Chances are if you ask most people who will win this Saturday’s scrap between Rafael dos Anjos and Anthony Pettis, they’ll likely say the latter. According to Khabib Nurmagomedov, however, not only is dos Anjos going to become lightweight champion at UFC 185, he’s going to “smash” Mr. Pettis…
Now sure, anyone who has followed dos Anjos in the last couple of years, knows that the lightweight is an extremely rugged and well rounded fighter. The 30 year-old, BJJ black belt is a beast on the ground, and in addition, dos Anjos has developed a pretty nasty striking game to go along with it.
But, will it be enough to counter and overcome the stand-up skills of Pettis? Who many would argue is one of the most dangerous strikers on the planet? Or, will dos Anjos be able to take Pettis down and shut down his often overlooked ground game?
Well, recently Nurmagomedov was asked to weigh in on Saturday’s headliner, while speaking to MMA Fighting.com, and here’s some of what he had to say:
“I think [dos Anjos] smashes [Pettis] in striking and I think he smashes him on the ground,” Nurmagomedov said. “This is my opinion. I don’t know why, but I think he’ll smash him.”
“Dos Anjos is no easy man,” Nurmagomedov said. “A lot of people watch and think I beat him easy, but it was not easy. It was no easy fight.”
Wow. That’s quite the bold prediction. Sure, a lot of people likely believe dos Anjos has a decent shot at defeating Pettis, but smashing him? Guess we’ll find out soon enough. According to the betting lines, Pettis is the favorite to win in the -350 to -450 range.
Nurmagomedov worked his way to a unanimous decision win over dos Anjos last April, which marked the only time since 2011 that the latter has been defeated. Since then, dos Anjos has gone on to defeat Jason High, Benson Henderson and Nate Diaz, and secure a title shot.
“The Eagle” might have been next in line to face Pettis for the belt, but he was sidelined with a knee injury, and now he’ll fight Donald Cerrone at UFC 187 on May 23rd. The winner of that bout is expected to lock up a title shot.
UFC 185 will be hosted by the American Airlines Center in Dallas, Texas.