UFC 189 originally was McGregor vs Aldo and I truly believed someone was about to finally stop and shut up the least active champion in the UFC and win the title. Now McGregor has to fight Mendes for the “interim” title. I put the interim in quotes because I agree with Frankie the main man Edgar that it is just more of a number one contender fight since the winner’s next fight will be against Aldo for the undisputed title. This fight card in my opinion gained more interest though to me because I prefer to watch Mendes over Aldo any day of the week. I do want to say though that Aldo should never have gotten injured because your training partner should never be doing a spinning back kick 10 days before a fight. Just a braindead move and should have been stripped of the title with all honesty. Now all that being said the main event is still a must see PLUS the CO-Main is a McDonald vs. Lawler title fight and that is one hell of a fight. Now to the picks. Also this marks the first official fight card in which the fighters are required to wear the new Reebok fight gear so most fighters should have new walk-out and fight apparel.
Fox Sports 1 Prelims
Cody Garbrandt vs. Henry Briones: The first fight of the prelim card kicks off with a bantamweight fight between two fairly new fighters in the UFC. Cody Garbrandt is much newer to the sport, starting in 2012, with six wins and no losses. All of Garbrandt’s wins have been by knockout and four of those were in the first round. Before MMA, Garbrandt was an amateur boxer and he had a record of 32-1. His opponent in this fight is Henry Briones who has a professional record of 19-4-1. Briones was on The Ultimate Fighter Latin America and is on a seven fight unbeaten streak (6-0-1). Briones has won ten fights by knockout and five fights by submission with 11 of these finishes being in the first round. I predict this fight will be mostly standing, showing off both fighters striking skill and footwork. I think this fight will go the distance and Henry Briones will win by decision.
Cathal Pendred vs. John Howard: The next fight is a welterweight matchup between two unranked fighters. Cathal Pendred has a professional record of 17-3-1. Pendred went 7-0-1 leading up to competing on The Ultimate Fighter season 19 and has been 4-0 since joining the UFC. Pendred has six wins by knockout and one win by submission with two first round finishes. Pendred also has a blue belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. On the other side of the cage is John Howard who is 22-11 in his professional career. There is a lot to say about John Howard. Howard has been in and out of the UFC. Howard has a 6-6 record while in the UFC and a 6-1 record while outside the UFC. Overall he has six wins by submission and nine wins by knockout, six of those knockouts were outside of the UFC. Howard is known for coming back at the edge of defeat to score the victory and Pendred is known for keeping a steady forward pace and not letting up. This will be an interesting fight and possibly one to watch out for. I think this fight can go in any direction and both fighters will feel equally comfortable. With those in mind I will say that this fight will go to the third round and it is going to end by a TKO. As for who will be giving and who is stuck receiving I am going to say Pendred will take the victory because so far he has shown he can better handle this level of competition.
Mike Swick vs. Alex Garcia: The next fight on the card is between a fighter on a hot streak and a veteran looking to re-establish himself in the UFC. This fight also takes place between two welterweight fighters. Alex Garcia may have lost his last match, but it was only his second loss and he has 12 wins to go along with them. Among the 12 wins he has a balanced five by knockout and five by submission. Nine of those ten finishes were in the first round. His opponent is Mike “Quick” Swick. Swick is 15-5 and has not fought since 2012. Swick has eight wins by knockout and three wins by submission. He won his first four fights in a combined time of 5:01. Swick went 1-4 before taking leave in 2012. Now he is back on a mission to solidify his spot as one of the top contenders. These two fighters are both good Jiu-Jitsu specialists and we may see a great grappling matchup, but we will also see good striking between both of them. Even though most fans do not see a heavy grappling match as exciting, these fighters will add striking to create an entertaining match. I predict that this fight will go into the second round and Mike Swick will pick up the TKO victory after wearing his opponent down.
(#5)Matt Brown vs. Tim Means: The main event of the prelims is another welterweight matchup. These two fighters are seasoned in the UFC. Matt Brown is the #5 ranked fighter in the welterweight division and has a record of 21-13. Brown has 13 wins by knockout and six wins by submission and only five fights that have gone to decision. Matt Brown has also won seven of his last nine fights. His opponent Tim Means has a professional record of 24-6-1. Means has 16 wins by knockout and four wins by submission. Means has won 15 of his last 18 fights and is on a four fight win streak. Both fighters are known for intensity and are excellent strikers. I think this fight will be very high paced and the fight will actually be over in the first round. Tim Means will put up a good fight, but I predict that Matt Brown will gain the victory.
UFC 189 Main Card
(#15)Brad Pickett vs. (#14)Thomas Almeida: The main card is here and the first fight of the card is a flyweight matchup. Brad Pickett is the #15 ranked flyweight and has a professional record of 25-10. Pickett has ten wins by submission and eight wins by knockout. Pickett has lost four of his last six fights, but they were from high level contenders and most were losses by decision. His opponent is the #14 ranked Thomas Almeida. Almeida is 19-0 with 14 wins by knockout and four wins by submission. Almeida has finished 14 opponents in the first round and lands almost eight significant strikes per minute. I think match will be over quickly with Thomas Almeida gaining the victory by first round knockout.
(#15)Gunnar Nelson vs. Brandon Thatch: The next fight is the fourth welterweight matchup on the card tonight. These fighters have very similar records. Gunnar Nelson has a professional record of 13-1-1. Nelson has a black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and a brown belt in Karate and has won many tournaments in both disciplines. Nelson has eight wins by submission and four by knockout, making only one of his wins by decision. Of his 12 finishes, ten of them were over in the first round. His opponent Brandon Thatch has a professional record of 11-2. Thatch has eight wins by knockout and three by submission, meaning he finished all of his wins. On top of that all of his finishes were in the first round and six of his knockouts were in the first minute. That creates a lot of questions about how Brandon Thatch will perform in the later rounds. An example of this concern can be seen in both his losses, one ended in the third round and the other in the fourth. I am unsure how to call this, but it will go one of two ways. Either Thatch will pick up another knockout in the first round or Nelson will pick up a submission victory in the third.
(#8)Dennis Bermudez vs. (#11)Jeremy Stephens: This next fight is a featherweight matchup between two ranked fighters. The #8 ranked Dennis Bermudez has a professional record of 15-4. Bermudez has won seven of his last eight fights and the one loss was his last fight. Just over half of his wins were finishes and they were split four and four between knockouts and submissions. In college, Bermudez was a NCAA ranked Division 1 wrestler and he prides himself in having a white belt in every martial arts style. His wrestling background shows in his 92% of takedowns defended. Jeremy Stephens has a record of 23-11 and is the #11 ranked featherweight. Stephens has 16 wins by knockout and two wins by submission. This will be his sixth fight at featherweight and his record for this division is 3-2. I think that Stephens will want to keep this fight standing to avoid his opponent’s grappling. Unfortunately for him I believe that Bermudez’s wrestling prowess will overpower Stephens and Bermudez will pick up a submission in the second round.
(C)Robbie Lawler vs. (#2)Rory MacDonald: The co-main event of the evening is a title fight in the welterweight division, making this the fifth fight in the welterweight division tonight. I will start this with the contender, Rory MacDonald. MacDonald has a professional record of 18-2. MacDonald has won nine of his last 11 fights and is on a three fight win streak. He has won seven fights by knockout and six by submission with seven of these finishes being in the first round. Of his two losses one was to the current champion, Robbie Lawler. The other loss was back in 2010 to Carlos Condit. MacDonald also has a black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. His opponent is the Welterweight Champion, Robbie Lawler. Lawler has a record of 25-10. 19 of Lawler’s 25 victories were by knockout. Lawler also has more losses than any other champion in UFC history. This fight is going to be an absolute slugfest. I think the only way this fight goes any differently from their last fight is if Rory is able to work his Jiu-Jitsu. I am going to call this fight another win by decision in favor of Robbie Lawler.
(#1)Chad Mendes vs. (#3)Conor McGregor: The main event of the card is a fight for the Interim Featherweight Title. This fight was originally supposed to be Conor McGregor versus the Featherweight Champion, Jose Aldo. Jose Aldo had to back out of the fight due to a rib injury suffered during practice. (For more on that story go to the article below.) Both Mendes and McGregor have a professional record of 17-2. Mendes was an amazing collegiate wrestler with many awards and a perfect takedown defense in MMA. Mendes has won six of his last seven fights. Mendes has also finished nine of his opponents, seven by knockout and two by submission. Conor McGregor also has a perfect takedown defense. McGregor is on a 13 fight win streak and is undefeated in the UFC. McGregor has 15 wins by knockout and one win by submission and 12 of his finishes were in the first round. McGregor has a brown belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. There was a huge amount of trash talk between Aldo and McGregor leading up to this fight and when Mendes filled in for Aldo, McGregor continued to send shots to his new opponent. I predict this fight will be another slugfest because both fighters will be looking to hurt each other. I predict that Conor McGregor will pick up the TKO victory in the second round and become the Interim Featherweight Champion.
Cody Garbrandt (6-0) vs. Henry Briones (19-4-1): This prelim opener is a really interesting fun fight for the fans, at least it should be, in the Bantamweight division. The opener has a young 24 year old UFC bantamweight prospect in the UFC who everyone should be beyond excited about, in Cody Garbrandt. This kid is really well-rounded with great cardio with the ability to keep a fight where he wants it to stay. Cody is only in his second UFC bout coming into this fight. The one big worry for Garbandt going into this fight is that he has never gone a full 15 minutes. He has won all 6 of his professional fights by way of KO and 4 of those have been in the very first round. His first fight though in the UFC did go 3 rounds which is where he found the KO in the third round showing he wasn’t very gassed regardless of not going that far before that fight. Cody has great striking and footwork to keep himself moving and hard to hit while he lands accurately often and should be someone to fear for Henry. He is a great wrestler and knows how to fight BJJ and will be a dangerous guy to take to the ground. In the opposite corner from Garbrandt is Henry Briones a veteran in the MMA world at 34 years old. Regardless of fighting 18 more times than Cody and being the elder fighter by 10 years he is also fighting only his second UFC fight. He has finished 15 of his 19 wins and 11 of those are finished in the first round. He is a well-rounded fighter finishing 10 fights by KO and 5 by way of submission, one of them being his first win in the first fight in the UFC. He enters this fight on an 8 fight unbeaten streak going 7-0-1 as of late 1-0 in the UFC. He is an extremely dangerous fighter due to his incredibly strong hands and incredible ground and pound. Henry has the ability to finish this fight standing and by way of ground I actually think he is the better fighter on the mat over Cody and that he could use that as his major advantage. I am going to be on the edge of my seat for this one and I think I will see it end with Cody moving to 7-0 and 2-0 in the UFC when he lands a second round KO.
Cathal Pendred (17-3-1) vs. John Howard (22-11): Oh heck yes a fight I know me and mike are thrilled for. I am a huge John Howard fan and he is a Cathal fan so this could be fun to watch together. Anyway this fight in the welterweight division should be a good one. I am going to start with Cathal he is a monster I can’t lie and is 4-0 in the UFC and this fight should be right up his alley. The one thing I really hate about Cathal is his inability to finish fights, he has only 7 finishes of his 17 and that tends to lead for a boring fight if he plays for the scorecard. His 7 stoppages show his ability to become a fan favorite with 6 of them being knockouts and one by submission. He is only 27 years of age and still can show more upside and start delivering more with a finish, though 3 of his 4 wins in the UFC are by way of decision. He is the definition of well-rounded and has so many skills I just really hope he can learn to put them all together because I think he can truly become a title contender quick and move into the rankings if he wins this fight. Cathal is a good fighter standing and on the mat and the advantage to being good on the mat is that his 80% takedown defense means most the time they go to ground he is in top position since he isn’t taken down often. Now in the other corner is the man known as “doomsday” John Howard who I think brings the ability to be as exciting as they get in the welterweight division. Now John has struggled in the UFC and it’s a shame to see going 6-6 since being in the UFC which he has been in and out of. Outside the UFC he has gone 6-1 with 5 KO’s showing he has the potential to be special. He has finished 15 of his professional wins with 9 submissions and 6 KO’s, having 7 of his fights go the full distance. John is a great fighter on the mat but standing-up his boxing skills are great and he needs to learn how to settle in and use his footwork and keep himself from getting caught by Cathal. This fight really could be fun is John Howard comes out in his best form but if he is off at all Cathal will eat him alive and brutalize him. I think Howard will come out strong but I honestly sadly for me believe Cathal will figure out how to beat John. I think this will go into the second round with a KO from Cathal ending this fight and potentially John’s UFC career.
Mike “Quick” Swick (15-5) vs. Alex Garcia (12-2): In the words of Samuel L Jackson, “Hold on to your butts” this is going to be a great fight in the Welterweight division. Mike is a true veteran of the octagon who has struggled as of late losing 3 of his last 5 fights. He has 11 stoppage wins, 8 by KO and 3 by submission he truly has an incredible ability to finish the fight wherever the fight goes. Mike is returning to the Octagon on a stacked fight card and he is truly missed by us UFC fanatics though he is 36 years of age we all still love him and want to see him continue to fight. He hasn’t fought since 2012 where he lost to the “immortal” Matt Brown. Mike’s fight style is incredibly hard to fight because he has phenomenal speed and to go with his speed is his incredibly aggressive fight style which means he is always ready to stop his opponent. Heck his first 4 UFC fights were won in a combined 5 minutes 10 seconds, just show casing his aggressive fight style. Now opposite of Mike Swick is going to be Alex Garcia who will bring a true challenge to Mike. He is only 27 years of age so 9 years the younger with only 3 UFC bouts under his belt. This kid is a finishing machine finishing 10 of his professional fights 5 by KO, and 5 by submission showing off his ability to fight in any position. Alex should be safe no matter where this fight winds up and he will just need to make sure he doesn’t get caught by Mike. One of his loses came to Neil Magny, actually being his most recent fight, Magny is a top level fight I believe and will one day be a title contender so it isn’t anything to worry about. He has finished 9 of those 10 by the way in the first round which shows his aggressiveness and could make for a very interesting clash between Swick and Garcia since they both love to come out strong. The call for this fight is really close due to the ability for both fighters to be able to take it to fight anywhere and do it very well. I am going to pick against my heart and go with my gut instinct and take Alex Garcia to continue his raise through the division by catching Swick in the first round with a KO.
# 5 Matt Brown (21-13) vs. Tim Means (24-6-1): The main event of the prelims is a showdown in the Welterweight division between a top ranked Matt Brown and a man on the raise Tim Means. Matt Brown’s last two fights have been loses following 7 straight victories prior to that. Those loses were to the former champ in Johnny Hendricks and the current champion Robbie Lawler. Matt is looking to turn it around fast and get back into title contention here with this fight. This kid will never back down and will keep coming at his opponent leading with his phenomenal striking game. Matt Brown is able to go all 3 rounds if need be and look like it was still the first minute. This type of conditioning is a huge advantage for any UFC fighter and could be his biggest asset entering this one. Matt has finished 19 of his 21 victories 13 by KO and the other 6 are by submission. The one thing people notice immediately about Matt Brown is that he is an incredibly intense fighter that never seems to take anything lightly. Now standing opposite of Brown is Tim Means. Tim has a cardio almost equal to Matt’s which means neither fighter can bank on wearing down his opponent and just trying to score points not that either fighter ever does that. Tim is just as lethal a finisher as Matt is finishing 20 of his 24 wins, 16 by KO and the other 4 by submission. Tim is entering this crucial fight on a 4 fight win streak winning 15 of his last 18 to go with that. Honestly I think a win here could drop Matt to 10th and put Tim right up there in the top 12 in his division. I can honestly tell you it confuses me how Tim isn’t already ranked but this fight can prove why he should be. This guy has great footwork and ability to control fights and with that shows off his great technique and if he is on his game is one of the toughest to handle. I am going to make my pick based off of who I think is currently the better fighter and based off of what I saw last fight I can say I will go with the underdog Tim Means. I think Tim will come out strong a pick up a first round TKO.
UFC 189 Main Card
# 15 Brad Pickett (25-10) vs. #14 Thomas Almeida (19-0): To kick off the main card we have a great fight in the flyweight division between a veteran and an upcoming superstar. I am going to start with Brad who is a 36 year old veteran struggling as of late losing 3 of his last 5 fights. Brad is a finishing machine and a fan favorite due to his exciting fight style and his ability to keep the terrible judges out of the decisions often. He has finished 18 of his wins 8 by KO and the other 10 by submission which showcases his incredible ability to be a very well-rounded fighter. He has great boxing skills which obviously displays his ability to land some good shots and deliver a KO or even put his opponent on their rear ends. Now standing opposite of the veteran Brad Pickett is Thomas Almeida who I think is the future of this division. Almedia is 19-0 and only 23 years of age. Let me say this I think Almeida is the next Jon Jones in other words I think he could become the most dominant fighter in the UFC. The most impressive factor to me about Almeida is that he has finished 18 of his 19 wins 14 by way of KO the other 4 by submission. Even more incredibly he has finished 14 of those 18 wins in the first round. Thomas is in my opinion the bets flyweight fighter and he will continue to put his game together more and more. As he continues to grow and develop in one of the most stacked divisions in the UFC we could see something amazing. Thomas’ only non-finish was his very first fight in the UFC so it might have been part of the UFC gitters. Now sadly for Brad Pickett he has been struggling as of late in the UFC and it’s been a shame to see because I don’t see it getting any better here with this one. I am going to take a dominant victory for Thomas Almedia the featherweight future himself to win this one in a first round KO of Brad Pickett.
#15 Gunnar Nelson (13-1-1) vs. Brandon Thatch (11-2): As we move on through the main card we will get a showdown in the welterweight division between two good uprising fighters that are really starting to put it all together. Gunnar Nelson is coming into this fight off his first ever professional loss in a 5 round brawl with Rick Story. Gunnar is a 26 year old fighter on the raise and could be a title contender soon enough. He has finished all of his fights but one, those 12 finishes are done through 8 submission and the other 4 by KO. The man is a take is a takedown machine and should get his submission if he gets it to the ground because he will be looking for it. Now on the opposite side of Nelson is Brandon Thatch who is coming into this fight with a loss as well after being submitted in 4 rounds by Benson Henderson. Thatch is a very good striker who knows when to throw and when to defend. He has finished all 11 of his fights and they were all in the very first round, yes ALL 11. Thatch is an explosive fighter that once he sees his opening he will capitalize on it quickly. This fight could go to the ground and it wouldn’t make a big difference because Thatch is a good fighter standing and on the mat, having 8 wins by KO and 3 more by submission. This fight has the potential to be very exciting and this is one of the more difficult fights to call. I am going to take the “underdog” and do so by saying he will get a first round KO in under 2 minutes.
#8 Dennis Bermudez (15-4) vs. #11 Jeremy Stephens (23-11): This will be one hell of a showdown between two top ranked featherweights in the UFC. Dennis comes into this fight off of a loss in a round one submission to Ricardo “the bully” Lamas. Dennis is looking to get back on track to becoming the title contender that we all know he can be. Dennis is one of the tougher fighters to take to the mat which gives him the advantage of keeping the fight where he wants it posting a 92% takedown defense. Dennis has finished a little above 50% of his fights finishing 8 of his 15 split evenly 4 by submission and 4 by KO. His one loss though isn’t something to pay too much attention to he has won the previous 7 fights. Dennis will be able to go all 3 rounds if needed due to his incredible cardio and will be something to keep in mind if the fight gets through the first and second rounds. Now Dennis will look to take Stephens to the mat because once he is on the ground he can put on his display of great submission ability. His best feature on the mat though, is his extremely talented ground and pound. Now standing opposite of Bermudez is the slight underdog in Jeremy Stephens. Jeremy is a great fan fighter because he lives by the never say die attitude to a key. Jeremy is coming off of two consecutive losses where he lost both in decision. He has finished 18 of his 23 victories and tends to do so with his incredible heavy hands which go on display with his 16 KO victories. Jeremy will need to keep this fight standing though to stand a chance because if he does he could land a KO with one good quick combo due to the amazing strength in his hands. This fight should be fun no matter what just because of the incredible heart in both fighters and the amazing display these guys will have the capability to put on for all of us. I am going to take the favorite though and pick Bermudez to win this one in the third round by a submission and get his name back up in title contention.
(C) Robbie Lawler (25-10-0, 1NC) vs # 2 Rory MacDonald (18-2): Here is the co-main and Oh MY GOD it’s finally here. Lawler vs Macdonald for the welterweight title. This is the first time in a long time I can remember seeing the current champ as the underdog too which makes this even more interesting considering Lawler has beaten MacDonald. I am going to start with the challenger on this one so Rory MacDonald. Rory is a young freak and I mean that nicely. He is 25 years of age and win or lose this fight I truly believe he is one of the 3 fighters in this division along with Lawler and Woodley. Rory is extremely well-rounded having a great stand-up and a great submission game. Rory tends to control his opponents game by using his ability to avoid being taken down with his incredibly gifted 89% takedown defense. He has finished 13 of his 18 professional fights and done so pretty evenly with 7 wins by KO and 6 others by submission. He has stopped 7 of his opponents in the first round and can be considered so dangerous early in a fight. He enters this fight winning 7 of his last 8 fights and 3 of those in a row. His last loss though 4 fights ago was a split decision to his current opponent Robbie Lawler. Rory has matured beating Maia, Woodley, and Saffedine on his way to the title fight here. Now standing opposite of the lethal Rory is the “ruthless” Robbie Lawler. Robbie in my opinion dominated Hendricks because as normal he was a victim of Henrdricks let me grab you and hide game. Robbie overcame that and out preformed Johnny to take the title. This is Lawler’s first title defense and it will be one of his toughest tests. Lawler is an amazing standup fighter due to his incredibly good striking skills. He is along with Woodley probably the most powerful fighter in this division as he looks like a walking Panzer tank. I personally love who Robbie is as a fighter and his personality matches his gritty fight style which makes it more perfect almost like poetry. Robbie for having such strong hands has incredibly fast hands which is a rare combination as well as an extremely lethal one. I am beyond excited to see what these two fighters do to make this fight theirs. This fight is very close and really depends where it goes. If this fight winds up on the mat it would probably favor Rory completely. If this fight stays standing it could favor Lawler but I wouldn’t count out Rory at all. I am going to take the Challenger even though I will be sad to see Lawler lose the title I just think that Rory is the more complete fighter and is getting close to putting it all together. I think Rory will win this in the 4th round by landing a guillotine choke to take the title.
#3 Connor McGregor (17-2) vs #1 Chad Mendes (17-2): The main event is even better than it originally was in my opinion but anyway here we go for the featherweight title. McGregor is the most hyped up name in UFC history probably and I truly believe it’s been well deserved. I think Connor is the most exciting fighter in the UFC and one of the most in UFC history. He is a very well-rounded fighter and his “cockiness” is not unjustified. Everyone says oh this kid is way too confident and needs to learn to shut his mouth but why? He is on a 13 fight win streak and won all 5 since joining the UFC. Four of those five wins in the UFC are KO victories the one fight that was a decision is against Max Holloway. Connor has finished 16 of his 17 professional wins with 12 of those being in the first round. Connor is a knockout artist having 15 career KO’s. Connor is seen as an average or below average fighter on the mat but I believe that is a dumb thought because he has a 100% takedown defense so we never see him on the mat. I truly think he is the best fighter currently left in the UFC with Jones out and I am so excited to see what he does with this interim title shot. Now standing opposite of McGregor is Chad Mendes. Chad is a great fill in option for Aldo because he is the number one ranked fighter in their division and 15th in the pound for pound list. Chad also has a 100% takedown defense and boy oh boy that makes this fight really interesting considering Medes’ wrestling and McGregor being so hard to take down. Chad trains with team Alpha Male where they train you, just like the Blackzillians, hug your opponent and score points. Mendes has won 6 of his last 7 his lone loss coming to Jose Aldo. His only other loss was to Aldo as well both of them for the championship. Now that being said Chad is an incredible fighter with great speed to compliment his wrestling. Now to compliment Chad’s great speed is his beyond incredible power his hands when he throws them are extremely lethal. Now for the pick I think Chad uses his holding and wrestling too much to actually win this fight. I am going to take McGregor in the second round by way of KO after figuring out how to handle Mendes. I think this fight is going to be exciting but McGregor is going to just rock it and hold the interim title until he takes the actual title from Aldo.