Much More To UFC 189 Than Aldo vs McGregor
UFC President Dana White and his creative team have done a phenomenal job in promoting the ever charismatic Conor McGregor (17-2, #3 featherweight) bout with featherweight champion and #1 pound-for-pound fighter in the UFC, Jose Aldo on the upcoming July 11 blockbuster fight card.
McGregor has been stealing the spotlight, continuously digging at Aldo, provoking him on social media, and even stealing Aldo’s belt at a press conference in Ireland.
With all of the Aldo and McGregor talk, many fans might forget that this card is stacked, and that there are many more relevant and intriguing fights and things to keep an eye out July 11. With the Aldo and McGregor fight obviously being the spotlight of the card, here are five other things you should also keep an eye out for at UFC 189:
5.) Gunnar Nelson faes Brandon Thatch in a welterweight showdown
Both Nelson and Thatch were undefeated in the UFC (Nelson was undefeated overall) until their last fights. Nelson (13-1-1) lost to Rick Story via split decision in a five round war, and Thatch was caught in a rear-naked choke against Benson Henderson late in the fourth round of their encounter.
Thatch (11-2) was at one point in the top 15 welterweight rankings, but dropped out with his loss, whilst Nelson dropped to #15, knocking Thatch out of the rankings. Both fighters know there is much at stake here. The welterweight division is very stacked, and another loss will surely knock either fighter off the rankings, and a win will either bring Thatch back in, or climb Nelson back up.
This fight is the best example of a pure grappler versus striker matchup. Nelson is the ground wizard in this match up, while Thatch will use his calculated striking and try to keep this fight standing and pick Nelson apart with his precision striking.
4.) Dennis Bermudez and Jeremy Stephens look to return to their winning ways
Dennis Bermudez and Jeremy Stephens have similar situations. Both fighters are ranked in the featherweight division (Bermudez at the eight spot, and Stephens at 11), and both fighters will look to rebound from losses in their previous fights.
Bermudez (14-4) entered the UFC with a debut loss back in 2011, and since then “The Menace” went on an impressive seven-fight winning streak. Bermudez’s win streak came to an abrupt end when Ricardo Lamas caught him in a guillotine choke in the first round at UFC 180.
Stephens (23-11) had a three-fight winning streak going for himself until he ran into recent back-to-back decision losses to Cub Swanson and Charles Oliveira. Stephens has fought a total 20 fights in the UFC, going an even 10-10. Another loss in this fight might put Stephens in danger of seeing his way out of the organization, so there may be a little more pressure on “Lil’ Heathen” to win this one.
3.) The return of Mike Swick
TUF season one cast member Mike Swick returns to action after a three-year break from competition inside the UFC octagon. The 36-year old Swick last stepped in the cage in December 2012, where he lost to Matt Brown via TKO at UFC on Fox 5.
Swick struggled in his last few fights, going 1-3 before taking a break, and now Swick (15-5) looks to turn things around against Alex Garcia. In the time Swick has opened AKA Thailand, fulfilling his dream of being the owner of a mixed martial arts academy.
“The Dominican Nightmare” Alex Garcia (12-2) will look to go back to his winning ways against Swick after losing to Neil Magny in a unanimous decision almost a year ago at UFC Fight Night: Henderson vs. Dos Anjos. Garcia is now 2-1 in the UFC and will have a true test in an experienced Mike Swick.
2.) Cody Garbrandt looks to become the next bantamweight threat
The 23-year old Cody Garbrandt is 6-0, with all six fights coming by way of TKO/KO. Garbrandt is one of the best strikers in the game, and has been training with Team Alpha Male, so his all around game is only going to become that much more dangerous. Garbrandt put on an excellent performance in his UFC debut back at UFC 182, when he defeated Marcus Brimage by strikes in the third round.
Garbrandt will be facing another up and coming star in Henry Briones. Briones (19-4-1) has not lost since 2011, and is on a eight fight unbeaten streak (7-0-1). Briones made a successful UFC debut when he submitted Guido Canetti at UFC 180. This fight could be a stand up war, as Briones has won eight fights by TKO/KO, to go along with his six submission wins too.
1.) Rory MacDonald finally gets his title shot against Robbie Lawler
Robbie Lawler shocked the world with his split decision victory over Johny Hendricks back in UFC 181. The win would avenge his previous loss to Hendricks, and Lawler would capture the UFC welterweight title becoming the first American Top Team champion in the UFC.
Lawler (25-10) will make his first title defense and it is against a well deserved opponent in Rory MacDonald. MacDonald (18-2) has been patiently waiting for the call to a title shot, defeating everyone in his path, except for Lawler, who snuck out a split decision win over MacDonald back in 2013 at UFC 167.
Since his loss to Lawler, MacDonald has won his last three fights, patiently waiting for this big fight. MacDonald and Lawler will be the co-main event of the evening and could arguably be the fight of the night when the dust settles.
UFC 189 has much to offer. The main event is obviously being hyped up to be one of the biggest fights of 2015. The co-main event can easily steal the show with a co-headlining welterweight title bout between Lawler and MacDonald. Newer UFC stars such as Garbrandt, will look to become the next big thing, while a pioneer in the TUF reality show in Mike Swick will look to return to his winning ways. This card has many interesting scenarios and match ups, and should be one to remember from start to finish.