Two Titles, One Night (UFC 189 Review)

ufc_189There was no shortage of hype heading into the latest UFC pay-per-view event as the UFC decided to load up the card with great fights on International Fight Week.

Chief among those fights was the co-main and main events where two titles were on the line in two interesting divisions.

In the welterweight division the interest level comes still on the heels of the Georges St. Pierre semi-retirement.

Since GSP left the welterweight division to enter semi-retirement there has yet to be a fighter that has taken control.

Right after GSP left Johnny Hendricks and Robbie Lawler faced off to determine the next welterweight champion.

Hendricks took the fight but it was almost too close to call and so a rematch was made to give Hendricks a chance to truly prove that he belongs at the top of the division.

It turned out that he didn’t belong there and Lawler took the win in the rematch and took the belt.

That is where things got really interesting as the natural state of things in the UFC means that Lawler and Hendricks were supposed to fight in a trilogy to truly end the debate.

The problem was that the UFC had already promised a title fight to Rory MacDonald who had been waiting for years to get his shot after going through almost everyone in the division.

So MacDonald got the fight and with some added motivation as the champion was one of only two fighters that MacDonald has not beaten in his time in the UFC.

The rematch could have turned out a defending champion or another new champion but either way both fighters were coming out to get that gold.

The fighters themselves were somewhat similar except for the fact that MacDonald simply had more in his tool box.

Both could stand and trade but MacDonald had a great ground game while Lawler was never a fighter to take the fight to the ground, although he had great takedown defence.

The fight was slow at the start with both fighters not wanting to make that fatal mistake but that gave way in the third round.

In that third Lawler began putting up some major damage against MacDonald and bloodying him up.

MacDonald was not to be outdone though as he unleashed a massive head kick late in the third round that rocked Lawler and had him on wobbly legs.

MacDonald finished the round unleashing some big shots against Lawler but the champion was saved by the bell.

The fourth round saw MacDonald start as he finished the previous round as Lawler remained wobbly and MacDonald pounced.

Lawler stayed standing though and they headed into what looked to be the determining round in the fight.

Both landed some big shots but nearing the midway point Lawler landed a big shot to the broken nose of MacDonald who covered up and went to the ground letting Lawler finish the fight.ufc_189ii

MacDonald now goes back to the drawing board as he looks to improve from the loss and come back stronger as he is still a young fighter and has a long future ahead of him.

As for Lawler he defended the belt for the first time and earned a date with Hendricks to complete their trilogy in his next title defence.

With one title fight down the one fight that most had been waiting for took full focus even though it was without one key piece.

The featherweight division has had a dominant champion and wasn’t necessarily an interesting division.

That was until a Irishman named Conor McGregor entered the picture with plenty of hype even before he stepped into the UFC octagon.

McGregor proved that the hype was real only going to decision once in his five UFC fights and making sure everyone knew it.

He has been the loudest voice in the UFC since he entered the UFC in 2013 and eventually his focus turned to Jose Aldo, a champion that nobody thought could lose.

McGregor introduced doubt into the minds of many as it seemed like he was ready to take the belt and after winning five fights in a row he got his chance.

After plenty of talk and plenty of money the UFC was ready for one of the biggest fights they have ever seen.

That was until Aldo bruised a rib and despite being medically cleared decided to pull out of the title fight against McGregor only a few days before the fight.

The UFC found a replacement quickly though as Chad Mendes stepped in on short notice to fight McGregor for the interim title.

It was not the fight that the UFC had built up with a world tour that essentially encouraged the hate between the two fighters but McGregor wasted no time in making sure that animosity lingered.

Along with the subtle jabs at Aldo McGregor spent much of the week leading up to the fight trash talking Mendes and the American fired back every step of the way.

It may not have been the matchup they wanted but it remained a good fight between two great fighters.

Mendes is a wrestler who has improved his striking by leaps and bounds over the last few years that has made him a well-rounded fighter.

McGregor always had those skills though as he came into the UFC with striking that had rarely been seen at that weight class and a yet to be tested ground game.

The two fighters came out talking much like they had done the entire week leading up to the fight.

McGregor started the fight by landing some great body shots that clearly had Mendes hurt but did not prevent Mendes from trying to take the fight where he wanted.

mma-sidebar.fwAs he continued to take body damage Mendes eventually began looking for the takedown as the championship wrestler tried to fight where he was comfortable.

The strategy seemed to work great for Mendes in the first and even more so in the second round when McGregor spent most of the round on his back.

The ground game was clearly not up to par from McGregor as he continued to take big elbows on his back and made little attempt to get to the feet.

Mendes then looked for a submission and McGregor used that move to get to the feet where he began his superior striking again.

While standing he landed a big combo including a big left hook that sent Mendes to the mat and reversed the fortunes immediately.

Mendes took the loss in his second title fight and missed out on a chance to face Aldo in a rematch.

McGregor, on the other hand, took the interim title and now will likely have a fight against Aldo to unify the belt in the match that everyone wanted to see on this card.

The UFC put on a big show at UFC 189 as they ended International fight Week with a great card that ended with two great title fights in two great weight classes.

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