Photo: John Locher-Associated Press
Photo: John Locher-Associated Press

Man, oh man! UFC 189 not only lived up to the hype, it surpassed it. Start to finish, this card fired on all cylinders, showcasing exactly why this sport is so exciting and quickly growing. It was a night filled with stoppages and action from start to finish. Now that the dust has settled, let’s review the event and which fighters stock has grown.

Thomas Almeida defeats Brad Pickett (KO/TKO 2nd 4:35)

Brad Pickett started the fight looking good. He lit up the young Thomas Almeida,  cutting him open with a heavy elbow around 3:30 into the first round. The young Almeida collected himself and, rather than panic, he went on the offensive. As the first round progressed he began tagging Pickett, and Almeida made up for his weak start by finishing the first round strong. When the second round started, and before UFC-vet Pickett could start up his jab, he gets floored by a magnificent flying knee. Almeida landed his knee perfectly–cracking Pickett square in the jaw and put him to sleep. With this victory, Almeida secures the biggest win of his career in spectacular fashion, launching his stock as an up-and-coming threat. Pickett’s stock holds steady; he did great in the first round but got caught in the second, and now the vet finds himself in gatekeeper territory.

Gunnar Nelson defeats Brandon Thatch (Sub 1st 2:05)

I had Thatch taking the advantage in the stand up exchange, but Gunnar Nelson came in with smooth hands. He came in early and blasted Thatch with a one-two combo that dropped him. Once the fight got to the mat, Nelson was at his most comfortable and dangerous, and he began advancing his position at a deliberate pace. It was obvious that Nelson just outmatched Thatch on the ground when he quickly got his back and secured a tight body triangle. At this point, it was only a matter of time until Nelson secured a submission. With plenty of time on the clock, Nelson locked in a rear naked choke and forced Thatch to tap out. Nelson moves up the Welterweight ladder with the victory, and is a threat with his hands as well as his world-class jiu-jitsu. Thatch’s stock on the other hand takes a hit with the loss. He was expected to dominate the stand up aspect of the fight and got caught by a rudimentary one-two combo. If he loses another fight, Thatch might be in trouble of being cut from the UFC.

Jeremy Stephens defeats Dennis Bermudez (KO/TKO 3rd 4:27)

This fight delivered back and forth action and ended dramatically. As the first round opened up, Bermudez jumped on Stephens and cut him early while completely dominating the first round. Blood covered the ring as the fighters got to their respective corners. Stephens came into the second round determined to even the fight and did so decisively, landing some heavy leg kicks that damaged Bermudez’ leg and displayed some heavy hands. The second round ended with one round going to each fighter. This is when Stephens lands a flying knee early into the third round. As Bermudez fired a jab to disguise his takedown entry, Stephens jumped straight up and delivered a knee that put Bermudez to sleep. Stephens’ stock is soaring after this spectacular performance as he weathered an early storm and finished his opponent off with a highlight-reel knockout. Despite losing, Bermudez’ stock is stable because he put on a great fight and delivered a solid performance.

Robbie Lawler defeats Rory MacDonald  (KO / TKO 5th 4:08) 

Photo: John Locher-Associated Press
Photo: John Locher-Associated Press

In a fight for the ages, Robbie Lawler defended his title against Rory MacDonald. This fight can go down as Fight of the Year, as it went back and forth with both fighters taking heavy damage. Not only was it the best fight of the night, it was by far the bloodiest. The fight started off cautiously as both fighters tried to establish their timing and didn’t want to risk getting caught early. Quick combos were shot off, but things picked up in the second round when Lawler busted MacDonald open–breaking his nose–with a steady dose of a left jab followed by a straight right. Lawler picked up the third round where he left off in the second, continuing to damage MacDonald for two-thirds of the round. Then MacDonald landed a huge head kick that rocked Lawler. The champion spent the rest of the round in survival mode as MacDonald fired off elbows and punches in an attempt to finish off the champ.

Heading into the championship rounds, both fighters were bloody, but this fight had just begun. MacDonald started with a flurry and Lawler looked dazed. But you can never count out the champ, who continued to try to mount an offensive attack as his legs struggled to stabilize. MacDonald continued to land head kicks and landed an elbow that brutally split Lawler’s lip open, and the round ended with Lawler staring down MacDonald in the middle of the octagon. Both fighters are bloody at this point, and with visible damage to each of their faces. With both fighters bloody, broken and bruised, the fifth and final round started up. Lawler landed a stiff straight that hit flush on Rory’s nose. The challenger quickly touched his shattered nose and fell to the mat; turtled up in pain. Lawler yelled in celebration, all while ignoring his split lip as he has kept the gold championship belt around his waist. After this spectacular fight, neither fighter suffers a dip in stock, but Lawler’s is on the rise once again. His performance last night could top his battle with Johnny Hendricks that won Fight of the Year. Both fighters  let their actions speak for them and, after tonight, everyone is listening.

Conor McGregor defeats Chad Mendes (KO / TKO 2nd 0:03)

After months of hype for the Aldo fight, McGregor did the best he could in two weeks to build anticipation for his bout against Mendes. McGregor said he didn’t care who they put across from him in the cage, and that they’re just another bump in the road. Mendes proved to be a formidable bump, like many anticipated. McGregor came into the fight with all the cockiness and swagger that fans expected and he taunted Mendes while keeping his hands flowing. Mendes didn’t let McGregor’s taunting get to him and stuck to his game plan. He engaged McGregor on his feet only when necessary, even cutting the right side of McGregor’s eye. Mendes took down McGregor three times in the first round and was able to take the round. This is what many wanted to see–McGregor being tested by a wrestler. Luckily for McGregor, each round starts with fighters on their feet.



The beginning of the second round is all about McGregor landing kicks and punches, as he appeared tired of being lit up, but Mendes quickly takes the fight to the mat. On the floor, McGregor landed heavy elbows that Mendes felt were illegal, even though referee Herb Dean can be heard telling both fighters the elbows are fair play. Eventually, McGregor works his way back up to his feet and starts in on Mendes. He just let’s his hands go. Both fighters are visibly tired, but McGregor senses his opponent’s weakness and goes all in for the finish. He lands some heavy-handed punches and drops Mendes. Referee Herb Dean jumped between McGregor and Mendes after McGregor’s barrage of fists, calling the fight with seconds left in the round. Not only can McGregor talk the talk, but he proves to any naysayers that he can walk the walk. His stock is soaring, and quite possibly higher than any other fighter. This fight boosted the anticipation for McGregor’s eventual throw down with Jose Aldo to unify the Featherweight belts.

The biggest winner of the night is the fans. If you were unlucky enough to have missed the event, find a way to watch! This can go down as arguably the best UFC event ever. The card was filled to the brim with action, and showcased exactly why the UFC is an exciting and growing brand. The UFC has three more events lined up over the next six days, but those three combined are going to have a hard time matching the quality of action on last night’s UFC 189 card.

What are your thoughts on the UFC 189 bouts last night? Did McGregor get lucky or is he the real deal? Leave us your thoughts in the comments section below.

Michael Gomez covers MMA and the UFC for MFST, and you can follow him on Twitter @MichaelGom3. GomezAnalysisMMARecent PostsBrad Pickett,Brandon Thatch,Chad Mendes,connor McGregor,Dana White,Dennis Bermudez,FOTY,Gunnar Nelson,Jeremy Stephens,MMA,Robbie Lawler,Rory MacDonald,Thomas Almeida,Title fight,UFC,UFC 189Man, oh man! UFC 189 not only lived up to the hype, it surpassed it. Start to finish, this card fired on all cylinders, showcasing exactly why this sport is so exciting and quickly growing. It was a night filled with stoppages and action from start to finish. Now...