and "spectacular" UFC champion who was en route to superstardom. Somewhere during fight week, that champion disappeared and was replaced by a shadow of his former self - one that was unable to handle the relentless grappling of his Brazilian adversary. Given the expectations that most had on Pettis, this was a disheartening showing from one of the UFC's brightest talents.
Carla Esparza quickly realized that her one-dimensional wrestling-heavy gameplan was not going to work against her Polish counterpart, and once the tide turned against her, which was almost immediately, she did little to adapt to the fight. She took on the role of a sitting duck while Joanna bombarded her with vicious strikes until the referee was forced to step in out of mercy. It should be noted that Esparza looked particularly pale ahead of the fight and gassed out less than four minutes into the opening round, which is inexcusable for a UFC champion.
Matt Brown had no answers for Johny Hendricks' wrestling and was unable to implement his trademark aggressive Muay Thai and clinch work. It was a disappointing showing from one of the most exciting fighters on the roster and one who also holds the record for most knockout wins in the division. He will remain a staple in the Top 10, but he is clearly unable to make that final leap towards title contention.
Roy Nelson looked like a man who planned to simply rely on his overhand right to win the fight. Apart from a few clean shots that wobbled Overeem during the 15-minute bout, Nelson did little to prove that he had even prepared accordingly for the fight at hand. He looked lethargic and simply had no answers for the varied striking that the Dutchman brought to the octagon. It was a disappointing performance overall and puts Nelson at 0-2 over the past year.
Sam Stout has now suffered back-to-back KO losses in his last two fights in the UFC, which does not bode well his chances of retaining his longtime spot on the roster. Given that he has now endured violent head trauma in consecutive fights, it would not be surprising if this is the Canadian's last fight in the octagon.