"Through Jesus, you can do all things!"
That's what Rafael Dos Anjos yelled after giving Anthony Pettis a five-round beatdown en route to becoming the first Brazilian UFC lightweight champion. His "David vs. Goliath" victory capped off an amazing PPV which also saw Joanna Jedrzejczyk crush Carla Esparza in two rounds, which was another upset I didn't see coming. Here are my thoughts on each match of the card.
Caraiso vs. Cejudo: As expected, Cejudo schooled Caraiso in a grappling clinic to get the decision. Caraiso did almost get a heel hook near the end of Round 3, but it was too little, too late. Even though I don't think Cejudo's quite ready yet, I wouldn't be surprised if he gets a title shot after this, especially if "Mighty Mouse" wins next month.
Nelson vs. Overeem: Overeem made me eat my words by picking apart "Big Country" en route to a decision. In particular, flying knees to the chest and body kicks which turned the entire right side of Nelson's body red were the keys to victory for "The Reem." He also showed better defense, dodging (and a couple of times, running from) Nelson's fists and covering up when Nelson wailed on him to protect his chin. Wagging his finger at Nelson to taunt him after stuffing a takedown may not have been the classiest move, but it was entertaining nonetheless.
Hendricks vs. Brown: Has Hendricks' "punch-punch-takedown" style become formulaic? Yes. But hey, it works. He basically smothered "The Immortal" for three rounds, using his wrestling to stymie all of Brown's submission attempts, including a couple of inverted triangle attacks. Not to mention that the slams that "Bigg Rigg" used, especially the one when he carried Brown to the center of the octagon and planted him into the mat, made me nostalgic for the days when WWE was actually good.
Esparza vs. Jedrzejczyk: Joanna is the Polish She-Hulk! First, she sprawled, stuffed or reversed nearly all of "The Cookie Monster's" takedown attempts. Then Jedrzejczyk broke the former champion's face with brutal straight rights until she finished Esparza against the cage with a flurry in Round 2 for the TKO. In all honesty, though, Jedrzejczyk had crushed Esparza mentally long before that. With her wrestling completely neutralized, Esparza had no clue what to do. She fell into the insanity trap of doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result, seemingly unable to believe that the wrestling ability which took her to the top was completely useless against her opponent. Overeem made me eat my words; Jedrzejczyk, the new women's strawweight champ, shoved them down my throat!
Pettis vs. Dos Anjos: Dos Anjos was way too nice to make me eat my words. Instead, he politely served me humble pie, slice-by-slice, through manhandling the best striker in the UFC. Dos Anjos used straight lefts to smash Pettis' right eye so that he couldn't see. Then he used multiple takedowns to ground the high-flying champ and brutalized him with ground-and-pound. On top of that, he rode Pettis' back and nearly got a rear naked choke not once, but twice. Additionally, he almost got a kimura. Pettis did attempt a kimura-sweep in Round 5, but Dos Anjos wasn't having it. In the end, Dos Anjos claimed the lightweight throne as his own before acknowledging the real source of his victory: Jesus Christ.
Ironically, Dos Anjos admitted in a post-fight interview that he had almost pulled out of the fight due to a torn MCL in his right knee. However, Dos Anjos prayed to God and God told him that he would be fine. I can only imagine what Dos Anjos will do when he is at 100%!