When it was announced the UFC featherweight champion Jose Aldo had suffered an injury in training and his bout with brash Irishman Conor McGregor was in jeopardy, fight fans everywhere were devastated. Months of trash-talk, hype and buildup just went down the drain.

But all is not lost because as soon as the UFC got wind of the injury, they put a contingency plan in place. That plan goes by the name of Chad “Money” Mendes; a perennial contender who was ready, willing and able to step in on a moment’s notice. When Aldo officially announced that he was withdrawing from the bout, Mendes was ready to take his place.

The bad news for fight fans is the main event is no longer a grudge match for the undisputed UFC featherweight title. Instead, fans will be treated to a grudge match for the interim featherweight title as McGregor and Mendes truly dislike one another.

There’s more to UFC 189 than just McGregor vs. Mendes as the welterweight title will also be up for grabs. In the co-main event of the evening, newly crowned champion Robbie Lawler will look to defend his title for the first time against stellar young gun Rory MacDonald.

All in all, UFC 189 will be a great night of fights featuring some of the best talent the UFC has to offer. For the gamblers out there, UFC 189 features some solid plays that could net some big gains.

Brad Pickett, +625 vs. Thomas Almeida, -950

Kicking off the main card long time veteran Pickett takes on undefeated up and comer Almeida. This is a great opportunity for Almeida to pick up a big win over a name opponent, but he can’t sleep on Pickett here. Pickett may be on the backside of his career, but he is a dangerous fighter who has competed against some of the best in the world. Almeida has the tools to get the job done and when he does, it will be a huge feather in his cap.

Play: At +242 take Almeida to win by decision

Brandon Thatch, -180 vs. Gunnar Nelson, +158

In the second bout of the main card, two talented prospects in Thatch and Nelson look to get back on track after disappointing losses. Both of these fighters have a lot of potential and while both are well-rounded, Thatch is better on the feet and Nelson excels on the ground. The winner of this bout will be the fighter who can dictate where the fight takes place. Thatch will be the bigger fighter on Saturday and that will make it difficult for Nelson, but Nelson will find a way to get this fight to the ground.

Play: Take Nelson to win, and at +250, take him to win by submission

Dennis Bermudez, -210 vs. Jeremy Stephens, +175

The third bout of the evening features an exciting matchup between hungry featherweights Bermudez and Stephens. After getting his seven-fight win streak derailed by Ricardo Lamas, Bermudez is hungry to start a new one. Stephens on the other hand is looking to rebound from back-to-back decision losses. Bermudez is tough, but he has yet to face a striker with the kind of power Stephens possess; when Stephens catches someone, they go to sleep. The problem with that is that Stephens relies on that power to much and his opponents take advantage of the other facets of the game.

Play: Take Bermudez to win, and at +105, take him to win by decision

Robbie Lawler, +165 vs. Rory MacDonald, -190

In the co-main event of the evening, Lawler and MacDonald will battle it out for a second time; this time though it will be for the UFC welterweight title. In their first meeting at UFC 167 Lawler was able to edge MacDonald via split decision.

These two fighters are about as evenly matched as it gets. Lawler is the more aggressive and explosive striker while MacDonald is the more technical striker. MacDonald is the better all-around grappler, but Lawler is a solid wrestler with excellent takedown defense. There is no clear advantage for either fighter in any phase of the game.

MacDonald is a fierce young fighter, but he lacks that elite killer instinct that separates the good from the great. Lawler has that and that is why he will have the edge on Saturday.

Play: Take Lawler to win, and at +283, take him to win by decision

Chad Mendes, +145 vs. Conor McGregor, -165

This one is going to be exciting. While Aldo being out is a bit of a letdown Mendes is a tremendous replacement fighter filling the void. McGregor is a dynamic and electrifying striker while Mendes is a hard-nosed, powerhouse wrestler.

Up until this point in his career, McGregor hasn’t had to face a fighter like Mendes. Mendes is someone who can control where a fight takes place and should he get McGregor on the ground the Irishman could be in a lot of trouble. But on that same token ,Mendes hasn’t faced a striker like McGregor. McGregor’s understanding of distance and movement in the cage will be a huge obstacle for Mendes to overcome.

Leading into the initial fight vs Aldo, McGregor’s numbers looked impressive according to the stats by Sports Betting Online, albeit versus weaker opposition.  This fight versus Mendes changes the style of this affair and McGregor will need to have his takedown defense well primed. As we see below, so far he hasn’t been taken down once in the UFC.

The other thing to really keep an eye on in this bout will be the distance. With an eight-inch reach advantage, McGregor’s length will create problems, but if Mendes can close the distance, this fight will have a completely different dynamic.

Play: Take Mendes to win, and at +670, take him to win by submission

BIG Play: At +1575, take Nelson, Lawler and Mendes for the parlay

Odds provided by BestFightOdds.com

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.