UFC 189 was stacked on paper, and not surprisingly the card was absolutely fantastic in play, especially the pay-per-view portion of the card, which featured five finishes in five fights. Let’s start out with the Fight Pass prelims. Both of the fights, a lightweight bout between Yosdenis Cedeno and Cody Pfister and a flyweight bout between Louis Smolka and Neil Seery, were decent, though somewhat forgettable fights. You would hope for a couple more exciting matches to kick off the card, but then again, that’s why these were Fight Pass prelims. As far as the televised prelims go, the first three fights on TV were petty boring, if I’m being honest. The bantamweight contest between Cody Garbrandt and Henry Briones had its moments, but overall was nothing special. The same thing goes for the welterweight bouts between Alex Garcia and Mike Swick and John Howard and Cathal Pendred. None of these fights were very memorable at all, and overall I feel like they hurt the rating of the card as a whole. Thankfully the prelim main event, a welterweight fight between Tim Means and Matt Brown, was a fantastic fight with a great finish, but overall the prelims weren’t that great. The main, pay-per-view card, however, was absolutely incredible. Rarely do you see all fights be exciting and feature finishes, but that’s what happened at UFC 189. The first bout was a bantamweight matchup between Brad Pickett and Thomas Almeida. Most expected a blowout in Almeida’s favor, but it was far from it. Pickett actually won the first round after dropping Almeida and taking him down, but Almeida landed a beautiful flying knee in the second to knock him out in highlight-reel fashion in what was a fantastic PPV opener. Next up was a welterweight bout that saw Gunnar Nelson take on Brandon Thatch. Most figured that Thatch would be able to dominate Nelson on the feet and probably stop him, but instead Nelson was able to drop Thatch with punches and then once the fight hit the mat it was over quickly. It was an incredible performance by Nelson, one that will earn him back a lot of respect from those who were down on him. Then it was a featherweight bout between Dennis Bermudez and Jeremy Stephens. Like most Bermudez fights, this was an all-out war, and like most Stephens fights, a huge knockout happened. The fight was tied going into round three and only a finish would make sure the judges didn’t come into play, and that’s exactly what happened as Bermudez was finished by a Stephens jumping knee and punches. It was a fantastic fight, one that was only slightly marred by Stephens’ weight miss. The co-main event was a five-round welterweight title fight between champ Robbie Lawler and challenger Rory MacDonald. This was an all-out war. Both men left everything they had in the cage, but ultimately Lawler was able to catch MacDonald in the fifth and finish him off with strikes. It was an amazing mixed martial arts match between two incredible fighters, and it should be the win that finally shows the MMA world that Lawler is by far the best welterweight fighter on the planet. And finally, the main event between Conor McGregor and Chad Mendes, which was for the UFC interim featherweight championship, was amazing. Mendes was winning the first two rounds with his wrestling, but late in the second McGregor was able to catch Mendes’ chin and finish him off with strikes. McGregor’s takedown defence is a huge concern going forward, but there’s no doubt he has elite striking and mega power for a 145lber. It was an amazing fight, and it made UFC 189 end on the highest note possible. Overall I rated UFC 189 a 9/10. It was close to getting a perfect 10 rating, but ultimately I felt like the preliminary card wasn’t that great. The main card, though, was something else. There’s a lot of re-watch value here as well, and in a few years down the road, many will look back at UFC 189 fondly and likely consider it one of the all-time must-see UFC events.
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