UFC 189 Preview

ufc_189It has been one of the most built up fights in the history of the UFC as Conor McGregor was set to take on Jose Aldo for the featherweight title.

Among all of the build-up for the main even at UFC 189 though, one fight has taken a back seat, a position that both fighters are not used to in their time in the UFC.

The co-main event of the night will be the first title fight of the night as Robbie Lawlor and Rory MacDonald face-off looking to continue the run of great title fights in the welterweight division.

For MacDonald though this fight means plenty more than just a title as it is a chance to finally get a title shot, to avenge one of his only two losses in his MMA career, and to bring the welterweight belt back to a home that it has known for years.

MacDonald is a member of the Tri-Star gym in Montreal, the same gym that was home to the greatest welterweight champion ever, Georges St. Pierre.

They have been training partners for years now and MacDonald’s career really only took off after he left British Columbia and moved east to Quebec to train with Faras Zahabi and the Tri-Star group.

St. Pierre held the title as a member of Tri-Star for a total of 2,204 days, that’s just over 6 years as the champion, and now MacDonald looks to bring the same belt back to Tri-Star for another long period of time.

He will need to do so against one of only two fighters that he has ever lost to and that opponent only beat him by a split decision.

Robbie Lawler ended a five-fight win streak by MacDonald who was on his way to facing his teammate in St. Pierre for the title.

Instead Lawler took the extremely close match-up and sent MacDonald back to the drawing board where he retooled and once again rose through the rankings.

Since the loss to Lawler, MacDonald has won three straight fights and sits at an 18-2 professional record.

Usually that is enough to earn a title shot in the UFC but that wasn’t the case for MacDonald who was caught in the log-jam of a St. Pierre-less welterweight division.

After being promised the winner of the Lawler-Hendricks rematch the UFC originally scheduled a third fight between the two challengers and left MacDonald out of the conversation.

The promotion righted the wrong and MacDonald will get his title shot this weekend when he takes on Lawler for the welterweight title.

It is an interesting matchup with Lawler bringing huge power to the fight and MacDonald bringing a creative and varied striking style.

MacDonald also brings a great BJJ game that is not matched by Lawler but the challenge will be getting Lawler to the ground to use that BJJ game.

The welterweight title was never the main focus of UFC 189 though as the UFC had always looked at an exciting featherweight title match as their biggest draw.

The UFC has spent tons of money on intense ads building the fight and even put together a world tour that saw McGregor and Aldo hit all of the hot spots in the MMA world.

That tour brought the excitement to a new level as the trash talk flowed from the always loud McGregor and even the usual quiet and respectful Aldo.

The hype was huge and for good reason as one of the most exciting fighters in the UFC was about to challenge and possibly beat one of the greatest fighters in the UFC.

Then the nightmare scenario for the UFC happened as Aldo hurt a rib a week before the fight putting the fight in jeopardy.

Luckily for the UFC a doctor cleared Aldo for the fight and all seemed to be good to go for one of the biggest fights the UFC has ever seen.

Aldo thought otherwise though as he decided that the pain was going to be too much to fight at his highest level and he pulled out of the fight ending a fight that has been building since McGregor went into the stands to challenge Aldo after his last win.

The time spent advertising the biggest fight of the year was all wasted and if you listen to McGregor it is because Aldo was scared.mma-sidebar.fw

More likely it was because Aldo knew that he needed to be at his best to beat McGregor and going into a fight with a bruised rib was not going to bring the best Aldo to the fight.

Not necessarily fear but reason led to Aldo’s decision and for the UFC it was both a disaster and somewhat proof that they are not as bad as many think.

They did not force an injured fighter into a fight despite the fact that they are sure to lose plenty of money without Aldo.

The UFC also had a back-up plan for the fight as they immediately brought in Chad Mendes to fight for the interim title.

It is still an interesting match-up for the interim title as Mendes has only been getting better with every fight and was likely the next in line to fight the winner of Aldo-McGregor.

The wrestler has always been one of the best fighters on the mat but only recently has begun to find some very devastating stand-up knocking out three of his last five opponents.

McGregor, on the other hand, is a well-rounded fighter with good wrestling and extremely creative striking that has meant a quick night in all but one of his UFC fights.

The trash talk has naturally already started even with only a week-long build up and both fighters are looking to get the win.

Overall though it seems like McGregor is just too good to lose to Mendes who still doesn’t seem to have that extra talent that will bring him a title as he will fall to a second round knockout while McGregor likely calls out Aldo and another major fight begins to brew.

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