16 Mar Showstopper: Rafael Dos Anjos Dominates Anthony Pettis to win Lightweight Title
Anthony Pettis surely knows this feeling but it seemed like a long time ago. Now, it’s all coming back and in the way he didn’t expect.
“Showtime” lost the UFC lightweight title thanks to a flawless performance by challenger Rafael Dos Anjos, who appear to beat the (former) champion to every punch, kick, elbow, and quite literally, in every opportunity available. Everybody, Pettis included, was taken aback by the one-sided beating.
Apparently, not Dos Anjos.
“Man, it’s such a blessing,” the Brazilian said. “I knew going into this fight I was going to win. I knew I was going to win before this fight happened.
“I’m an MMA fighter. I’m a striker. I’m a jiu-jitsu black belt. I’ve been working on wrestling. I’m the best in the world. Thank you Jesus. I came from the bottom to be here, fighting in a main event, UFC champion.”
All three judges had the scorecards for every round in favor of Dos Anjos, 50-45, making him the first Brazilian-born fighter to capture the UFC lightweight gold. It also marked the 13th win for the 30-year-old, tying him for third all-time in the 155-pound division, trailing only Gleison Tibau and Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone.
It didn’t take long for Dos Anjos to announce he was in it to win it. Inside the first minute of the fight, the Brazilian landed a left to Pettis’ right eye that spelled doom for “Showtime” the rest of the fight.
“He caught me with that left hand and I had no peripheral vision,” Pettis said. “That first left hand — it closed my eye up and I couldn’t see. No excuses, though. No excuses.”
It certainly wasn’t an excuse. After all, it wasn’t a flukey strike or an inadvertent headbutt that did the damage but a legitimate, well-placed straight that was set up by a jab. From thereon out, Dos Anjos couldn’t seem to do anything wrong while everything went downhill for “Showtime”.
It was as one-sided as any title bout we can ever see and the most surprising thing is, it was supposed to be Pettis doing that to Dos Anjos, at least that’s what conventional wisdom and the Las Vegas odds told us. But as it is, Dos Anjos was successful in 9 out of 10 takedown attempts and landed 144 significant strikes to Pettis’ 96– and with such amazing accuracy.
By the second round, a huge cut was already opened above the right eyebrow of Pettis. It was a mauling the rest of the way, a very nasty one.
“I didn’t imagine anybody could do that to Anthony Pettis and he did tonight,” UFC President Dana White, like the most us, shockingly said. “Absolutely dominated him everywhere. Beating Anthony Pettis is a big deal.”
Pettis lost a grinding bout more than three years ago against Clay Guida and while he didn’t exactly stay active afterwards, he improved by leaps and bounds and ravaged through the competition. He knocked out Cerrone and Joe Lauzon while stopping Benson Henderson (for the title) and Gilbert Melendez via submissions. Saturday night, it looked like the previously ranked No.5 pound-for-pound fighter in the world he couldn’t get anything going.
No one knew how Pettis– who normally fights southpaw but started out orthodox against Dos Anjos– was affected by the changes in stance but it definitely played well into the hands of the Rio de Janeiro native. Dos Anjos was even revealed to have ‘blown out’ his MCL three weeks prior to the fight and went on anyways.
Per MMA Weekly, the now lightweight titleholder revealed:
“The day that they were shooting the Countdown with me, the same day that they were shooting part of my sparring session, I popped my knee. I’ve never had a knee injury in my whole life. Thank God my knee is really tough. I’ve got a strong knee, but for the first time this happened. It was like three weeks ago. I couldn’t grapple. I couldn’t wrestle since that.
“I don’t know if you noticed, I didn’t kick in the open workouts. I didn’t use any kicks because I was kind of dehydrated and I didn’t want my injury to get worse. But everything went perfectly in the fight.”
Next up for Dos Anjos is most likely the winner of Khabib Nurmagomedov vs Cerrone tilt in UFC 187 at the MGM on May 23. Interestingly enough, both fighters shared the Octagon with Dos Anjos with different results.
“The Eagle” dismantled the Brazilian the way he dismantled Showtime (April 2014) but Dos Anjos got the better of “Cowboy” one year before he was soundly beaten by Nurmagomedov.
How will this play out? In this sport, the excitement can be as significant as the plot itself. That’s the beauty of it all.
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