The Consistency of Change… The UFC’s Lightweight Division
One thing is for sure, you never know what to expect in the UFC’s Lightweight 155lb division. At UFC 185, Rafael Dos Anjos not only took the Championship away from reigning title holder Anthony Pettis, he did so with relative ease. Pettis is not overrated, however he is two dimensional. Dos Anjos strategy of mixing it up, changing levels and never giving Pettis a standing target kept the Champion off-balance and after 5 rounds cost him his title.
In a generation of mixed martial artists, it has become clear that not only do you have to be good or even great at one discipline but multiple. The more, the better chance at survival. Anthony Pettis is among the elite strikers in the game and his BJJ is underrated only by the level of impressiveness of his striking game.
Dos Anjos had the perfect strategy against Pettis. He got the better of Pettis in every exchange because the talented striker and BJJ fighter never really knew what was coming. Dos Anjos constantly changed levels, kept moving to avoid being a target and mixed up his angles throughout the fight. On the ground he never put himself in a bad position to make himself vulnerable to Pettis’ submission game. In what was a bad night for the Pettis family (brother Sergio lost as well), he almost made it look easy while he picked apart the champion and took his title.
In a division where long title reigns used to be the norm, only 3 champions (Penn, Edgar & Henderson) since 2008 when BJ Penn won the then vacant championship, Pettis’ 2 defenses might become the new trend.
Rafael Dos Anjos will have to keep his head on a swivel with the division more stacked then ever. There is literally a new number one contender for the belt every couple months and with Cerrone/Nurmagomedov winner waiting on deck, it doesn’t get easier. Pettis will surely get a rematch and while he’s flirting with 170, you can’t forget about former champion Henderson. That’s not even mentioning up and comers such as Bobby Green on the horizon as well as vets like Gilbert Melendez who at one time was considered the best in the world in the weight class.
2015 is just getting warmed up and the summer usually always delivers some exciting fights. Will Dos Anjos turn away all challengers and maintain some consistency at the top of the division? It’s possible, he’s on a hot streak and has the elite skill level to do so, but with the murders row staring him down it isn’t likely.