Rafael dos Anjos punished Anthony Pettis with several, telling strikes on Saturday night, but one punch in particular, played a big role in ending the latter’s reign as UFC lightweight champ.
Early on into the bout, dos Anjos landed a booming left hand to the right eye of Pettis, and from then on, the dynamic fighter appeared to be having difficulties with it. Then, after dos Anjos worked his way to a unanimous decision win, Pettis relayed that he couldn’t see out of his eye.
The newly crowned champ appeared on the latest edition of “The MMA Hour” this week, and while discussing the bout, dos Anjos relayed the following (comments via MMA Fighting.com):
“I was in my corner between rounds and I looked at the other side and I saw him like uncomfortable with that eye. I said ‘that’s the key. I have to put pressure’,” dos Anjos said. “Anthony is a great champion, he changed my game a little bit, started going to my left side, but I’m glad I did my strategy well. Like I said in the interview before the fight, everybody has a plan before the punch. The first punch I landed, he felt. The punch changed the fight.
“When I landed the first takedown in the end of the round, I thought ‘man, I got two good weapons here’. Once I hit him hard, he’ll forget about the takedown because my plan wasn’t going straight for the takedown. The plan was straight punch and keep the fight standing. Once I saw that opening for the takedown, I thought ‘man, now I have one more weapon’, then I started using it in the last rounds.”
Going into the bout, many fans and pundits knew that dos Anjos would likely give Pettis some serious trouble, if he could take the dynamic fighter down and keep him there. While that proved to be true at UFC 185, it was the striking game of dos Anjos that set his grappling game in motion (as he noted).
Now, dos Anjos will rehab his injured knee and will wait to see who wins between Khabib Nurmagomedov and Donald Cerrone on May 23rd. It will be interesting to see what goes down in the champ’s next fight, whoever it takes place against.
That fight will be part of UFC 187, which will go down at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.