The lineup of UFC 189 is dominated by two fights.

Not as big as originally hoped for is the featherweight interim title bout between late replacement Chad “Money” Mendes and blossoming megastar “Notorious” Conor McGregor.

The welterweight title between longtime fan favorite “Ruthless” Robbie Lawler and hipster Rory “The Waterboy/Aries/Red King/Half-Caff Soy Latte” MacDonald rounds out the double-main event.

While those two bouts are sure to great in their own way, certainly if McGregor gets the mic for a post-fight rant on Jose Aldo, three other 189 fights are full of intrigue for differing reasons and could all wind up earning showstealer status, or at the very least, making this event in Las Vegas a top-to-bottom success.

MEANS vs. BROWN

The UFC often gets too much credit for its matchmaking because in actuality it’s not an overly difficult task when you’ve got all the best guys in the world under contract. Yet in this case, kudos are in order because the matchmaker has done it right here putting mirror image fighters up against each other under the spotlight. The “clash of styles” fights are good in theory, but two twins feuding are often more rewarding for the spectators.

In the midst of his second stint in the UFC, Tim “The Dirty Bird” Means has captured four straight wins, the last two by stoppages as he submitted George Sullivan and KO’d Dhiego Lima. He’s dangerous.

Though he’s coming off two losses in a row, “Immortal” Matt Brown is unquestionably one of the most entertaining fighters in the entire organization. His back-to-back setbacks have been to kingpins Robbie Lawler and Johny Hendricks but prior to that Brown was the best thing going in the UFC.

Currently ranked No. 5, Brown became a limelight guy with memorable destructions of Mike Pyle, Jordan Mein, and Erick Silva during a seven-fight winning streak.

Showstealer Potential: 5 out of 5. How can this not be a fan-friendly, phenomenal fight? The violence level is through the roof. It’s honestly too bad that this fight is either the main prelim or the opener on PPV. It deserves to be a main event on an FS1 show.

Situation: Three losses in a row probably won’t get Brown cut because of his excitement factor, but it would drop him to gatekeeper status. A Means win would mean a ranking and most likely a shot at an even bigger name.

THATCH vs NELSON

When last seen, Brandon Thatch was submitted in the fourth round of a relatively one-sided setback against Benson Henderson. That loss put a screeching halt to Thatch’s impressive 10-fight winning streak that included his first bouts in the Octagon.

Thatch is certainly still a prospect as a loss to a former champion, and a formidable in Henderson, and he is a finisher. He has stopped his opponents in all 11 of his wins – eight via knockout and three by submission.

When last seen, Gunner Nelson was on the wrong side of a split decision to Rick Story, so like Thatch, he too is coming off a loss and the end of a long winning streak – 13 straight in the case of Nelson following a draw in pro debut.

Nelson, who was 4-0 under the UFC banner going into the Story fight, is also a finisher with three knockouts and nine submissions.

The winner stays relevant in the deep division, the loser likely will have seen the last of pay-per-view action and is probably relegated all the way to free card prelims. Nelson’s loss to mid-ranked Story barely kept him in the top 15.

Showstealer Potential: 4 out of 5. Highly probable that Round 1 is an extremely volatile battle.

Situation: Thatch’s quick-start history – all 11 wins have come inside the first round – is the key here. If he gets off to a blazing start, he’ll probably blitz his way to a win.

SWICK vs. GARCIA

Former TUF 1 combatant Mike “Quick” Swick is back from a three-year absence, most of it used to create AKA Thailand and some to lick his wounds following a KO loss to Matt Brown which followed a previous hiatus due to medical conditions.

Swick has lost three of his last four and one would have to wonder if there’s really much left in him or point to him being around. More than likely it’s the fact he was on the first and most successful TUF season which has earned him some staying power.

Alex Garcia has won five of his last six but his last outing was a loss to Neil Magny which puts him in this make-or-break, or maybe lose-lose, situation against Swick. If Garcia wins, yes, he’ll be back on track but the victory would come over a guy who has fought in a long time, is past his prime, etc. etc. If he loses, well, he falls to a guy who hasn’t fought in a long time, is probably past his prime, etc. etc.

Showstealer Potential: 3 out of 5. It all hinges on Swick if he’s still “Quick” because if he is then it will stoke something out of Garcia who has eight first-round finishes.

Situation: Neither guy would gain much rankings-wise out of win, but they could vault themselves into the realm of fighters that fans want to see more of.

About The Author

Scott Zerr
Staff Writer

Scott joins The MMA Corner having spent the last 14 years in mixed martial arts as Director of Media & Fighter Relations for the Maximum Fighting Championship. He will provide The MMA Corner with insight on breaking news in the sport, plus an insider's perspective on business developments, matchmaking, fighter signings, and much more. In addition to his longtime work in MMA, Scott was a sports reporter before moving into media relations and marketing. After growing up and working in Edmonton, Alberta, Scott has since moved to Bakersfield, California to be with his wife Christina (an avid fight fan, thank goodness) and kids.