UFC 189 preview and predictions

Sorry for the delay guys. My computer’s been messed up of late, and I just got it fixed. What a long day it’s been.

Luckily, UFC 189 is here, to help anyone like me recover from a roller coaster day. Two “title” fights  highlight the main card, while the rest of it is loaded with matchups that are guaranteed to entertain the masses.

The card is already underway, and a lot is going on, so I’ll keep this a lot shorter than usual.

UFC 189 Main card (10/9c, PPV)

Thomas Almeida (19-0) vs. Brad Pickett (24-10)

Opening up the card is a fight that’s sure to be entertaining. Both Almeida and Pickett are electrifying scrappers, with the former being a rising prospect for years, while Pickett has been a longtime fan favorite, due to his wars both with WEC, and inside the octagon.

Almeida has been perfect throughout his MMA career, having knocked out fifteen of his nineteen victims to date, and is looking to add a known name to his belt. Pickett, who is returning to Bantamweight after a relatively unsuccessful stint at Flyweight, is just that.

A lot of people seem to be expecting an execution, but I see it being a better fight than that. I expect the fight to go on for at least a round, before the Brit succumbs to the Brazilian’s might. Prediction: Almeida via tko, round 2.

Gunnar Nelson (13-1-1) vs. Brandon Thatch (11-1)

Up next is a welterweight scrap between two notable prospects, both of whom are coming off uninspiring losses. Nelson fell to Rick Story last October, while Thatch was chocked out by former Lightweight champion Benson Henderson this past Valentines Day.

This is a clear-cut striker vs. grappler bout, with Nelson possessing excellent Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, possessing a black belt within the discipline. Meanwhile, Thatch is a finisher who is primarily known for his flashy striking ability. In the end, I don’t see how Thatch can overcome Nelson.

Nelson has a good chin, while Thatch has shown weaknesses in his ground game. Against a grappling wizard the likes of Nelson, that spells nothing but bad news. I see Thatch having his moments, before Nelson submits him at some point in the third round. Prediction: Nelson via submission, early round 3.

(7) Dennis Bermudez (14-4) vs. Jeremy Stephens (23-11)

Featherweights take the stage next, as two potential contenders aim to rekindle the flame, after falling short in their latest bouts. Bermudez got choked out by Ricardo Lamas last November, causing many to question how overblown the hype behind him was. He did have a seven-fight win streak before that loss, but the loss caused his hype train to derail.

As for Stephens, the man needs a win. He’s lost his last two bouts, after a three-fight winning streak. He lost three straight before that, so a loss will put him on the verge of getting cut.

Bermudez is definitely the better fighter, and it will show here. Stephens will cause some trouble (seems like a repeat sentiment throughout the night,) but Bermudez will win. There’s already expectations of a knockout and submission for this card, but I see this one going the distance. Prediction: Bermudez via decision.

UFC Welterweight Championship: (2) Rory MacDonald (18-2) vs. (C) Robbie Lawler (25-10, 1NC)

The UFC Welterweight Championship is on the line, as Rory MacDonald will look to avenge a stunning decision loss to Lawler from back in November 2013, at UFC 167. MacDonald was a notable favorite in that fight, but lost a decision. Lawler then went on to fight for the title in his next two fights, alternating controversial decisions in a loss, and then a win over Johny Hendricks last March and December. In the meantime, MacDonald decisioned Demian Maia and Tyron Woodley, before fiishing Tarec Saffeidine in October, earning his title shot.

MacDonald is a terrific all around fighter, who can get it done on the feet, on the ground, and has a solid gas tank. Meanwhile, Lawler is a striker through and through, having finished 19 of his 25 wins via knockouts.  He’s a warrior, and always brings it. That’s why he was given the win over Hendricks, and why so few people opposed the decision. His career turnaround is the stuff of legends, and is loved by many.

I’ll admit it, I’m rooting for both men. Rory is the better fighter, while Robbie is impossible to root against. Even if you pick his opponent, you can’t help but cheer for him. This fight is just like that. The heart is picking Lawler, but the head disagrees. Head pick: MacDonald via decision. Heart: Lawler via tko, round 4.

UFC Interim Featherweight Championship: (1) Chad Mendes (17-2) vs. (3) Conor McGregor (17-2)

Finally, it’s time to address the main event of the evening. What was originally scheduled to be the biggest fight in Featherweight history between the only champion Jose Aldo and McGregor, had to be switched just a few weeks ago, due to Aldo’s rib injury. All that promotion, all that hoopla, had to be put to the side, as the Irishman was left looking for a new opponent.

Enter Chad Mendes. A longtime killer in the division, Mendes possesses excellent wrestling, as well as hellacious knockout power. His only losses have come to Aldo, and while an interim title was unnecessary for the most part, Mendes is worthy of the shot.

McGregor has been revolutionary for the lower weight classes. Like him or not, everyome must admit that the polarizing Irishman has made an impact on the lower weight classes like no one before him. Is he cocky? Yes. Arrogant? You bet? Polarizing? Without a doubt. But, it’s all for promotion, and it’s certainly working. He’s gotten people to care about the “little guys,” and that’s what he wanted to do the whole time.

As far as his style goes, it’s all about the striking with him. He’s flashy, and a knockout artist to boot. Fifteen of his 17 career wins have come via knockout, including 12 in the first round. If he is to win this fight, it will have to come in that manner.

That said, Mendes should have this. His weight cut went presumably well, and although he didn’t have much time to prepare for the fight, he is the exact type of fighter that can win this fight. McGregor has never been challenged by a wrestle. All five of his UFC opponents to date, against Brimage, Holloway, Brandao, Poirier and Siver, are primarily strikers. Mendes is not, and I see him derailing the hype train, at least to a degree. I see him wearing McGregor down, before ending the fight in the “championship rounds.” Prediction: Mendes via tko, round 4.


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