On Saturday, March 14, 2015, the UFC heads to the American Airlines Center in Dallas for UFC 185 and all eyes will be on the lightweight title fight between champion Anthony Pettis and challenger Rafael dos Anjos.

This will be the biggest fight of dos Anjos’ career and he is going to have to put on the fight of his life against the dynamo that is Pettis. With tremendous speed, excellent footwork and a knack for doing the unexpected, Pettis’ journey to the championship has been filled highlight reel moments. Whether he is jumping off the cage, landing a head kick or diving on a submission, everything Pettis does has some flare.

But as the saying goes, “styles make fights” and dos Anjos’ skill set will pose a lot of problems for Pettis. Where as Pettis is about flash and style, dos Anjos is about grit and toughness. His mentality is going to be, “make it ugly” against Pettis.

Leg Kicks

While Pettis can do work on the inside when he needs to, his game is predicated on movement and distance; taking that away will be step one for dos Anjos. What’s the best way to take away a fighter’s speed and mobility? Leg kicks, leg kicks, leg kicks all day long. Dos Anjos needs to brutalize the legs of Pettis from start to finish.

Another reason why dos Anjos needs to target the legs early is the fact that Pettis employs a kick heavy arsenal of attacks. Not only will leg kicks slow Pettis down, but they will also take some power and speed out of his leg arsenal.

Pressure

Pettis has never had any cardio issues, but he has struggled at times against fighters who push the pace and apply constant pressure. While pressuring Pettis against the cage didn’t turn out well for Gilbert Melendez, keeping the pressure on Pettis will be essential for dos Anjos. Forcing Pettis to fight on the inside gives dos Anjos the advantage because of his rapidly improving Muay Thai game.

Variety

The most important component to a dos Anjos upset though will be variety. That’s where Melendez’s fatal flaw truly was against Pettis. Melendez just looked to press him against the cage. Once Pettis knew he couldn’t take him down he knew he could focus on picking his shots.

Dos Anjos needs to attack and apply pressure, but he needs to do it in different ways over the course of the fight. Keep Pettis guessing and off balance. Because dos Anjos is such a well-rounded fighter he has the ability to do this better than just about anyone else in the lightweight division.

Pick: dos Anjos via Unanimous Decision

About The Author

RJ Gardner
Content Coordinator

RJ Gardner is a rabid sports fan and a long time MMA enthusiast. After watching UFC 1 at ripe old age of 11 RJ was hooked and his passion for the sport has continued to blossom over the years. RJ has been covering MMA since 2007 and has had work featured on Bleacher Report, SI.com, CBSSports.com and UFC.com. RJ is also a Petroleum Transportation Operations Manager during the day.