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Five Questions for the main card of UFC 185

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After hosting a pay-per-view just two weeks ago, the UFC is back with another pay-per-view event. Unlike the last event, it’s evident at how incredible UFC 185 is. All you have to do is look at the poster above this post and realize how excellent this card is. It features two title fights, along with number one contender implications for the welterweight division. Alistair Overeem can put himself in the discussion of a title eliminator fight, if he were to defeat Roy Nelson. It’s great to see a full main card have meaning to it compared to the last event that was fairly limited.

I’m joined by fellow writer Mike Skytte to break down this fantastic card.

1. All the buzz is on Henry Cejudo, as the next possible contender at flyweight. Is it wrong to completely write off a top ten flyweight like Chris Cariaso?

Skytte: I do think it’s a bit wrong. much like the main event. The underdog has much more of a chance than people are giving him credit for. Cejudo being the favorite is justifiable. On paper, at least in my opinion, Cariaso is a very good matchup for someone with the style of Cejudo. So I do think Cejudo wins, but I’m not writing off Cariaso at all. Nobody else should either.

Strk: Fight odds aren’t something that should be used as a frame of reference very often. It does apply in this particular situation because Henry Cejudo has won one UFC fight. That didn’t matter, as they have him as a -500 favorite. His credentials from being an Olympic gold medalist to how poorly Chris Cariaso looked against Demetrious Johnson may have factored into the bizarre odds. For people to completely write off Cariaso is foolish, as he’s proven to be very durable and well rounded throughout his career.

The issue is that he’s not very explosive, along with not threatening at any particular skill. His striking is solid, but doesn’t pose any serious threat like John Lineker or Joseph Benavidez. The difference in speed and athleticism will be apparent here. Unless Cejudo has a horrific weight cut, I’m expecting him to control the fight through his rapid movement and one-two combinations. He’ll eventually go to his bread-and-butter in shooting for a single or double leg to control Cariaso.

2. Alistair Overeem has been given another relatively favorable matchup against Roy Nelson. Do you see him capitalizing against a one-dimensional slow fighter like Nelson or can you see him getting reckless again?

Skytte: I don’t think this is a favorable match-up for Overeem at all. It’s actually a horrible one for him. The fact that he is the favorite here legitimately surprised me. If Overeem makes it out of the first ten minutes, then I’ve severely underestimated him. I believe Overeem will come out, then throw his knees and kicks like usual. When he gets reckless, which we know he will, that’ll lead to Nelson knocking him out. Recklessness has hurt Overeem multiple times throughout his UFC run. Nelson isn’t someone you want to let capitalize on that.

Strk: Any fight that features Alistair Overeem is always an unpredictable spectacle. One of the most well-rounded heavyweights has two significant flaws though. His inability to recover from taking punishment and carelessness are still prevalent. While the move to Greg Jackson’s camp seems to have humbled him, his odd defensive tendencies (or lack thereof) are still concerning against a one-punch knockout specialist in Roy Nelson.

Overeem has all the capabilities to control Nelson for three rounds by utilizing range and his wide variety of striking. The Dutchman’s clinch is as lethal as they come, along with his grappling ability being under-appreciated. Not many heavyweights can out-grapple Stefan Struve. Nelson is prone to taking severe punishment inside the clinch, as shown in his losses against Fabricio Werdum and Frank Mir. If Overeem can control the octagon and constantly force Nelson to move or grapple, this has to be his fight to lose. Nelson’s pace slows down considerably by the second round. It’ll be up to the former Strikeforce champion to stay technically refined against someone who has defied the odds like Nelson has on several occasions.

3. The only major flaw in Johny Hendricks’ arsenal seems to be his cardio. Is that the only real concern you have for him against a relentless Matt Brown?

Skytte: If this was five rounds, absolutely, but Hendricks has proven that he can be involved in high-paced fights for 15 minutes. However, usually in the last round he does start to get noticeably slower. Even in three round fights, so if he steps off the gas even for a moment against a fighter like Matt Brown, he may end up regretting that decision. Though I’d expect this to be an all-out brawl for 15 minutes. You have to consider the pace both of the fighters like to keep. I’m sure they’ll both be worn out by the time the final bell sounds.

Strk: Despite being relatively predictable, Johny Hendricks deserves every ounce of success that he’s achieved. His striking has evolved from throwing the same wild hooks from a few years ago. Leg kicks and a better usage of the jab had propelled him towards becoming champion. His last fight against Robbie Lawler was clearly disappointing, although that has to be attributed to his weight issues. It was evident that he needed a new nutrition plan in the off-season. The near 50-pound weight cut had derailed him.

As durable and relentless as Matt Brown is, it’s hard to find where Brown can outclass him. Hendricks has faced far more devastating strikers such as Lawler and Carlos Condit. Unless his cardio is once again a major issue and the fight goes into the third round, this should be a good fight for him to bounce back in. The former champion is physically stronger and can overwhelm Brown with relentless take-downs. His biggest challenge will be trying to keep up with Brown’s pace. You can only hold him down for so long, before a barrage of punches and forward pressure comes at your direction. If he can match that rigorous pace set by Brown and not be completely fatigued, there are no other concerns.

4. What do you rank higher between Carla Esparza’s wrestling and Joanna Jerdzejczyk’s striking?

Skytte: Carla Esparza’s wrestling for sure. Simply because it can dictate where the fight goes. If Esparza ends up landing some good punches on the feet, she has he ability to make it stay there. If Jerdzejczyk’s advantage in the striking appears as substantial as it appears on paper. Then a woman with the wrestling caliber of Esparza shouldn’t have much of an issue in making Jerdzejcyk fight her fight. She will do a decent job keeping in keeping the fight standing early on. As later this fight goes, the gap in striking gets more narrow, while the gap in wrestling for Esparza just grows.

Strk: You’d have to give Esparza the edge based on her championship lineage of beating the best straw-weights and overpowering upstart Rose Namajunas. Jedrzejczyk is not only a technical striker.  The forward pressure that she implements can be a nuisance. She doesn’t allow her opponent to get comfortable and has a wide variety of combinations. Patrick Wyman explains here that Jerdzejczyk routinely throws 15 to 20 strikes per minute. That’s an absurd rate, although unsurprising given her pace.

Can she throw that many strikes per minute off her back? Esparza has a relentless pace that carries over to a high striking output as well. It’ll be interesting to see how Jerdzejcyk tries to close off the cage to limit Esparza’s constant movement. I’m leaning towards Esparza’s wrestling being more efficient based off her success and ability to be versatile with her boxing. The Polish sensation doesn’t pose much of a threat in the wrestling department. Her straight-line movement is also a concern against such a well-versed fighter like Esparza. In the end, advantage has to be directed towards Esparza implementing her more effective wrestling based game plan.

5. How does Rafael Dos Anjos figure out the Anthony Pettis enigma? As well rounded as Dos Anjos is, Pettis ability to use reach and stay in control seems to be impeccable.

Skytte: As long as dos Anjos fights Pettis the same way, he fought against Benson Henderson and Nate Diaz, he should make this a dog fight. Dos Anjos’ boxing has improved so much in the last few years. What Rafael Cordeiro has been able to do to the striking games of Fabricio Werdum and Dos Anjos is really incredible. He doesn’t only hit hard, but is overall kickboxing game has seen a substantial amount of tweaks. To me, he fought a perfect fight against Nate Diaz. The Brazilian out-struck him and took him down at will, and, when on the ground, he did not rest. He beat him up. He dominated him. I don’t know how this fight ends, and I cannot wait to see it unfold. The only thing I know for sure is that the winner of this fight is without question the best lightweight on the planet.

Strk: Dos Anjos is a battle tested veteran that actually defeated a top-level lightweight that can utilize range like Pettis. His victory over Donald Cerrone featured a two-round onslaught that included a left hook that rocked Cerrone. Dos Anjos displayed excellent movement and ability to change levels that propelled him to the biggest victory of his career at the time. How can he fluster the champion, who hasn’t been flustered since Clay Guida overwhelmed him for three rounds?

The differences in Pettis and Cerrone are quite obvious from the current champion being more explosive and knowing how to fight out of bad situations. Whether it’s being on his back against Benson Henderson or being cornered by Gilbert Melendez, he has overcame those obstacles in highlight-reel fashion. Both fighters are very calculating, but Pettis has the knack of taking risks and weathering forward pressure. Dos Anjos’ has vicious leg kicks and mixes up his boxing effectively under the tout-ledge of Rafael Cordeiro. The thought of trying to stand-and-trade may sound like a death wish against Pettis, but his take-down defense and slick jiu-jitsu limits the chance of taking him down. The Brazilian’s emergence came from either knocking his opponents out or wearing them out with diverse striking. It’s time to put that to his striking to the ultimate test in a five-round title fight.

Twitter: @Allen_Strk & @MikeLovesTacosX

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