“I didn’t come here to take part,” Conor McGregor has famously said about his rising stardom in the UFC. “I came here to take over!”
The brash Irishman made good on his talk tonight at UFC 189, earning the UFC interim featherweight championship with a second round TKO of Chad Mendes.
He had to overcome some adversity, though. Mendes was initially able to show off his wrestling based offense — narrowly earning the first stanza, and seemingly on his way to winning the second. But McGregor had staggered Mendes with his unorthodox striking combinations — to head and body — several times throughout the bout as well.
Eventually, McGregor recovered from a long stretch under Mendes’ “ground-and-pound” assault to land a hard straight left to drop the Californian. He then followed up with punches to earn the TKO victory with seconds remaining.
The two, who had engaged in a war of words in the weeks preceding the fight, had nothing but praise for one another afterwards. McGregor also stated his intention to fight the UFC featherweight titlist, Jose Aldo, who pulled out of the event due to a rib injury.
In the co-main event, UFC welterweight champion Robbie Lawler and Rory MacDonald fought a back-and-forth, blood-and-guts war — with Lawler out-lasting the Canadian for a TKO victory.
Lawler and MacDonald seemed to measure each other to begin but both began landing damaging strikes in a fast-paced second round, particularly some hard 1-2 punching combinations from Lawler. MacDonald nearly stopped Lawler in the third round following a head kick and may have edged the fourth as well. Lawler landed a punishing straight left which left MacDonald crumbling on the mat in the fifth, however — ending the fight.
The bout was Lawler’s first title defense since winning the title in December.
For full UFC 189 results and play-by-play, see https://www.cagedinsider.com/ufc/ufc-189-results-pbp/