When UFC featherweight champion Jose Aldo suffered a rib injury in training just days away from UFC 189, it seemed disastrous. The UFC had spent ridiculous sums of money hyping and promoting the showdown between Aldo and Conor McGregor. But as soon as the UFC got wind of the injury, they immediately put a contingency plan in by staging perennial contender Chad Mendes to fill in should Aldo pull out of the fight.

Even though the main event has seen a major change by losing the reigning UFC featherweight champion, UFC 189 remains spectacular; featuring two title fights and a host of spectacular matchups. On Saturday, July 11, 2015, when the UFC heads to the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, fight fans will be treated to one of the best events of the year.

Reebok Uniforms

Back on Dec. 2, 2014, the UFC announced a landmark uniform and fighter outfitting deal with Reebok. After months of speculation and announcements, the UFC’s new uniforms go into effect for UFC 189. It will be interesting to see what the new looks adds to the UFC product if anything. It will also be interesting to see how the new Reebok sponsor money for the fighters is received by the fighter as many are taking hefty pay cuts.

Prospects Looking to Rebound

In the second bout of the main card, two top welterweight prospects will be looking to rebound as Gunnar Nelson and Brandon Thatch battle it out. Nelson and Thatch are both coming off of disappointing losses to highly respected veterans and both are hungry to get back in the win column.

Welterweight Title Bout

In the co-main event of the evening, newly crowned welterweight champion Robbie Lawler will be looking for his first title defense against Rory MacDonald. This will be their second meeting as Lawler was able to edge MacDonald out with a razor thin split decision victory at UFC 167.

Since that fight, MacDonald has been on a roll winning three in a row over some impressive competition; beating Demian Maia, Tyron Woodley and Tarec Saffiedine. As one of the most complete fighters in the sport today, MacDonald brings a high level of technical excellence to the cage with him, but his low risk style hurts him in close fights.

Lawler on the other hand has seen the greatest career turnaround in MMA history. He has gone from talented prospect to respected journeyman to now being one of the best pound-for-pound fighters in the world. Lawler is tough and aggressive, but he has become a more calculating fighter in the cage and that is why he is where he is today.

Their first bout was close and fun and expect nothing different this time around. Since that first meeting, both men have continued to evolve and grow as fighters. This one has the potential to be a lot of fun.

Interim Featherweight Title Bout

With Aldo out the main event of the evening is now an interim featherweight title fight between Mendes and McGregor. While Aldo vs. McGregor would have been a lot fun because of all the hype and buildup, this late replacement bout is just as intriguing.

There are many out there who believe McGregor earned his title shot with his mouth more so than his resume. Even though he is 5-0 in the UFC with four wins by knockout, McGregor has never beaten a true top contender in the UFC featherweight division; Mendes represents his opportunity to quiet all of the haters and detractors.

For Mendes, UFC 189 represents an opportunity to achieve his dream and earn another opportunity to face his rival, Aldo. Aldo is the only fighter to defeat him and it drives Mendes crazy that he has yet to avenge that loss.

As far as matchups go, this bout has the potential to be spectacular. McGregor is an incredible striker while Mendes is a ferocious grappler. Styles make fights and there is nothing better than the classic Striker vs. Grappler matchup.

About The Author

RJ Gardner
Content Coordinator

RJ Gardner is a rabid sports fan and a long time MMA enthusiast. After watching UFC 1 at ripe old age of 11 RJ was hooked and his passion for the sport has continued to blossom over the years. RJ has been covering MMA since 2007 and has had work featured on Bleacher Report, SI.com, CBSSports.com and UFC.com. RJ is also a Petroleum Transportation Operations Manager during the day.