New Champions Take Over in Texas (UFC 185 Review)

ufc_185The UFC is much like any other sports league in the world as there are ups and downs every year with fighters and divisions taking focus at different times.

At UFC 185, MMA’s premier promotion featured the two divisions that are taking this focus more than any others right now.

The lightweight division is one of the most exciting in the UFC with a list of contenders that is only growing as the years go one. Meanwhile the women’s strawweight division is the UFC’s newest division and many are waiting to see how the contenders shape up in the UFC’s second women’s division.

The first women’s division was an exciting one but lately has grown to be a bit of a toothless division as Ronda Rousey is so far ahead of every other fighter in the division that her title fights have become an exercise in wondering how she will finish the fight and how fast she will finish.

The women’s bantamweight division can only be saved by a few super fights until a true contender can come to challenge Rousey. The strawweights are different though as they are brand new and their champion did not come in with the level of dominance that Rousey did in the establishment of the women’s bantamweight division.

Carla Esparza went through the toughest tournament in the UFC winning The Ultimate Fighter to become the first strawweight champion. It marked the end of an exciting season that crowned the former Invicta champion as the new UFC champion.

After the show the questions rose about how dominant Esparza could be or if this division has yet to see its dominant champion.

Her win against Rose Namajunas for the title was impressive and in the face of a young fighter that has looked so good throughout the reality show.

It was an announcement that Esparza was ready to take on the responsibilities of a champion and attempt to do what Rousey had done already, clean out a division.

As good as Esparza was though there was little knowledge of the rest of the division aside from the women that were already on the show.

The rest of the division had not been seen by most UFC fans and so the division became more intriguing as fans wondered if Esparza could be the dominant fighter or if another fighter in the division was ready to take the title for herself.

Taking that chance first was Joanna Jędrzejczyk, who had fought in the first ever UFC strawweight fight against Cláudia Gadelha, the #3 ranked strawweight, and was impressive.

She came into her title challenge as the far better striker but Esparza had the championship background and a great wrestling background that made this fight a classic wrestler versus striker.

The biggest difference was going to be whether or not Jędrzejczyk could keep the fight where she wanted it and not let Esparza fight her fight.

It is exactly what the challenger did as Jędrzejczyk showed impressive takedown defence not allowing Esparza to put the fight where she wanted it. That proved to be the difference in the fight as Esparza was simply outclassed on the feet by the superior striker.

Jędrzejczyk unleashed her technical striking and power until it was too much for Esparza to handle and the referee was forced to stop the fight.

The strawweight division remained one of the most intriguing as the first ever champion lost in her first title defence while Jędrzejczyk became only the third European champion in UFC history joining the likes of Bas Rutten and Andrei Arlovski.

Now she gets to carry the torch for the new division and will attempt to be the dominant champion in another division. Then again this could turn into the division that never sees a dominant champion and provides excitement in every championship fight with anyone being able to take the title.

That type of division is exactly what the lightweight division has become in the UFC as there has never really been a truly dominant champion the likes of Anderson Silva or Georges St. Pierre.

The longest reign at the top of the division was over 800 days by B.J. Penn but that reign only including three title defences, which has been match twice but never

Anthony Pettis was looking to change things and by all accounts he seemed like the fighter that could provide that dominance and after some time off after winning the title he was ready to start his run through the most talented division in the UFC.

It was not going to be easy though as the lightweight division has been only adding contenders since Pettis won the title in 2013 and with a host of fighters up to the challenge of beating one of the most creative fighters in the UFC, his run would have to be one of the best ever.

His first title defence was against Gilbert Melendez and it was an impressive showing where Pettis did what he does best, ended the fight early. A submission win took out his first challenger but the likes of Donald Cerrone, Khabib Nurmagomedov, Michael Johnson, Josh Thomson, and Rafael dos Anjos were waiting to get their shots at Pettis’ crown.

It would be dos Anjos to get the first shot out of those fighters as Pettis was looking to get his reign as champion going and dos Anjos was looking to stop it before it truly began.

Much like every lightweight fight the matchup featured two well-rounded fighters with their own strengths. For Pettis it was his creativeness in figuring out ways to end fights while dos Anjos was a powerful fighter with great jiu jitsu.

Generally that creativeness that Pettis shows is enough to keep his opponents on their toes and off-balance, which allows Pettis to do whatever he wants to do.

It was not the case this time though as dos Anjos was not worried about Pettis and was more aggressive than most of the opponents that Pettis has faced.

It was a dominant showing by dos Anjos who had the upper hand in the striking and gave Pettis no room to get creative. The combination of body kicks and significant strikes kept the champion moving back as dos Anjos took over the fight.

By the end of the fight it was clear that dos Anjos was the better man on that night and for his effort he took home the lightweight championship becoming the first Brazilian lightweight champion in the UFC.

The win for dos Anjos continued the pattern for the lightweight title as yet another champion could not hold onto his title for very long.

Pettis took the loss but won’t go away too easily as he remains a young fighter with plenty of years ahead of him. He is sure to be back in the mix in the division and should find his way back to the title.

For dos Anjos it is his turn to try to dominate the division and he will start with the winner of the matchup between Cerrone and Nurmagomedov once he gets healthy after revealing that he fought through a knee injury.

Two new champions emerged after UFC 185 and for both divisions the new champions have continued a trend of being the two most intriguing divisions in the UFC.

The strawwights remain a new division with a lot left to figure out as Jędrzejczyk begins her time at the top with plenty of other fighters trying to figure out where they stand in a division that could see the title change hands regularly.

Meanwhile the lightweight division remains the most exciting division with the most talent as yet another champion could not hold onto his belt and the pattern does not look to be slowing down.



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