Sunday, July 12, 2015

UFC 189: Rise Of The Celtic Warrior

Who needs takedown defense when you are the most dynamic and hardest hitting striker in your featherweight division?  Not Conor McGregor, apparently.  Here is my take on the PPV which saw the crowning of the UFC's first Irish interim champion.

Almeida vs. Pickett: The first round was a draw, with Pickett dropping Almeida twice with right hands and Almeida almost catching Pickett with a heel hook.  He also dropped Pickett with a right of his own.  However, an explosive flying knee by Almeida in the second round put a quick end to Pickett and made this a "changing of the guard" match for the bantamweight division.

Winner: Almeida (KO)

Nelson vs. Thatch:  After a left hook-right hook combo, Nelson put on a "BJJ 101" class for the fans.  Side control.  Transition to mount.  Take your opponent's back.  Get a body triangle.  Soften up your opponent with strikes before getting the rear naked choke and just wait for the tap.  The end.

Winner: Nelson (submission)

Bermudez vs. Stephens: The true fight of the night!  In spite of getting cut open and completely handled in Round 1, Stephens rallied in a back-and-forth brawl in Round 2 where he hit Bermudez so hard with a left that Dennis "The Menace" actually spun around like a top!  That being said, Bermudez was still winning the fight in Round 3 when, out of nowhere, Stephens dropped him with a flying knee when his own back was against the cage and swarmed him on the ground to finish the fight.

Winner: Stephens (TKO)

MacDonald vs. Lawler: Lawler's straight left in Round 5, which caused MacDonald to put his hands on his head and fold backward into a fetal position in the first slomo knockout I've ever seen, was exciting.  The rest of the fight was a total snoozefest, with about a minute and 15 seconds of action and almost twenty minutes of them playing octagon pattycake.  "Fight of the Night" this was not...

Winner (and still UFC welterweight champion): Lawler (KO)

Mendes vs. McGregor: In spite of absorbing a spinning back kick to the body which seemed to knock the wind out of him, Mendes dominated the fight at first, taking McGregor down 4 times in two rounds and smothering him a la Silva-Sonnen I.  Then he went for a guillotine and gave McGregor just barely enough space to escape and pop back to his fight.  A one-two combo was all it took for McGregor to knock Mendes out become the interim UFC featherweight champion.

"I was going to prove to the people that I was the true fighter." McGregor said afterwards, acknowledging that he was protected from guys like Mendes on his path to a title shot.

Indeed, the Celtic Warrior has proven that, and I believe that at this point, his fight with Aldo will just be a formality. 

Winner (and new UFC interim featherweight champion): Conor McGregor.     

Saturday, July 11, 2015

UFC 189: My Predictions

Even though Aldo had to pull out due to a fractured rib, this should still be a pretty good PPV.  Here are my predictions for each match:

Pickett vs. Almeida:  I love the British, so I will be rooting for Pickett.  Unfortunately, Pickett is 36 years old, and fighters of that age tend to become shark meat for younger, hungrier fighters like Almeida.  I see Almeida giving this veteran his first KO loss in the UFC.

Winner: Thomas Almeida

Nelson vs. Thatch: After Thatch got finished by Benson Henderson (who's a lightweight, by the way), I am very comfortable picking Nelson for this one.  I see a submission by Nelson in Round 2 at the latest.

Winner: Gunnar Nelson

Bermudez vs. Stephens: This is a no-brainer.  Dennis "The Menace" was the first man to ever finish Clay Guida in the octagon and was on a 7-fight tear before experiencing his first setback against the monster known as Ricardo Lamas.  Bermudez will crush Stephens via submission late in Round 1.

Winner: Dennis Bermudez.

Lawler vs. MacDonald II: I personally believe this will be the fight of the night, and whoever wins depends on MacDonald's strategy.  If MacDonald plays it too safe, Lawler will storm him out of the gate and pull another upset like he did in their last fight.  However, if MacDonald combines his technical finesse with the "Canadian Psycho" tenacity that he used to squish Che Mills, then I see him dominating Lawler for five rounds en route to finally becoming the king of the welterweight division.  Personally, I think the latter will happen and that "Red King" will finally rule in place of his mentor, Georges St-Pierre.

Winner: Rory MacDonald

Mendes vs. McGregor: I am a huge McGregor fan.  He is basically an Irish ninja version of Muhammad Ali.  That being said, although his striking is off the charts, his takedown defense is suspect.  Dennis Siver was able to put him on his back with relative ease, although he had no idea what to do with McGregor once that happened (hence the thrashing that the German striker received afterwards).  Mendes won't have that problem, so I see "Money" grinding out a five-round decision en route to becoming the interim featherweight champion.

Winner: Chad Mendes.