Ever gone to a family or friend’s barbecue get-together, expecting all kinds of juicy meats, maybe even some delicious grilled onions and peppers, only to be served up grilled bologna?
Neither have I, but I’ve used that terrible analogy to describe the main event of UFC 189. We are getting filet mignon in the co-main event, with ‘Ruthless’ Robbie Lawler defending his UFC welterweight title against Rory
the Canadian Psycho ‘Aries’ MacDonald, and a bowl of cereal served with spoiled milk in the main event.
Nah. I’m over-exaggerating on purpose. I’m so salty over the absence of Aldo in the main event that I’m surprised my blood pressure isn’t through the roof. At this time, Conor McGregor is probably my favorite fighter to watch. I watch most UFCs with friends that are casual fans who I’ve ‘christened’ into the sport of MMA over the years, and their first exposure to a McGregor fight was back in 2013, when Conor fought Max Holloway. In that fight, he tore his ACL but still won by way of a decision over the young Holloway. Then you know the drill — McGregor returned in 2014, beat up on Diego Brandao (who’s one tough dude, despite being past his best fighting days), tooled with a top 5 featherweight in Dustin Poirier (Poirier is so much better than what he’s given credit for; he’s been one of my favorite fighters to watch for a while — he’s always game; no frills with this guy) with a first round TKO and then made his bout with Dennis Siver look easy, and Siver’s a tough son of a bitch.
A lot of folks have an issue looking past Conor McGregor’s trash talking. He’s a charismatic Irishman who’s used words as tools for marketing, promotion and a title shot over the years. I have no problem with it. I’ve always been an advocate for trash talking in sports. I love reading about and hearing anecdotal stories from basketball players that played with or against one of the greatest Boston Celtics of all-time (dare I say the greatest, but I’d rather not disrespect the likes of Bill Russell), Larry Bird, a man that might be the biggest trash talker in the history of basketball! But in the same vain as combat sports, look at the likes of Muhammad Ali, one of the greatest villains in the history of boxing/combat sports. Ali is beloved by many nowadays, and rightfully so (he’s a cultural icon!), but in his heyday, he was a bonafide villain. Look into his two fights with Floyd Patterson (the ‘babyface’ good guy) to see the biggest examples.
For detractors of McGregor, though, I ask of you to mute his trash talking and watch his fights. “But Troy! He fights cans!” you say. How so? “Well, he fought a young Holloway who’s way better now! He fought a Brandao that has psychological issues and not even much of a fighter anymore! Poirier is just a gatekeeper! Siver?! He’s old and not even the cream of the crop!” Those are all professional mixed martial artists, and Conor made it look easy by beating them. I resent how disrespecting Poirier is in MMA — a few years ago he went five rounds with the Korean Zombie, Chan Sung-Jung. McGregor destroyed him.
Conor’s standup, as a featherweight, is second to none. Watch how smooth his flow is as a striker. It’s pure, beautiful artwork. He might lose tomorrow night, and I wouldn’t be surprised, and it’s a shame if that happens, because so many fans are blinded by hate (it’s always the utmost profitable to be a villain in combat sports; people will pay a horde of money with hopes that you’ll get your ass kicked) and ignore the skill of McGregor.
“Troy! He’s never been tested by a wrestler in the UFC!” And now he will, tomorrow night, by Chad Mendes. If McGregor beats Mendes, detractors will still find a way to disparage him, and they’ll say shit like, “Well, he didn’t fight Frankie Edgar!” or “Mendes didn’t have a full camp!” and those arguments are plum silly.
MMA fans are the most fickle in all of sports. Trust me. Look around. “But Troy! Doesn’t that make you fickle, then, to say that?” Eh. I guess so! I’m a fan of the sport overall, though. I have my favorite fighters, but I don’t delve into the abyss of fanboy arguments that so many people get themselves into. I think those are silly. I respect everybody who steps into the octagon and hardly negatively speak about any fighters (sans Johny Hendricks). The point I’m trying to make is, MMA fans change their opinions constantly, and it’s not from evolving their thoughts/thinking patterns or developing new perspectives… it’s more because they jump from bandwagon to bandwagon, not to mention most fans can’t see a foot ahead of them for their own hate.
Dennis Bermudez vs. Jeremy Stephens
Bermudez got toyed with by Ricardo Lamas back in November, and that’s the last we’ve seen of him. Stephens is a streaky fighter who’s lost five of his last eight fights, including his last two (Cub Swanson and Charles Oliveira). I don’t think this will be a slugest. I favor Bermudez, because I reckon his combinations are more fluid and crisp, and his wrestling will pay dividends from afar, and in close where Stephens tends to be too rigid. Prediction: Bermudez by decision.
Robbie Lawler (champion) vs. Rory MacDonald for the UFC welterweight title
These two had a hard fought battle back in November 2013 in which we saw Lawler knock down MacDonald once and he won the fight by split decision. Since then, Lawler has fought five billion times and defeated Johny Hendricks for the title back in December, while MacDonald has won three fights in a row in very dominant fashion (Demian Maia, Tyron Woodley and Tarec Saffiedine). I think this fight is going to be the undisputed fight of the night. Unfortunately it’s flying under the radar for casual fans, but fuck them. I’m so excited to see whether or not MacDonald is going to use much of his patented jab against Lawler, after RRL defended against it well back in November 2013. This fight could go either way. Either fucking way. Five rounds. This is so hard to predict. I’ve been on record with friends, saying that MacDonald is going to win the title, but I think he’s going to have to dominate Lawler for five rounds or submit him. Prediction: MacDonald by 4th round submission.
Conor McGregor vs. Chad Mendes for the UFC interim featherweight title
I ranted enough about this above. McGregor is a southpaw fighter and that could give Mendes fits, although I think Mendes’ wrestling is enough to overcome that. We’ll finally get to see McGregor’s true takedown defense against an elite wrestler in Mendes, unless McGregor flusters Mendes enough to cause Chad to go all trigger happy with the overhand right. I think the easy prediction is to say that Mandes is going to destroy McGregor, which is what a lot of bitter detractors are on their knees praying for, but I don’t really care to see a third Aldo/Mendes fight, so while a Mendes unanimous decision or submission is on a lot of people’s minds, it’s time for the Mystic Mac to once again rise to the occasion and make the bout with Aldo inevitable. Prediction: Conor McGregor by 1st round TKO.