What the very first title battle on the UFC 189 card on Saturday night at MGM Grand supplied in primitive, bloody violence, the second eclipsed with pure drama.
After Robbie Lawler completed a brutal slugfest with a straight left to the nose of Rory MacDonald to maintain the welterweight title, Conor McGregor was entrusted a challenging act to follow. The polarizing Irish super star didn’t disappoint.
He won the interim featherweight title in the primary event by knocking out Chad Mendes with three seconds continuing to be in a second round that Mendes had controlled.
McGregor lost the first round after Mendes discarded him twice with takedowns and was on his back almost the entire second round.
He got to his feet with less than 30 seconds continuing to be and handled to drop Mendes with a left hand against the cage. He followed with rights till referee Herb Dean stopped the fight with three seconds left in the round.
“No one can take that left-handed shot. It’s as simple as that,” McGregor said. “It breaks everybody and he broke.”
The sold-out crowd, numerous of whom had taken a trip from Ireland, emerged in festivity after withstanding the very first tense minutes of McGregor’s career.
“I’m absolutely surprised by the support,” he said. “I cannot put into words how appreciative I am.”
Mendes was dissatisfied after letting the third title shot of his career slip through his hands, however chose not to blame the abbreviated training camp after stepping in for champ Jose Aldo on less than three weeks’ notice.
“That person’s challenging,” Mendes said of McGregor. “He talks, however he backs it up.”
Lawler showed a similar quality in keeping his title. He lagged 3-1 on all 3 scorecards getting in the final round only to obtain the knockout he required.
Lawler drew first blood during the 2nd round with numerous power punches to MacDonald’s face, however MacDonald rallied and was on the verge of completing the battle when the bell sounded to end the 3rd.
The fourth round started likewise with MacDonald damageding Lawler. The champ showed resolve in righting the ship and making it through the assault.
As the fourth round ended, both competitors stared at the swollen bloody face of his opponent, choosing not to retreat to the corner for numerous seconds.
It had not been long into the last round before Lawler ended the bloodbath, landing a straight left to the bridge of MacDonald’s nose that made him go back and cover up, ending the fight.
“That was the build-up of a beatdown. That wasn’t one punch. I’m the champ. I’m here to stay,” Lawler said. “No matter what occurs I keep coming and I try to knock individuals out.”
Jeremy Stephens emerged triumphant with a knockout of Dennis Bermudez in a back-and-forth thriller that left both competitors damageded and bloodied.
After two wild rounds, Bermudez shot for a takedown early in the third only to capture a knee from Stephens that right away dropped him. Numerous big follow-up shots on the ground were enough to end the fight.
“It was a remarkable fight. I trained difficult and I had a terrific mentality entering,” stated Stephens, a featherweight who missed out on the 146-pound limit by more than 3 pounds Friday. “Dennis is an excellent opponent, I certainly couldn’t have actually done that myself. We were 2 warriors going at it and I won the battle.”
Welterweight Gunnar Nelson recuperated from the very first loss of his profession with a first-round submission of Brandon Thatch.
Nelson, a grappling specialist, was thought to be at a downside on the feet. He knocked Thatch down, nevertheless with a left hook, straight ideal combination and immediately dove in to secure leading position.
Less than a minute later, McGregor’s training partner and fellow homeowner of the training compound in Environment-friendly Valley for the last several months, secured a fight-ending rear naked choke.
“I’m generally very confident when it gets to the ground that it’s going to be a surface,” Nelson stated. “It wasn’t much different this time.”
Brazilian bantamweight phenom Thomas Almeida opened the major card with a second-round knockout of Brad Pickett. Both fighters were torn down in the preliminary, however Almeida remained unbeaten by stopping Pickett with a flying knee that sent him backward and made his head bounce off the mat.
Welterweight Matt Brown recorded the only finish on the undercard with a first-round submission of Tim Means.
Both fighters found early success in the striking video game, however it was Brown who was able to capitalize after dropping Means with an elbow in the clinch.
He followed Method to the ground and locked in a guillotine choke with just 16 seconds staying in the opening round.
Mike Swick returned to the cage after more than 2 1/2 years away from competition and lost a choice to Alex Garcia in a welterweight bout. Another welterweight, John Howard, snapped Cathal Pendred’s four-fight UFC winning streak with a split-decision success.
Cody Garbrandt, a training partner of Mendes, won all three rounds of a bantamweight bout against Henry Briones.
Louis Smolka and Cody Pfister each got consentaneous decision victories.
Contact reporter Adam Hillside at firstname.lastname@example.org!.?.! or 702-224-5509. Follow him on Twitter: @adamhilllvrj.