During the Fox Sports 1 prelims for UFC 182, it was revealed — first on twitter by FrontRowBrian, then confirmed on the broadcast by Ariel Helwani — that UFC 185 will be headlined by Anthony Pettis’ second lightweight title defense. His challenger will be Rafael dos Anjos, who ended 2014 on a three-fight winning streak including victories over former champion Benson Henderson and challenger Nate Diaz. Pettis defeated Henderson for the 155lb belt back in August 2013, and after a lengthy layoff retained against Gilbert Melendez in December 2014 with a second round submission. It will be a welcome sight for MMA fans to see Pettis return a mere four months after his last bout, the first time in three years he has had such a short turnaround. While dos Anjos isn’t the most marketable opponent for the champion, he possesses excellent jiu-jitsu, has shown massive improvement in his technical striking and has developed knockout power in recent years. How well that will match up with the dynamic striking and submission ability of Pettis remains to be seen, but the first indication of how the fight will play out comes from MMA oddsmaker Nick Kalikas, who released the line for the UFC 185 headliner shortly after the announcement at 5Dimes Sportsbook. Kalikas opened Pettis a solid -350 favorite (bet $350 to win $100), with the comeback on dos Anjos at +250 (bet $100 to win $250). I agree with this opener, as I think that everywhere dos Anjos attempts to take this fight, he’ll find himself a step behind the more dangerous champion. The biggest chink in Pettis’ game still remains his takedown defense, and Khabib Nurmagomedov is more apt to challenge him in that realm than dos Anjos, but remains sidelined with a knee injury suffered in 2014.
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