What happened at UFC 185 was just about as shocking and unexpected as anything the UFC has offered in the octagon in years. Probably the only thing more shocking this year so far would have been Anderson Silva’s drug test failure. In short: two titles changed hands. Two new champions were crowned. And two fighters favored to win lost, and lost badly.

In the case of Anthony Pettis, he was battered pillar to post in his lightweight title defense against Rafael dos Anjos. RDA was simply the better fighter. Pettis did take early damage to his eye that gave him vision problems, but he was ineffective almost from the opening bell. Overall, it was not a great night for the Pettis brothers (younger brother Sergio was knocked out earlier on the card).

The drubbing was so sound that it was reminiscent of T.J. Dillashaw vs. Renan Barao, though the upset not nearly as major, as dos Anjos has been on a tear of late against top opponents. That said, few saw such a dominant performance over the champ coming.

Where does Anthony Pettis go from here? Given how badly he was beaten, an immediate rematch is probably off the table. He’ll need at least a win or two to get a shot at taking the belt back.

Here are a few options:

Michael Johnson

Though the UFC generally likes to pair winners with winners and losers with losers, a recently defeated champion has often been the exception to that rule. Thus it matters not that Johnson is on a four fight win streak. In fact, that makes the fight more attractive, as he’s currently ranked sixth in the division and is one of the few fighters Pettis hasn’t already faced towards the upper half of the top ten.

His most recent win came over Edson Barboza in February, so the timing would work out well depending on medical suspensions.

Edson Barboza

Speaking of Barboza, the Brazilian striker is also an option, and one that would certainly bring some fantastic action in the octagon. Both Pettis and Barboza have a dangerous arsenal of kicks at their disposal, and this would be a fantastic fight for fans. Barboza is ranked eighth, but the two have never fought. And once again, the timing lines up well, as long as both fighters are healthy.

While he’s the lower ranked opponent, this might actually be the more entertaining fight for fans.

Donald Cerrone vs. Khabib Nurmagomedov Loser

This is probably the option that makes the most sense given Pettis’ status in the division. “Showtime” needs to be fighting top guys, and while the winner of Cerrone vs. Nurmagomedov will likely fight for the title, it simply makes sense that the loser get to face the former lightweight champion.

Cerrone has lost to Pettis once before, but he’s always an entertaining fighter, and he never turns down a fight. Nurmagomedov, meanwhile, might be a stylistic nightmare for Pettis, but he’s the type of fighter the now former champion must go up against if he really wants to become the dominant lightweight champ many expect him to be.

About The Author

Senior Staff Writer

Covering the sport of MMA from Ontario, Canada, Jay Anderson has been writing for various publications covering sports, technology, and pop culture since 2001. Jay holds an Honours Bachelor of Arts degree in English from the University of Guelph, and a Certificate in Leadership Skills from Humber College under the Ontario Management Development Program. When not slaving at the keyboard, he can be found in the company of his dog, a good book, or getting lost in the woods.