It’s fight night in Las Vegas, as one of the biggest MMA events of 2015 is going down at the MGM Grand Garden Arena.
UFC 189 will feature a rare two title bouts: as welterweight champion Robbie Lawler defends against rising star Rory MacDonald, and the UFC’s new ‘golden boy’ Conor McGregor faces Chad Mendes for the interim featherweight title.
This event is stacked like few others in recent memory — with solid bouts among the main card including the return of Gunnar Nelson. Perennial welterweight contender and all-action battler Matt Brown highlights the undercard as he faces the streaking Tim Means.
We’ll begin a play-by-play at 8 pm ET, 5 pm PT, along with the results from the “UFC Fight Pass” preliminary bouts. The main card begins at 10 pm ET, 7 pm PT. Please join us and hit refresh for the latest update!
Preliminary Card (UFC Fight Pass)
Lightweights: Cody Pfister defeats Yosdenis Cedeno by unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
Flyweights: Louis Smolka defeats Neil Seery by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
Preliminary Card (Fox Sports 1)
Bantamweights: Cody Garbrandt vs. Henry Briones
The night’s biggest betting favorite Garbrandt is an unbeaten (6-0) Team Alpha Male product. Opponent Briones, of Tijuana, is 19-4 as a pro and on an eight fight winning streak.
Round One: Both guys bouncing about and throwing little to start. They exchange jabs, may have been a clash of heads. Briones looks for clinch off Garbrandt’s missed punches, but no dice. Garbrandt tries a high kick. Nice left hook from Briones — best punch of the fight. Two and a half long minutes down… good right by Garbrandt, Briones looks a little staggered, but jabs again. Garbrandt looks for guillotine in a scramble. Garbrandt with a takedown, a few good elbows, looks for mount as the round ends. 10-9, Garbrandt.
Round Two: Garbrandt throwing here and there in a tepid start. Briones lands his left hook. Boo-birds out after two minutes. Garbrandt with a good 3-2 combo and another right. Big shot drops Briones! He scrambles to his feet but is bloodied… Garbrandt slows his assault, looks for a head kick. Nice punch/knee combo from Briones. 90 sec left. Garbrandt continuing to advance, lands 1-2’s. 10-9 Garbrandt.
Interesting point here. The fight isn’t so interesting.
I like that the Spanish UFC commentators judge each round. This gives viewers an idea of who's winning and how MMA is scored #UFC189
— Danny Segura (@DannySeguraTV) July 12, 2015
Round Three: More tepid standup action, Briones eating some rights and jabs, but nothing too damaging. His hands are low but he has pretty good movement. This is the first UFC bout I’ve seen with the new uniforms and I don’t like them very much, feels amateurish somehow. Nice punching combo from Briones, but Garbrandt gets a takedown. One minute left. The two have the wild exchange everyone hoped for in the last few seconds. 10-9, Garbrandt.
Have it for Garbrandt, but he played it too cautious for me.
— Heidi Fang (@HeidiFang) July 12, 2015
Should be an easy call for the judges but we will see… and yes, they got it right.
Cody Garbrandt defeats Henry Briones by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
Welterweights: Cathal Pendred vs. John Howard
Ireland’s Pendred should get some good crowd support from his countrymen (who are here in LV for McGregor) — he’s also known to have the support of judges, too. “Doomsday” Howard has a solid Muay Thai attack but has lost three straight. Pendred is a minor betting favorite.
Round One: Howard with a leg kick. Howard with a left hook, weird looping style. Howard catches a kick, but Pendred muscles him around in the clinch and gets him against the cage. A few knees to the legs from Pendred before they break apart. Pendred seems to be showing setting up a shot. He backs Howard up for some more knees, but man is the action slow. Howard lands that looping left nicely, also a head kick. 10-9, Howard.
Round Two: Howard with some good-looking hand combo’s to start. He ends one with a hard uppercut. Pendred looks to initiate a clinch but Howard slips away this time. Howard controlling a slow fight now, gets a few shots in against the cage. Pendred struggling with his jab with about a minute left. This is another subpar fight, but Howard doing enough. 10-9, Howard.
Round Three: Howard has hit a few leg kicks, and hits a heavy one that seems to leave Pendred shaken. Good punches in the clinch from Howard. Pendred clinching up but not doing much. Howard tries a takedown. Pendred drops with guillotine in full closed guard, but Howard slips out. Pendred scrambles to his feet. 90 sec. left. Pendred circling away as Howard advances but neither doing anything. Leg kick from Howard. Nice punching exchange to end. 10-9, Howard.
This should be an easy call… but…
30-27 Howard. Judges will have it 30-24 Pendred.
— caposa (@GrabakaHitman) July 12, 2015
John Howard defeats Cathal Pendred by split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28). Told you judges love Pendred. Moving on…
Welterweights: Mike Swick vs. Alex Garcia
Old TUF1 cast member Mike Swick makes his UFC return, after stretches in Thailand and elsewhere. Garcia, of Dominican Repulbic but based in Canada, is 2-1 in the UFC and an almost five-to-one favorite.
Round One: They exchange jabs, Garcia with a big slam takedown. Swick in full guard. Swick scrambles up, but eats a 3-2 on the way up. Another takedown from Garcia. Swick back up, lands nice jab. Garcia advancing but not landing much, Swick seems very concerned about his power. Garcia’s brief highlights are a bit more convincing, but not by much. 10-9, Garcia.
Round Two: Garcia with a quick takedown. Light g’n’p, and Swick finally escapes off the cage. Garcia lancing with straight punches. Good body kick from Swick, something his corner has called for all night… Garcia with another takedown. Light g’n’p. Tepid round ends, but it’s Garcia again. 10-9, Garcia.
Round Three: Garcia with a slight edge in striking, controlling the center, and it’s a slow grind but it’s working. Big takedown from Garcia, and he slowly works to mount. More punches from Garcia. Swick struggles to get half guard but ends up mounted again. Swick escapes to his feet near the final bell. 10-9, Garcia.
This night is off to a slow start.
Alex Garcia defeats Mike Swick by unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 30-27).
Welterweights: Matt Brown vs. Tim Means
Brown was barely .500 at one point, but has since won seven of his last nine — with his only losses to the welter titlists. Means has enjoyed a career resurgence of late as well. Two all-action guys so hopefully this show turns around. Brown a slight favorite.
Round One: Brown with backfist and kicks to begin. Means with a big straight left to rock Brown. He follows the retreating Brown and hits an elbow. Punching combo from Means. Eye poke from Brown stops the action… Back on, and they exchange big straight punches. Brown backs Means against the cage. They disengage. Means looks for takedown, but Brown stuffs it. Nice takedown from Brown! Means back up, Brown with a good elbow. Means with a jab and elbow combo. Brown bloodied and forced to the cage. Brown cracks him with an elbow, Means shoots in — and Brown gets a guillotine! Means taps!
There's the Matt Brown we all know and love.
— Dave Doyle (@davedoylemma) July 12, 2015
Matt Brown defeated Tim Means by submission (guillotine choke) at 4:44 of round one.
Main card up next!
Main Card (PPV)
Bantamweights: Brad Pickett vs. Thomas Almeida
Brazilian young gun Almeida is just 23, and 19-0, 2-0 with the UFC. England’s Pickett is 36, and 24-10 total — but has won only two of his last five. Almeida is a big (-825) favorite.
Round One: Both guys bouncing in and out, Almeida showing an inside leg kick. They exchange hand combo’s with Pickett landing hooks to body and head. Almeida cracked and dropped to the mat off a left hook! Almeida up to his feet — but Pickett with a big knee to drop him again! Almeida up but bloodied. Big spinning elbow from Pickett. Almeida looking to stay on outside but he’s not landing much, looking a bit shaken. Big punching combo — hook/uppercut — from Almeida! And he lands again with a 1-2. Wow, what a round. 10-9, Pickett.
Round Two: BOOM! Almeida with a huge flying knee to the chin. All over!
Thomas Almeida defeats Brad Pickett by KO (knee) at 0:29 of round one.
Pickett just walked by press row and watched the replay of the KO. Expression didn’t change one bit.
— Jeremy Botter (@jeremybotter) July 12, 2015
Welterweights: Gunnar Nelson vs. Brandon Thatch
Iceland’s Nelson is a McGregor training partner so should get some great support here. He’s also an excellent grappler with a fun karate-based striking game. Thatch, of Elevation in Colorado, had a ten fight winning streak before losing to Ben Henderson earlier this year. Thatch is as much as a -175 favorite by some online wager systems.
Round One: Nelson in his classic karate stance. Nice leg kick from Thatch, who seems clearly the more fluid athlete. Nelson looks for the clinch. Big straight right from Nelson floors Thatch! Nelson in mount — then lands punches from side control. Elbows in mount, looking for Americana and then gets back mount. Nelson with a rear naked choke for the win!
Gunnar Nelson defeats Brandon Thatch by submission (rear naked choke) at 2:54 of round one.
Gunni Nelson is everything I love about MMA: a no nonsense, lifelong martial artist, doesn't game the weight cut or point system. #UFC189
— Tommy Hackett (@tommy_hackett) July 12, 2015
Yep, I quote myself. Sometimes I make talky-talky hand gestures.
Catchweight (149.5 lbs): Dennis Bermudez vs. Jeremy Stephens
Bermudez is coming off a loss to Ricardo Lamas last year, but the old NCAA All-American had a seven fight winning streak before that. Stephens, more of an all-around brawler, missed weight badly for this bout; he has also lost his last two and five of his last eight. Bermudez is a two to one favorite here.
Round One: Bermudez looks for the takedown but it’s stuffed. Stephens lands a hard shot that seems to stagger Bermudez, but he lands a counter — and becomes the “stalker” in the striking exchanges. Bermudez with a takedown after a battle against the cage. Two and half minutes left, Bermudez lands a few and looks to get the back. Bermudez looking for an arm triangle. Stephens is bloody. Back up, Bermudez landing more punches as Stephens swings wildly. 10-9, Bermudez.
Replay between rounds shows the blood was from an accidental head butt.
Round Two: Stephens with a heavy leg kick. Stephens finally lands that haymaker he’s been trying. Bermudez is stunned but he clinches Stephens up. Stephens with big punches and more leg kicks. Bermudez is dropped to the mat but gets back up and drops Stephens with a teep to the body. Great fight! Bermudez cracks Stephens with a straight left off a fake kick. 10-9, Stephens.
Round Three: Stephens lands a HUGE flying knee as Bermudez changes levels for a takedown! Bermudez is out!
Jeremy Stephens defeated Dennis Bermudez by knockout (flying knee) at 0:32 of round three.
Co-main events next!
Welterweights: Robbie Lawler vs. Rory MacDonald (for Lawler’s UFC Welterweight Championship)
Here we go! 25 year old McDonald out to a Tool song, “Forty six and two.” Lawler with Sam & Dave’s “Hold On I’m Comin'” which has become his trademark. Robbie looks very relaxed this time out.
Round One: MacDonald backing away looking for his straight right. Body kick by MacDonald. Inside leg kick from Robbie. Both guys showing a lot of respect — we’re halfway through the round but little has landed. Lawler sprawls out of a MacDonald takedown and lands a knee. Lawler with uppercuts to head and body. Nice jab by Lawler. 10-9, Lawler.
Round Two: MacDonald going for an inside leg kick, he keeps landing off Lawler’s cup. Both guys exchange hand combo’s. Good head kick from MacDonald. MacDonald landing his jab a bit more here as well. Nice 1-2 by Lawler. MacDonald tries to answer but he gets cracked again. Man that was close… but 10-9, Lawler.
Round Three: Lawler with a solid straight left and trying to establish the jab now. MacDonald tries a takedown but Lawler sprawls. Punches to the head in the sprawl position from Lawler. MacDonald pretty busted now — the “crimson mask.” Lawler slipping MacDonald’s counters and controlling the action now. Bam, a big head kick from MacDonald! He tries to follow up but Lawler hangs tough, eating shot after shot! Lawler makes it out of the round but he’s hurt. 10-9, MacDonald.
Round Four: MacDonald hits the head kick again. Lawler is wobbled and eating shots — but barely escapes the TKO loss. Lawler finally starts circling away. MacDonald with good straight rights when faking the kick and good kicks when faking the straight, a la GSP. Lawler lands a good left hook. Lawler slowly coming back. Lawler sprawls out of a takedown and cracks MacDonald. Both guys bloody messes now. Lawler a little ahead in the last few exchanges as time wears down. 10-9, MacDonald.
Round Five: Lawler with big 1-2! MacDonald crumbles to the mat and Lawler follows up with punches… IT’S OVER! What a fight!
Robbie Lawler defeats Rory MacDonald by TKO (punches) at 1:00 of round five.
Featherweight: Chad Mendes vs. Conor McGregor (for the interim UFC Featherweight Championship)
Incredible atmosphere with both fighters enjoying the presence of live musicians for their entrances. McGregor comes out to “Foggy Dew” by Sinead O’Connor, a song chronicling Ireland’s Easter Uprising of 1916. Mendes has Aaron Lewis singing “Country Boy.”
Round One: McGregor with a spinning back kick, but gets taken down and punched right away. Punching combo from Mendes. Spinning back kick from McGregor. Straight left from McGregor. Spinning back kick from McGregor again. Nice right from Mendes, and a takedown. McGregor in closed guard. McGregor up after some light g’n’p but is cracked by a right. Nice kick and a body shot by McGregor. Another takedown from Mendes, right into side control. Big punches from Mendes. Big elbow from Mendes in half guard. 10-9, Mendes.
Round Two: McGregor using a variety of kicks to the body and a hard straight left. But he’s taken down less than a minute into the round. Mendes with punches and elbows to the head of McGregor, keeping the pressure on… minutes are passing in McGregor’s guard, with the g’n’p continuing slow and steady. McGregor with downward elbows in the guard. McGregor asking for a standup, it appears. No dice, he’s getting beat down. But he escapes as Mendes tries a guillotine. McGregor landing punches in bunches! Mendes crumbles to the mat! It’s over!
Conor McGregor defeats Chad Mendes by TKO (punches) at 4:57 of round two.
What a night, possibly the best UFC ever.
And yes, #UFC189 is easily one of the best MMA events of all time. The main card was so good the prelim dreck is but a distant memory.
— Luke Thomas (@SBNLukeThomas) July 12, 2015
I concur. Thank you to the UFC for a great event, and thank you for joining us!