UFC 189: Mendes vs McGregor – ‘Tested and Ready’

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UFC 189 is all said and done and we have one champion still holding his belt, a new Interim-champion crowned, and one hell of a Featherweight title fight to look forward to. The main card was fantastic, with all 5 fights ending inside the distance, four by knockout and one by submission. With the exception of the undercard headliner, the majority of the prelims were underwhelming at best- but that will mostly be swept under the rug in light of the ferocity that was the UFC 189 main card. Let’s take a look.

Notes from the Prelims…

  • After a confident start that saw Yosdenis Cedeno calling his own shots, Cody Pfister turned to his wrestling to take control of the fight. Strong 2nd and 3rd rounds won on basis of his top and back control time lead Pfister to a unanimous decision win evening his UFC record at 1-1. KOMMA: 1-0
  • On the feet the action was a back and forth affair, but once they hit the mat Louis Smolka took control of the action. Neil Seery managed to survive the full 15 minutes despite a number of close submissions, but the end result was a wide decision win for Smolka. KOMMA: 1-1
  • Both men landed their fair share of strikes throughout the fight, but Cody Garbrandt’s combinations appeared to be the difference as Henry Briones’s attempts to counter the boxer were simply not enough in the eyes of the judges. KOMMA: 2-1
  • In a fight that won’t be getting the call for a FOTN nomination any time soon, John Howard did just enough to take a split decision from Cathal Pendred– a fighter notorious for stealing bouts via questionable decision. Howard had success at range and flurried in close, earning the judges call over Pendred’s clinch heavy attack. KOMMA: 2-2
  • Continuing a streak of decisions, Alex Garcia used forward pressure and a takedown heavy attack to get the better of TUF 1 alumni Mike Swick. Despite entering the UFC with a reputation for finishing his opponents, Garcia has now gone the distance in 3 straight fights. KOMMA: 3-2
  • To cap off the preliminary portion of UFC 189, Matt Brown provided the first finish of the event submitting Tim Means late in the opening round. Means appeared to hurt Brown on a couple of occasions, but after a stiff elbow strikes by Brown he locked up a guillotine for the finish. The win ends a strong run for Means and serves to revitalize Brown’s hopes for a shot at the title. KOMMA: 4-2

Main Card

Still Undefeated

Brad Pickett got off to a fantastic start, hurting the undefeated Thomas Almeida with a perfectly timed knee. The Brit pushed the action, but got clipped himself and ended the round exchanging with the Brazilian. Early in Round 2, Almeida showcased his devastating striking landing a brutal flying knee that violently separated ‘One Punch’ from his consciousness and kept the rising prospect’s record unblemished. Almeida’s will no doubt make another push up the rankings and could possibly land himself a top 10 opponent next time out. The loss is a significant one for Pickett who was hoping the return to Bantamweight would reinvigorate his career. KOMMA: 5-2

From the Land of Ice

Gunnar Nelson rebounded from the first loss of his career in fantastic fashion, dropping the favoured Brandon Thatch with a well placed 1-2 and working his way to the eventual RNC finish. The win represents a crucial return to form for ‘Gunni’ who had lost a bit of his shine with his 5 round decision loss to Rick Story in Sweden. Conversely, Thatch has now lost 2 in a row, both by sub, magnifying what appears to be a significant grappling deficit that he will need to address if he plans to make a serious run against the division’s elite. KOMMA: 6-2

Just Couldn’t Weight

He might not have made weight, but Jeremy Stephens survived an early cut and scored a massive third round knockout of Dennis Bermudez. The fight was very much up in the air heading into the final round with Bermudez getting the better of round 1 and Stephens doing more damage in the middle frame. Early in the final round Bermudez pushed forward to set up a takedown, but Stephens elevated and delivered a crushing flying knee for the finish. After a 7 fight winning streak Bermudez has now lost back to back fights, both by finishes and will surely take a slide down the rankings. Stephens defied the odds makers and scored a significant win that maintains his relevance in the division, despite failing to make weight. KOMMA: 7-2

Blood and Gold

Robbie Lawler is still the UFC Welterweight champion and he has the battle scars to prove it. Both the Champion and title challenger Rory MacDonald spilled blood and took significant damage. Both fighters were on the cusp of victory, but it is the Champion that still has the belt. The bout got off to a bit of slow start, with both men feeling each other out. Lawler drew first blood, busting open the challenger and breaking his nose in round 2. In the third round, Rory returned fire landing a head kick and swarming his opponent to close out the round. The Canadian started strong in round 4 with an early barrage, but Lawler appeared to recover as the action progressed. The fight was ultimately not meant to go the distance as Lawler landed a hard shot to the already battered face of MacDonald and he could take no more, falling to the mat and ending the contest.

MacDonald showed a lot of heart, enduring the early damage before rallying to almost take hold of the championship belt. Unfortunately, he has now lost twice to the champion and despite the entertaining nature of the bout the final image of Rory tumbling to the mat does not bode well for a future title shot as long as Lawler still wears the gold.

Adding a title defense to his story of resurgence, Lawler continues to impress and is no doubt one of the most exciting champions in the organization. The former champion Johnny Hendricks appears to be next in line to face Lawler for a third time, but the prospect of Carlos Condit trading blows with the ‘Ruthless’ one is incredibly enticing. KOMMA: 7-3

Irish Gold

The big question heading into this bout revolved around the wrestling of Chad Mendes and how Conor McGregor would handle it. The wrestling was there for Mendes, unfortunately his gas tank was not. The combination of just 2 weeks prep time, an emotionally charged atmosphere, and a series of hard body shots left ‘Money’ at the mercy of the heavy handed Irishman. Mendes absorbed some big strikes early on and tested McGregor’s chin with his own, but he eventually turned to his wrestling. The Team Alpha Male member was able to plant his opponent on the mat and spent large durations of the bout in top position dealing out punishment. For the most part he remained in McGregor’s guard to do damage, but an ill-fated attempt to advance and look for a submission was his undoing. McGregor defended the guillotine attempt, returned to his feet and honed in on the exhausted Mendes as the time ticked down on the 2nd round. With just 3 second left in the round Mendes fell to the floor unable to endure anymore damage after a thunderous combination from the now Interim-Featherweight champion. At the conclusion of the bout, McGregor and Mendes exchanged pleasantries and showed great respected for each other, as did Frankie Edgar to the new champ.

Mendes’s efforts were admirable and the loss is a setback, but he will remain a constant at the top of the division and could easily earn himself a future shot at the title against either Aldo, McGregor or possibly Frankie Edgar when the time is right.

The build up to the originally scheduled UFC 189 headliner was large; the rebooked main event will be massive. Doubters will still point to the unkind conditions under which Mendes took the fight, but with Conor finishing the 2-time title challenger in under two rounds he makes an even stronger case to be the man to unseat the long reining champion. This fight will be promoted as the biggest in UFC history and it will be difficult for anyone to argue otherwise. KOMMA: 8-3

Final Thoughts…

The Ultimate Fighter 21 Finale which takes place just 24 hours after UFC 189 will have some big shoes to fill as this event could be up for card of the year. From a prediction standpoint I finished the night 8-3, including a 4-1 record on the main card. My decision to back Rory after initially picking Lawler was my sole mistake on the PPV, but overall it was a great start to a very busy July in the MMA world. On a side note, I won’t be recapping the next 3 events individually, instead I will put together a week in review following the conclusion of UFC Fight Night 72 next Saturday. Catch your breath, it is almost time to go again.

Parlay Header

 
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Parlay #1
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Selection 1: Cathal Pendred $1.90
Selection 2: Matt Brown $1.56 12379140591570510706dholler_ok_svg_med
Selection 3: Rory MacDonald $1.57
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Price: $4.66 x Bet: 8 units
Payout: 37.28 units
 
 
===================================================
Parlay #1
===================================================
Selection 1: Gunnar Nelson $2.65 12379140591570510706dholler_ok_svg_med
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Price: $2.65 x Bet: 4 units
Payout: 10.6 units
 
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Parlay #2
===================================================
Selection 1: Jeremy Stephens $2.85 12379140591570510706dholler_ok_svg_med
Selection 2: Conor McGregor $1.65 12379140591570510706dholler_ok_svg_med
Selection 3: Neil Seery $2.00
===================================================
Price: $9.41 x Bet: 4 units
Payout: 37.64 units
 
 
===================================================
Parlay #1
===================================================
Selection 1: Cody Pfister $2.77 12379140591570510706dholler_ok_svg_med
Selection 2: Brown/ Total Rounds Over 2.5 $1.87
Selection 3: Garbrandt/
Selection 4: Swick/
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Price: $19.26 x Bet: 3 units
Payout: 57.78 units
 
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Parlay #1
===================================================
Selection 1: Cathal Pendred $1.90
Selection 2: Gunnar Nelson $2.65 12379140591570510706dholler_ok_svg_med
Selection 3: Jeremy Stephens $2.85 12379140591570510706dholler_ok_svg_med
Selection 4: Brown/ Total Rounds Over 2.5 $1.87
Selection 5: Mendes/
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Price: $56.36 x Bet: 3 units
Payout: $169.08
 

Yodenis Cedeno $1.54 vs

Cedeno really hasn’t done a tonne to earn this spot as a favourite. His only win came via injury and he has been outclassed in his other 2 bouts. Pfister didn’t look great in his debut either, but I expect him to come out with a stronger performance with a UFC bout under his belt. This won’t be pretty, but the bigger, more aggressive, wrestling oriented fighter survives the early onslaught and use his wrestling to grind this one out. I would still like to see Pfister get a win in the UFC before making a big investment, so he most likely slips to the Bronze level parlay.

4 STARS

Neil Seery $2.00 vs

A second upset to the start the card for a second card in a row. Seery is only a slight dog here, but I don’t think people realize how good he has looked in the UFC. He held his own with Pickett in his debut and could have earned the win in a short notice fight. After that he picked up a pair of solid wins as the dog. Smolka has skills and most are banking on him having success on the mat, but can he get it there on his own? So far in the UFC that hasn’t been the case. He doesn’t use his reach well and struggles with more technically sound strikers, Seery is that. Seery’s age is concerning, but he makes the cut as part of a Silver level parlay.

4 STARS

Cody Garbrandt $1.17 vs

No bet here, but I will consider the total. Garbrandt has just a single UFC win and is still single digits in pro experience. Briones has some decent experience and is coming off the type of win here get was getting beat up and pulled off the comeback. Pass on the side, but look at the Prop section for a possible total bet.

4 STARS

Cathal Pendred $1.90 vs

A quick turnaround for Pendred taking the place of Thatch who moved up on the card. Howard is capable of scoring a knockout, but his record is 7-7 in decisions and 2-4 in his last 6 trips to the judges at the elite level. He also has a pair of fights that would have been decisions losses without last second knockouts saving the day. Pendred is a perfect 10-0 in decisions and carries an aggressive wrestling based attack that puts him in a position to win on the cards even if he doesn’t always deserve it. He does get tagged at times and Howard is always dangerous, but Howard also has long periods of inactivity that will cost him. The size and style of attack for Pendred gets the job done here. I like Pendred at this price to fit in as a Gold Level parlay member.

4 STARS

Mike Swick $4.45 vs

I have no interest in playing Garcia here even though I think he obliterates Swick here. I will look at the total but there are better options on this card for your investments.

4 STARS

 Matt Brown $1.56 vs

I was really considering Means here for the upset. He is a technically strong fighter with nasty finishing power. If he can tag Brown to the body we could easily see the ‘Immortal’ crumple to the mat. It has yet to cost him as he rallied back in both fights where he was significantly hurt, Means knows how to finish. What ultimately swayed me in favour of Brown was his pressure. He attacks, attacks, and attacks and makes it dirty. Means seems like the type that needs to set the pace and Brown won’t let that happen. Additionally, I give Brown the edge in the wrestling which is something he should look to implement. Come forward, attack in the clinch, change levels, and keep Means guessing. Brown grinds this one out in a pretty tough affair and I think he works in my Gold package despite my early lean.

4 STARS

Brad Pickett $7.74 vs

This is a clear ‘No Play’. Almeida has looked good and Pickett not so much, but the guys has 2 UFC wins and Pickett is a seasoned vets. These are GSP or Anderson is their prime time numbers. Almeida could very well destroy him but I can’t bet a side at this price. I will consider the total, but I may also lay off altogether.

4 STARS

Gunnar Nelson $2.65 vs

Now we get into the real ‘meat and potatoes’ of the main card. Thatch stepped up from the undercard to take this fight and immediately moved into the favourite status. This is a great bout, but the UFC has to be a little concerned that one of their developing prospects at WW is going to take a step back with 2nd straight loss. I understand why Thatch is the favourite. He is a big nasty striker with serious finishing ability. I went with Gunnar because he is the more well-rounded fighter and has the ability to neutralize Thatch’s striking. I think Gunnar will have success taking Thatch down as he comes forward and will either submit him or wear him out on route to a decision win. As the fight moves forward Thatch will become more and more concerned with being taken down and it will hurt his output. Nelson is coming off his first loss and I think that it will go a long way to motivating him to be better and potentially clean up some of his weak points. I am leaning towards a single belt on Gunnar, possibly in the Silver section.

4 STARS

Dennis Bermudez $1.51 v s

The public is currently favouring Bermudez heavily, 79% have picked him to get the win. I’m with the minority here. Bermudez has had a decent run, but when I was analyzing this fight I was having trouble seeing how he wins. I guess he could outwork Stephens and implement a speed/pace/wrestling based attack. Bermudez’s striking leaves him open to be cracked and even if he doesn’t get knocked out I see him backing down after getting hurt/ clipped several times.  Stephens has to avoid head hunting and needs to be diverse, but I really him here to get the better of Bermudez. He was getting cracked by Guida and if that happens in this fight he won’t survive. I think this works in the Silver pack, most likely a parlay leg.

4 STARS

Robbie Lawler $2.69 vs

He is both the champion and is 1-0 against his opponent, yet he is the underdog. Prior to Aldo pulling out, but after the injury was reported, we had 2 champions that were the underdogs. That is pretty crazy. Now we have Lawler who is still the dog despite the info we know coming into this fight. I was had Lawler written down to win this fight, until I re-watched his last bout. The success that Lawler had vs Rory was built on aggression. He came out aggressive vs Hendricks and it cost him in a 5 round fight, I think he will be aware of that vs Rory and fight accordingly. That plays into MacDonald’s hands. Rory needs to be more active, which I think he will be and his wrestling needs to be more effective (double leg, not single). Robbie could score the KO, which I will address in the Betting Scenario section, but I think Rory edges this one out over 5 rounds. It will be a close fight, but Robbie won’t land those fight changing strikes in the third like he did- Rory will put up a better defensive front. I am leaning towards a Gold parlay leg here to work with Pendred and Brown.

4 STARS

Chad Mendes $2.48 vs

Mendes hasn’t lost to anyone outside of the Jose Aldo. He fought Ricardo Lamas who went the distance with Aldo and was looking very strong and Mendes crushed him. McGregor has looked good, I would have liked to have seen the Poirier bout go a little longer just to see how he faired, but what can you do? If Mendes brings a wrestling centric attack he could grind him into oblivion, but the way he has turned towards his striking of late I don’t see that happening. Mendes look a little small next to Aldo and the distance seem to give him trouble at times. McGregor is bigger then Aldo, and much bigger than Mendes. Chad got cracked several times by Aldo and I see McGregor doing the same. He has big power and knows how to finish. I was a little surprised that Mendes was a dog here and might consider doubling him up with Lawler for a small parlay to fade my other plays. For Conor, because of the quality of his opponent he doesn’t make the cut in my top plays and most likely slips to the Silver leg.

1. Alex Garcia $1.26 12379140591570510706dholler_ok_svg_med

2. Thomas Almeida $1.14 12379140591570510706dholler_ok_svg_med

3. Cody Garbrandt $1.17 12379140591570510706dholler_ok_svg_med

4. Cathal Pendred $1.90

5. Matt Brown $1.56 12379140591570510706dholler_ok_svg_med

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6. Rory MacDonald $1.57

7. Neil Seery $2.00

8. Conor McGregor $1.65 12379140591570510706dholler_ok_svg_med

9. Jeremy Stephens $2.85 12379140591570510706dholler_ok_svg_med

10. Gunnar Nelson $2.65 12379140591570510706dholler_ok_svg_med

11. Cody Pfister $2.77 12379140591570510706dholler_ok_svg_med

 

1. Cathal Pendred $1.90 Stylistically he is a bad matchup for Howard. Howard has to knock him out to win.

2. Gunnar Nelson $2.65 12379140591570510706dholler_ok_svg_med– Look for him to improve after the first loss of his career. He exploits Thatch’s issues on the mat.

3. Neil Seery $2.00 – He continues to show improvement in his boxing and outworks an opponent that’s primary focus will be trying to take him down.

4. Jeremy Stephens $2.85 12379140591570510706dholler_ok_svg_med– Bermudez gets hit way too much, especially from the right side which is Stephen’s power strike. He won’t recover from taking a big shot in this one. If Stephen’s doesn’t knock him out he will keep him backing up.

5. Cody Pfister $2.77 12379140591570510706dholler_ok_svg_med– Cedeno has potential, but Pfister uses a determined wrestling game to wear him out and grind him down.

1. Chad Mendes $2.48 – Honestly he shouldn’t be the underdog based on what we know, or at least he shouldn’t be this big of a dog. I think a single bet would work or doubling him up with Lawler is also quite enticing.

2. Robbie Lawler $2.69 12379140591570510706dholler_ok_svg_med– This play is pretty similar to the one above. He should either be the favourite or the line should be much closer. The more I think about it I will advocate for a parlay of Mendes and Lawler as a backup to your main investments.

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bETTING SCENARIOS

Exclusive Bet Pack Content

Prop Bets

Yodenis Cedeno/

See Betting Scenario Section.

Neil Seery/

See Betting Scenario Section.

Cody Garbrandt/

Garbrandt has 6 wins and 6 knockouts. Four in the first round, 5 under 1.5 rounds, and just 1 that went longer. That 1 fight took place in his UFC debut. When a fighter with a significant finishing rate on the regional scene makes the move up there tends to be a bit of a recoil in their finishing skills due to an improvement in opposition. Cody is facing an opponent who has never been knocked out as a pro, but he was hurt in his debut and knocked out on the show. Cody may stop him, but Briones makes it through the first half.

Mike Swick/

I was initially on the Over, which is a little surprising. Garcia has been an absolute killer and Swick appears to be well passed his prime. The reason I made the switch to the Under is partially because of the same info that I talked about in the above Prop breakdown. Garcia has gone the distance in back to back fights after 9 first round finishes in 12 bouts to start his career. I think he finds his comfort zone in the UFC and is able to land something of significance against an opponent on his way to the end of his MMA run. Play the Under.

Matt Brown/

See Betting Scenario Section.

Brad Pickett/

Pickett’s chin is a bit of a concern and Almeida has been an absolute killer, but I see Pickett getting a boost from returning to BW. If this line was set at 2.5 I would consider the Under, but at 1.5 I will move on the Over. Pickett has only been knocked out once, very early in is career and has faced some strong competition. Almeida looks good, but Pickett survives to hit the Over.

Robbie Lawler/

See Betting Scenario Section.

Chad Mendes/

If you aren’t sure which side you want to back then the Under is the play. It takes in account how dangerous both men are and the stopping power they both have. Mendes has finished 5 of his last 7 opponents under the 2.5 limit. McGregor has stopped 16 of 17 opponents before the end of round 2. I’m concerned with how often Mendes got tagged by Aldo and the issues he had with the distance. Additionally, if Conor falters in his first major step up in competition, the Under is still in play because his opponent knows how to finish.

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