Last night, UFC 185 took place at the American Airlines Center in Dallas, Texas and was headlined by a pair of title fights that pitted Carla Esparza against Joanna Jędrzejczyk and Anthony "Showtime" Pettis against the wily Brazilian Rafael dos Anjos. While on paper the main card seemed likely to steal the show, it was infact the preliminary card which generated the most excitement.
The night's opening bout pitted two exciting women's bantamweights against each other, with the winner hoping to break into the division top 10.
Germaine de Randamie, a 3 time world Muay Thai champion, had a clear striking advantage on paper coming into the bout with Pacheco and as the opening round transpired, it became apparent that de Randamie's footwork would cause Pacheco a lot of trouble. Towards the middle of the first round, de Randamie loosened up on the feet and began to land solid combos with her hands, showing the vast disparity in the level of striking between her and Pacheco. As the round came to a close, de Randamie was quite clearly ahead.
As the second round began it was more of the same for de Randamie. She walked through Pacheco's meager offense and landed heavy shots, eventually rocking Pacheco and following up with a barrage of strikes that forced the referee to end the fight.
Result: Germaine de Randamie def. Larissa Pacheco via TKO (punches) - Round 2, 2:02
Next up was the debut of Irish star Joseph Duffy, against the ever aggressive American, Jake Lindsey.
Joseph Duffy had a lot of hype behind himself coming into this fight. His unblemished professional boxing record complemented his mixed martial arts record, which contains the notable scalps of Conor McGregor and "Stormin" Norman Parke, so it came as no surprise when Duffy entered the Octagon as a heavy betting favourite against Lindsey, who was on a two fight losing streak.
The bout began with Duffy utilising his jab and some solid movement, earnestly defending against some of Lindsey's telegraphed leg kicks, before unloading with some heavy leather of his own, temporarily dazing Lindsey before landing a devastating head kick that all but signalled the beginning of the end. As Lindsey tried to recover from the head kick, Duffy showed his boxing savvy and began to target the fleeting fighter's body, causing him to drop to the canvas and the referee to call a halt to proceedings.
Result: Joseph Duffy def. Jake Lindsey via TKO (punches) - Round 1, 1:47
It wasn't a good night for the Pettis boys. Sergio Pettis entered the Octagon against Ryan Benoit as a substantial betting favorite, but things wouldn't go to plan for the Duke Roufus protege.
The first round went as many expected it would, with Sergio Pettis imposing his will on the feet early, landing clean and often, really making Benoit look far less technical. Benoit exhibited his frustration at his perceived striking disadvantage, changed levels and landed a takedown. While taking Pettis to the canvas might have seemed like a good idea for Benoit, Pettis still looked dangerous off his back before sweeping Benoit and landing some ground and pound before letting Benoit return to his feet. Once the fight hit the feet, it was more of the same for Pettis landing clean, powerful strikes before taking Benoit to down to end the round.
Entering the second round Pettis was clearly ahead on the judges score card. As the second round began, Pettis began to look for the take down, but Benoit stuffed him on two occasions. As the round went on Benoit grew in confidence, landing flush with a left hook, which he followed up with a barrage of strikes causing the referee to step in and stop the fight. Benoit drew boos from the crowd after replays revealed that he kicked Pettis literally in the butt right after the referee stopped it, but he was apologetic in the post-fight interview with Joe Rogan.
Result: Ryan Benoit def. Sergio Pettis via TKO (punches) - Round 2, 1:34
Jared Rosholt vs. Josh Copeland
Next up was a matchup between elite wrestler Jared Rosholt and Octagon newcomer Josh Copeland, appearing in just his 2nd UFC fight.
Round 1 of this fight was mainly fought at striking distance, with both heavyweights seeming reluctant to over commit. It was Jared Rosholt's strength advantage that seemed to be the deciding factor in the opening stanza with the tough wrestler being able to utilise good clinch work against Copeland.
In round 2 it was more of the same for Jared Rosholt until he finally landed a spectacular slam takedown. Once in top position it was all Rosholt, landing some solid ground and pound to wind out round.
As round 3 began it became quickly apparent that Copeland was beginning to fade. The Colorado native's take down defence proved non existent when Rosholt easily took him down and transitioned into side control landing heavy strikes, until the referee was left with no option but to call an end to proceedings.
Result: Jared Rosholt def. Josh Copeland via TKO (punches) - Round 3, 3:12
Round 1 of this fight was quite exciting, with both fighters landing well on the feet with very little to pick them apart. The deciding factor of the 1st round was perhaps Daron Cruickshank somewhat ambitiously going for a flying knee, which lead to him being taken down, which likely won Dariush the round.
Cruickshank came out aggressive in the second, but it would be his aggression that would be his undoing. Following a failed takedown attempt from Cruickshank, Dariush took his back and after a brief scramble, ended up locking in a rear-naked choke.
Result: Beneil Dariush def. Daron Cruickshank via submission (rear-naked choke) - Round 2, 2:48
Elias Theodorou entered his fight against Roger Narvaez with a lot of hype behind him and duly delivered.
In the first round Theodorou looked to take Narvaez down but struggled and was left to showcase his kickboxing instead, landing the cleaner and more efficient strikes than his counterpart including some slick body kicks.
Round 2 was all Theodorou, Narvaez looked tired from the opening bell and Theodorou easily scored a takedown. Narvaez gingerly managed to return to his feet but Theodorou began to land clean and heavy strikes against the now exhausted Narvaez. Theodorou once more took down Narvaez, but this time there would be no coming back for Narvaez as Theodorou landed devastating strikes on the ground until the referee was forced to intervene.
Result: Elias Theodorou def. Roger Narvaez via TKO (punches) - Round 2, 4:07
When Sam Stout vs. Ross Pearson was announced, everyone expected a stand up brawl and they were not disappointed.
Round 1 was very entertaining with both fighters landing good shots, but it seemed like Pearson was trying too hard to land the ultra heavy knockout blow and was missing with a quite a lot of his telegraphed haymakers. For the most part, Stout looked rather good landing a lot of decent combos but on a number of occasions the Canadian's footwork seemed non existent.
As the second round began, it seemed that Pearson had spotted the error of his ways and became more selective with his punching output. Sam Stout began once more to showcase his volume striking but Pearson managed to slip a combo before uncorking a picture perfect left hook, which rendered Sam Stout unconscious.
Result: Ross Pearson def. Sam Stout via knockout (punches) - Round 2, 1:33
What was the high point of the prelims?
Two performances really stood out for me in the prelims. Firstly, Joseph Duffy looked stellar in his Octagon debut scoring an impressive first round stoppage of Jake Lindsey, which will no doubt further fuel comparisons between Duffy and his former foe Conor McGregor. My other high point was Ross Pearson's knockout of Sam Stout. Pearson has never truly lived up to his potential since winning The Ultimate Fighter, but last night he once more showed shades of the brilliance that have made fans enamoured with his fighting style.