By J.W. Schnarr
UFC 189 took place on Saturday, July 11, and will probably go down as one of the best ever for the organization. Every fight on the card seemed to end in spectacular fashion, and the two main event title matches had everything a fight fan could want. One, in particular, saw Canadian fighter Rory “Red King” MacDonald challenging “Ruthless” Robbie Lawler for the welterweight title in their second meeting.
MacDonald vs. Lawler II
The co-main event was one of the bloodiest fights in recent memory, and was as much a test of will as it was a test of meat and bone. It was Lawler’s first title defense after taking the belt from Johny “Bigg Rigg” Hendricks back in December. Canadian fight fans have been following Rory MacDonald since the B.C. boy came into the UFC, and with the retirement of Georges St. Pierre (vacating the welterweight title in the process), they’ve been hungry for another Canadian champion.
From the outset, the fight seemed to be Lawler’s to win. While both men were cautious in the first round, MacDonald really took a beating in the second. Lawler busted MacDonald’s nose early in the match, and MacDonald suffered a broken foot as well. But, as in boxing, one good shot in the UFC is all it takes to change the game. For MacDonald, that came with a high kick late in the third round, which sapped the champ and gave MacDonald a chance to pick Lawler apart with precision strikes. Lawler was saved by the bell, and he staggered to his corner.
In the fourth round, MacDonald went back to work, landing vicious kicks to the head and following up with heavy hands to the face. But Lawler has proven time and again why he’s one of the best fighters in his division, and by the end of the fourth round, MacDonald’s face was a bloody, pulpy mess. Lawler wasn’t looking so good either, as he was sporting an ugly split on his upper lip that seemed to go all the way back to his teeth. There was this amazing moment at the end of the fourth round where both men stood and stared at one another, snorting blood and defiant. It seemed they had fought to a draw, with each taking the best the other had to offer. When the fifth round began, nobody knew what was going to happen.
Both men were hurting. Both were determined. But it was Lawler’s striking that won out, as he landed a heavy glove on MacDonald’s already broken nose, further smashing it. MacDonald buckled from the pain, and the fight was over.
Still jacked from the fights, I went home and live-tweeted some coverage of the post-event interviews. UFC Emperor Dana White was out-of-his mind-excited about the evening, hailing the Lawler-MacDonald tilt as one of the greatest fights in the history of the company. He also talked about how Macdonald was so beat up after the fight he didn’t even know what year it was. Later, a photo of Lawler and MacDonald appeared on social media with the two men hugging like warrior brothers after their patch-ups at the hospital. It seemed such a civil moment after their bloodbath in the ring.
Around the welterweight division
It’s been said that Lawler just can’t be in a boring fight, and his dynamic style has made him a fan favourite. The Las Vegas crowd was certainly behind the American champion, but, had that match been held north of the border, it would have been a different story. MacDonald has been hailed as a future champion for years now, and with his friend Georges St. Pierre out of the way (but who could come out of retirement at any time), he knows it is his time to seize the title and the glory that comes with it. There will definitely be a rematch between these two in the future, although we can expect to give them a bit of time to heal up before they get in the octagon again. I also wonder if that nose of MacDonald will ever heal right, from the amount of damage it took.
Lawler still has Hendricks to deal with, as each fighter has now beaten the other to win the title. Things are far from settled between those two men, and a rubber match seems to be in the cards in the future. Carlos Condit is back as well, a fighter who gave GSP a serious run for the title and who came off knee surgery.
And let’s not forget that incoming WWE phenom Phil “CM Punk” Brooks is still out there getting ready for a welterweight run in the UFC. Brooks has been hard at work getting himself ready for UFC combat since he left the WWE over concerns that the organization was making him work while injured, and that some of the other wrestlers (Ryback in particular) lacked the skill in the ring necessary to avoid causing serious injuries. Time will tell if Brooks is cut out for the UFC, but it will be interesting to see how he reacts to opponents who are trying to injure him on purpose.
All of this shows the strength of the welterweight roster in the UFC, one of the best divisions in the company at the moment (maybe THE best), and there are still a lot of great stories yet to be told.
A call to action
Closer to home, the Taber Combative Sports Commission is still looking for volunteers. I’m a big fan of combat sports, so I put my name in and am a sitting member.
Now, I know I’m not the only fight fan out there – I’ve been to the bars in Taber on the weekend!
I think it would be awesome to have events here in town where you could grab a beer and get ringside for some real action. Boxing, wrestling, martial arts – you name it. Can you think of a better way to spend a Friday or Saturday night? SO COME ON. Let’s get on this!
You can find information on volunteering for the commission on the Town of Taber website. We need people. We need you, fight fans!