The Problem with UFC 189
2015 is now officially halfway over and in my opinion, two of the biggest cards of the year are the approaching UFC 189 and UFC 190; 189 was supposed to be anyway. Months of build between Featherweight headliners Jose Aldo and his adversary, the trash-talking “Notorious” Conor McGregor went out the window when Aldo injured his ribs in training with two weeks to go.
With the rapid rise that the Irish McGregor has been on, the promotion was in no mood to axe the upcoming event.
In its entire history, the UFC seems to have lost just two shows: UFC 151 and 176. Oddly enough, 176 was billed as Aldo vs. Mendes II with Aldo set to face Chad Mendes back in 2014 until Aldo injured his neck. The bout was then moved to UFC 179. If he can conquer McGregor and claim the interim division title, Mendes will square off against the Brazilian for a third time at a future date to declare an undisputed champion. It all comes down to 189 on July 11.
However, there is some controversy surrounding this main event match-up. Veteran fighter Frankie “The Answer” Edgar and his legions of fans feel that he was passed over for the title shot. Even though I’m an Edgar fan, I like Mendes’ stats better, which I believe could lead to a great fight.
Edgar may be 24-4-1 overall since joining the UFC in 2007 at 7-0, but ten victories are by decision. In a sport where the mantra is“Never leave it in the hands of the judges”, the less experienced 17-2 Mendes has scored five KO/TKO wins (all in the first round) and just a single decision win to make him 6-1 in his last seven. McGregor is 17-2 but with 15 KO/TKOs.
There is no way that I will say that Mendes doesn’t deserve a shot at the belt, but what I struggle with is contender selection.
To the uninformed, the UFC does have overall rankings by division which list the top fifteen fighters (as of 7/6/2015 Edgar has moved up to the number one Featherweight spot with Mendes down one at number two.) At the time of picking Aldo’s replacement, Mendes was at number one, which played a big factor in the decision. Still, Edgar pointed out inconsistencies in basing fights off of those rankings.
Adam Guillen Jr. of of SB Nation wrote: “....Lorenzo [UFC CEO Lorenzo Ferttita] admits the company doesn't always stick to the rankings model when handing out title fights. “
Ferttita said, “At the end of the day we looked also at...look, Mendes is formally ranked No. 1 ahead of McGregor. It would have been a little weird if we picked Frankie and then Chad would say, but I'm number one. Not that we always go distinctly by one, two or three, but both guys were available, and he was number one and Frankie was number two. I think looking at Mendes' past performances [helped]. That fight last fall against Aldo [at UFC 179] was one of the great fights in UFC history. In his last fight against Lamas he blew right through the guy. And it was like, you know what, he's got the momentum we feel like, and we feel like he deserves it.”
In my book, since the Ferttita brothers and UFC President Dana White own and run the promotion, they can do whatever they darn well please. An idea that has crossed my mind though would be to have a rankings system that would be private. Sometimes the best matchups don't work with a system all the time and could allow what Ferttita said to happen.
I believe the marquee bout of 189 to be a great one that should definitely not go to the judges. As for Edgar, how do you make eyes pay attention? The only answer is to finish fights
UFC 189: Mendes vs. McGregor takes place July 11 in Las Vegas, Nevada with UFC 190: Rousey vs. Correia taking place in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil on August 1.
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