Sadly we won’t be getting the Conor McGregor vs. Jose Aldo (broken rib) fight that had been hyped up and advertised for the past six months, but UFC 189 is still stacked to the brim with great fights and two titles on the line. Here’s a quick preview of the event’s main card.

Brad Pickett vs. Thomas Almeida (Bantamweight)

Photo: Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports
Photo: Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports

The grappling veteran Pickett opens up with the favorable odds against Almeida, who is about to face a step-up in competition. Almeida is young but has great stand up, working behind a fluid jab and low kicks, he has finished all but one of his UFC fights. Look for Pickett to take advantage of Almeida’s unproven take down defense and shoot in and try to get Almeida on the mat, where the veteran has an advantage. If I was a betting man, Almeida would be a smart bet. Despite being the underdog, many see him as a favorite to finish the 36-year-old Pickett in the second round, using his attack speed and volume to outmatch the aging vet. We can also see Pickett capitalize on Almeida’s inexperience and grind out a decision victory.

Gunnar Nelson vs. Brandon Thatch (Welterweight) 

Photo: Esther Lin-MMA Fighting
Photo: Esther Lin-MMA Fighting

A battle of two up-and-coming 170 pounders. This match is oozing with potential; pitting the Icelandic grappler, Gunnar Nelson, against the striking machine, Brandon Thatch. Thatch has dismantled his past opponents with a barrage of strikes, clinch moves and great ground and pound, but his skills while on his back may be put to the test against Nelson, who combines a karate striking style with slick and dangerous Brazilian jiu-jitsu. If Nelson gets the fight to the ground, he will work at a deliberate pace and pass through Thatch’s guard and secure one of his many submissions–that’s if he gets the fight to the ground. Thatch is a bigger, faster and stronger fighter than Nelson, and he could keep the fight exactly where he wants it using his array of strikes. I expect Thatch to come in strong and finish the fight late in the first round.

Dennis Bermudez vs. Jeremy Stephens (Featherweight)

Photo: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
Photo: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Oh man, this fight has potential to steal the show. Expect this to be a war–with both fighters going at each other with straight flurries of offense–but Stephens will have the upper hand, as he is boasting a five-inch reach advantage and more skill in his striking. Both fighters have very similar skill sets–great stand up striking and great wrestling–which means if one fighter tries to take their opponent to the ground the other should be able to counter. Bermudez, however, has shown that he can be stopped by strikes, which does not bode well when put across from Stephens, who can knock out anyone in the division with his powerful striking. This fight can end at any point, early in the first or in the third round, but the winner is going to be Stephens by TKO. He does everything Bermudez can do, only better and harder.

Robbie Lawler (Champion) vs. Rory MacDonald (Welterweight)

Photo: Derek Leung-Getty Images
Photo: Derek Leung-Getty Images

Quiet possibly the quietest title fight in the history of sports, but don’t let the lack of hype fool you, Robbie Lawler’s title defense against Rory MacDonald has Fight of the Year potential. In their last meeting, Robbie Lawler got the best of Rory MacDonald in a close split decision victory. Just like their last fight, these two are pretty evenly matched, bringing a complete MMA arsenal to the table. Lawler has some of the heaviest hands in the division and matches it with great combinations and a variety of speed. When a fighter concentrates on avoiding his hands they will usually eat a left shin to the side or head. What makes Lawler even more dangerous is his amazing defensive wrestling, sprawling and stuffing most attempts. Lawler is willing to eat a shot if it means getting into the pocket and firing off a combo of his own, and his chin has stood a grand total of ten rounds against one-hit knock out machine, Johnny Hendricks.

MacDonald works best when he dictates the pace and range of the fight. He has great hands and will fire off piston like jabs to keep his opponents at bay, and he has great kicks and spectacular wrestling. If he gets Lawler down to the mat, the defending champion could have a very hard time getting back up, as MacDonald will rain down strikes from the top position.  MacDonald possesses great footwork but his lack of head movement and almost robotic forward momentum will be his downfall. Lawler will not allow MacDonald to set the pace and find his range, and he’ll get into the pocket and begin to punish the challenger. Lawler won’t knock out MacDonald, but the ref may have to step in to stop the competition. If it goes the distance, expect to see every aspect of MMA on full display, as these two fighters will use every weapon in their arsenal to secure the gold around their waist.

Chad Mendes vs. Conor McGregor (Featherweight)

Photo: Josh Hedges-Zuffa LLC
Photo: Josh Hedges-Zuffa LLC

Not the main event that was advertised, but with these two expect to be entertained. Originally slated to face featherweight champ Jose Aldo, Conor McGregor has talked up a storm and cultivated a swarm of fans en route to UFC 189. Sadly, the champ had to back out of the fight due to a broken rib, but McGregor expressed no disappointment, and began trash talking his new opponent Chad Mendes as soon as the UFC announced the replacement. Now the main event for UFC 189 will be for the interim Featherweight title, with a unification bout down the road against Jose Aldo to crown the undisputed king of the division. The biggest question about McGregor has been whether he can stand up to an elite wrestler, and Chad Mendes possesses one of, if not, the best wrestling repertoires in the division. Mendes also possesses some of the best hands in the UFC. Mendes’ combination of elite wrestling and incredible punching power have made him a top predator in the division, with his only losses coming at the hands of the champion. Despite this, I still see Conor McGregor having his hand raised at the end of the fight.

Conor McGregor has that “it factor;” he beams confidence, and that in and of itself is a weapon in the cage. He has an eight-inch reach advantage and a style of striking that can hit a fighter at any angle. McGregor will not only hit Mendes, but using his ridiculous power, Mendes will be put to sleep. McGregor has so much confidence that he reportedly told UFC President Dana White he’ll bet him $3 million he’ll finish Mendes in the first round. The combination of McGregor’s power, speed and reach will allow him to fire off any and all of his punches, kicks, knees and elbows en route to his interim title. I expect McGregor to put on a show and cement himself as the only contender to Aldo’s throne.

What are your picks for UFC 189? Leave your comments in the section below.

Michael Gomez covers MMA for MFST, and you can follow him on Twitter @MichaelGom3.

 

https://i0.wp.com/www.myfantasysportstalk.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/connor.jpg?fit=620%2C348&ssl=1https://i0.wp.com/www.myfantasysportstalk.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/connor.jpg?resize=150%2C150&ssl=1Michael GomezAnalysisCombat SportsMMARecent PostsBrad Pickett,Brandon Thatch,Chad Mendes,Conor McGregor,Dana White,Dennis Bermudez,Gunnar Nelson,Jeremy Stephens,MMA,Robbie Lawler,Rory MacDonald,Thomas Almeida,UFC 189Sadly we won't be getting the Conor McGregor vs. Jose Aldo (broken rib) fight that had been hyped up and advertised for the past six months, but UFC 189 is still stacked to the brim with great fights and two titles on the line. Here's a quick preview of...Why go anywhere else for sports and entertainment?