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UFC 189: A Complete A-to-Z Preview

By Nasir Jabbar

So Nation, as expected the most lavishly-promoted fight in UFC history has gone up in smoke. God. Dammit. What could of caused such wrath from the MMA gods? Oh, yeah. Thanks #UFCFightKit.

Anyways, the UFC did secure a back-up plan for the “Notorious” one in Team Alpha Male stud Chad Mendes. The two-time title challenger had been brought into Las Vegas as stand-by, as luck would of have it, was drafted in the 11th hour. Mendes is still a solid replacement against McGregor considering their heated arguments and arguably a tougher stylistic match-up, even if it’s not the fight we were all hoping for. But before I spiral into a deep depression, let’s get into the A-to-Z preview of this weekend’s still pretty epic event, shall we?

A is for Attention
Considering it’s one of the most coveted titles in the promotion’s history, Robbie Lawler vs. Rory MacDonald is getting next to no attention. Sure, neither Lawler nor MacDonald are as skilled as McGregor when it comes to the art of self-promoting, but Lawler’s rise from wasted talent to UFC champion is nothing short of remarkable, while MacDonald has been heralded for years as “the future of the sport.” I guess this what happens when you put all your eggs into the Aldo-McGregor basket.

B is for Beef
The new main-event can keep it’s feud narrative, if you ask me, but was Mendes’ beef with McGregor the overriding factor which got Mendes the nod over Frankie Edgar? The answer: UH-DUH!!

C is for Canada
Ever since GSP semi-retired, the Canadian market has sort of dwindled. That could all change come Saturday night if British Columbia native Rory MacDonald can become the new UFC welterweight champion. The promotion could do with a Canadian attraction, not only would it fill GSP’s void but they could also stop relying on Demetrious Johnson to headline cards over there. I’m sure the Canadian fans would be thankful.

D is for Deja-vu
Once upon a time, long before Renan Barao was a proverbial monster and/or beast, he took on Brad Pickett in what turned out to be his coming out party. It almost seems like deja-vu for poor Pickett, who is seemingly once again being set up as the sacrificial lamb to an up-and-coming Brazilian prospect, this time in the shape of the undefeated Thomas Almeida.

E is for Europe
Joanna ‘Champion’ became the first UFC European champion since Andrei Arlovski. Man, that was some time ago. Before the Polish phenom, Alexander Gustafsson came close in a valiant effort against Jon Jones, and Khabib Nurmagomedov has likewise emerged as a hot commodity before a knee injury stalled his progress. Will McGregor fever secure a second UFC title for Europe on American soil, and just a week after Independence Day?

F is for Fest
Besides the title fight between Lawler and MacDonald, there are four other bouts scheduled at 170lbs. And as a result of Jordan Mein going down with injury, there was a shuffle of welterweights with the most hated fighter in the UFC (for some reason), Cathal Pendred, entering the frame against John Howard. UFC 189 is a regular welterweight-fest.

G is for Gate
Despite losing the most eagerly anticipated fight of the year, UFC 189 will still do a record $7 million gate, which eclipse’s the grudge rematch between Anderson Silva vs. Chael Sonnen. This will be a promotional record in the U.S.

H is for Hunger
MacDonald finally lands his long-awaited UFC title shot against a familiar opponent. When the two of them squared of at UFC 167, Lawler eked out a razor-thin split decision, but MacDonald, who is now riding a three-fight win streak, believes that he didn’t have the hunger in their first meeting. The Tristar student now feels mentally and physically prepared as he enters the most important fight of his career.

I is for Ireland
There will be a strong Irish contingent present in Las Vegas come fight night, with over 20% of ticket sales coming from Ireland.

J is for Jose
The first and only UFC featherweight champion will have to sit out UFC 189 through the much publicised rib injury. In fact, Aldo has now pulled out of six title fights, yet the 145lbs strap has been defended more than a few of the other divisions.

K is for Key
When is the next UFC stadium show? This is a question which gets repeatedly linked with McGregor, who states that he is the only fighter on the roster who holds the key to what could be the promotion’s biggest gate ever. Both Aviva Stadium and Croke Park have been identified as possible hosts.

L is for Level
During the UFC 189 conference call, McGregor labelled replacement Mendes as a “substitute” and a “B-Level fighter”.

M is for Mayweather
Chat show host Conon O’Brien opened a can of worms when he asked whether McGregor would be prepared to take on human-garbage Floyd Mayweather. Typically, the brash Irishman was confident he would defeat the undefeated boxer.

N is for No Love
- After a brilliant performance outpointing the dynamic Chris Beal, Neil Seery still finds himself stuck on Fight Pass. :(
- ‘No Love’ also returns on the televised prelims, as Cody Garbrandt is set to take on Henry Briones (we don’t know who that is either). Garbrandt look to build off his impressive debut back in January, where he beat up Marcus Brimage.

O is for October
Aldo could eventually return to the octagon in October, and wouldn’t you know it, the UFC recently announced their return to Ireland in, you guessed it, October. The Fight Night event is slated to air on Fight Pass, so any possible title fight would be unlikely, but a potential in-ring confrontation between Aldo and the new interim champ (whoever that may be)? Much more likely.

P is for Predictions
“I predict dese tings.” — the wise words of one Mystic Mac. The Dubliner likes a prediction or two, and he’s saying that the contest wont last longer than four minutes. As for Mendes, he believes the fight will be over within three rounds.

Q is for Quick
Mike “Quick” Swick finally returns to the octagon after the second two-and-a-half year layoff of his career. Swick has now relocated to Thailand, where he’s set up an affiliate AKA gym, and takes on Alex Garcia in something of a grudge match.

R is for Random
According to “Red King” or whatever Rory’s nickname is nowadays, he has been subject to two random drug test during his preparation. Stay clean y’all.

S is for Sinead O’Connor
Irish singer Sinead O’Connor will be performing Foggy Dews live as she walks McGregor into the cage at UFC 189. This is an unprecedented move for the UFC, but then again, unprecedented is good way of describing McGregor’s rise to popularity.

T is for Toy
Aldo released a statement shorty after having to withdraw, where he called the interim title a “toy” and something for McGregor to show off to his “drunk friends”. A little presumptuous, Jose.

U is for Under The Bus
Company president Dana White (along with McGregor) broke the news about Aldo withdrawing live on Sportscenter, where he pretty much threw his champion under the bus by stating the amount of times he’s had to pull out and claiming that other fighters have fought with the same injury. This is something we’ve come to expect from The Baldfather.

V is for Van Damme
As Steven Seagal’s MMA tenure is slowly evaportating, fellow action star Jean-Claude Van Damme wants in on the action too, claiming he could help fix the mistakes in McGregor’s striking. You know what they say, behind every GOAT there is a B-movie action star.

W is for Wrestler
The wrestler question. For so long, McGregor haters have wanted to see the Irishmen tested against a true wrestler. His original path to gold saw him face tough competition, albeit against favourable match-ups, so has his success owed to the UFC overprotecting their golden child or clever matchmaking? I personally say the latter, but its up for debate. In either case, McGregor will answer a lot of these questions when he faces the featherweight division’s best wrestler on two weeks notice. Will he succumb to Mendes’ superior wrestling offense or will he be able to stuff the takedowns and keep the fight standing?

X is for X-Ray
First it was a fracture¬†and the fight was off, then it was only bruised and the fight was on, then the fight was hanging in the balance…until x-rays determined Aldo’s ribs were in fact fractured. This ultimately forced the Brazilian to withdraw from the most anticipated fight of the year. Sigh.

Y is for Yard
If ‘The Notorious’ is victorious on Saturday, could the unification bout be held in a stadium in his backyard? Methinks so.

Z is for Zillions
UFC 189′s gate will stay intact even with Aldo’s withdrawal, but the PPV will take a hit. According to White, the pay-per-view was tracking to hit the 1 million mark while McGregor was predicting, as usual, a zillion buys and for it to break UFC 100 numbers. The event should still do a healthy number, though it most likely won’t compensate for the zillions that were spent promoting this thing.

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