UFC 185 Notebook: Violent Tendencies

By: Brian Knapp
Mar 8, 2015
Johny Hendricks has designs on a second welterweight title reign. | Photo: Dave Mandel/Sherdog.com



A nine-month reign atop the Ultimate Fighting Championship welterweight mountain was not enough for Johny Hendricks.

In his first appearance since surrendering the 170-pound title to Robbie Lawler, Hendricks will lock horns with Matt Brown at UFC 185 “Pettis vs. dos Anjos” on Saturday at the American Airlines Center in Dallas. Whoever emerges victorious will have a claim as a potential No. 1 contender.

“I want to get back to that title,” Hendricks told UFC.com in a pre-fight interview, “and nothing is going to get in the way of that.”

Photo: Mike Fridley/Sherdog.com

Brown brings the heat.
Brown probably begs to differ. The 34-year-old Xenia, Ohio, native carries ambitions of his own and has posted seven wins across his last eight appearances, effectively shedding his journeyman label. However, Brown finds himself on the rebound following his five-round decision loss to Lawler in the UFC on Fox 12 headliner in July.

“I just want to constantly evolve, and I think the only way to do that is to put myself out there,” Brown said. “I want to do one step further than what everyone else is doing.”

Hendricks holds some definite advantages on paper, particularly in the wrestling department. The Team Takedown export was a four-time NCAA All-American wrestler at Oklahoma State University, where he won consecutive national championships in 2005 and 2006. Hendricks also wields a concussive left hand that has cut down fighters like Martin Kampmann and Jon Fitch. Healthy anxieties drive Brown.

“I’m scared of Johny Hendricks,” he said. “I’m afraid that he’s working harder than me. I’m afraid that he’s better than me. There is no motivator like fear, right? As I get closer to the fight, I’m going to be more and more scared, until the bell rings and then the fear is gone. Now, he has got to be afraid of me.”

The split decision defeat to Lawler at UFC 181 in December still haunts Hendricks, an Ada, Okla., native who has never lost back-to-back bouts.

“I thought I won,” he said. “That’s whenever I told myself, ‘That won’t happen again.’ I want that belt back, and I know how to get it. Now is the time to prove it.”

WEARING THE BULL’S EYE


(+ Enlarge) | Photo: D. Mandel/Sherdog.com

Can Esparza stay at the top?
Carla Esparza wears the bull’s eye all champions must wear.

Esparza will defend the Ultimate Fighting Championship women’s strawweight crown for the first time when she faces the unbeaten Joanna Jedrzejczyk in the UFC 185 co-main event. A Team Oyama rep, the 27-year-old champion will enter the cage on a five-fight winning streak, having claimed 115-pound gold with a third-round submission on Rose Namjunas in December.

“I think I’ve reached basically the highest point that I can as a fighter being the UFC champion, but as my coach says, ‘Getting the belt: hard. Keeping the belt: even harder,’” Esparza said. “I guess I’ll find out.”

Jedrzejczyk has rattled off eight straight wins to start her career, five of them by decision. She surfaced as the division’s top contender at UFC on Fox 13 in December, when she exited her encounter with Nova Uniao’s Claudia Gadelha with a three-round split decision.

“She has some sick striking [and] really good takedown defense,” Esparza said. “She is one of the best fighters in the world, so it’s definitely going to be a challenge for me.”

THIS & THAT


(+ Enlarge) | Photo: D. Mandel/Sherdog.com

Overeem can close the deal.
Anthony Pettis is the sixth man to have held the UFC lightweight championship. Jens Pulver, Sean Sherk, B.J. Penn, Frankie Edgar and Benson Henderson are the others ... The seven fighters who have defeated Rafael dos Anjos -- Khabib Nurmagomedov, Gleison Tibau, Clay Guida, Tyson Griffin, Jeremy Stephens, Jorge Britto and Adriano Abu -- own a cumulative 139-54-1 record ... Former Dream and Strikeforce champion Alistair Overeem sports 35 finishes among his 38 career victories ... When Roufusport standout Sergio Pettis was born on Aug. 18, 1993, the top five songs on Billboard’s Hot 100 list were UB40’s “Can’t Help Falling In Love,” Tag Team’s “Whoomp! (There It Is),” SWV’s “Weak,” The Proclaimers’ “I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles)” and Onyx’s “Slam” ... Henry Cejudo in 2008 became the youngest American wrestler to win a gold medal, doing so at the age of 21 ... Per FightMetric, Canadian lightweight Sam Stout ranks third on the UFC’s all-time list in significant strikes landed with 970, trailing only Michael Bisping (1,095) and Edgar (1,091) ... Seven of Roger Narvaez’s eight pro bouts have taken place in the state of Texas, and he has won all seven of them ... “The Ultimate Fighter” Season 15 alum Daron Cruickshank graduated from Olivet College with a Bachelor’s degree in fitness management ... Heavyweight Josh Copeland has captured titles in the Resurrection Fighting Alliance and Sparta Combat League promotions ... Joseph Duffy was the last man to defeat Conor McGregor, having submitted the “Notorious” Irishman with a first-round arm-triangle choke at a Cage Warriors Fighting Championship event in November 2010. Their bout took just 38 seconds ... Larissa Pacheco, 20, is the youngest fighter on the current UFC roster.

INSIDE THE VENUE


The American Airlines Center opened in July 2001 at a cost of $420 million and serves as the home arena for the NBA’s Dallas Mavericks and the NHL’s Dallas Stars.

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