Updated UFC 189 Fighter Grades

Gunnar Nelson 2Jay Primetown gives his thoughts on each of the fighters who competed at UFC 189 in Las Vegas, Nevada and updates his letter grades on each. Jay gives his letter grades for each fighter on TheMMA-Analysis podcast which can be found on MMAOddsbreaker.com Yosdenis Cedeno vs. Cody Pfister Cedeno: Offensively he’s dangerous, but conditioning and grappling are simply not good enough to compete in the UFC. Downgraded from D+ to D Pfister: Decent wrestling and a good motor is good enough to beat many in the lower rungs in the division. Ceiling is still low. Upgraded from F to D   Neil Seery vs. Louis Smolka Seery: Skilled boxer, but forcing fight to the mat was the difference between him winning and losing tonight. Downgraded from C- to D+ Smolka: Grappling looks promising with some variety in submissions. Has some real holes when forced to box on the feet. Grade remains C-   Henry Briones vs. Cody Garbrandt Briones: Showed some real heart facing a real good prospect. Did well in this fight despite being outclassed. Upgraded to D+ from D Garbrandt: Easily won the fight, but it was the first time in his career he was unable to finish his opponent. I don’t want to read too much into it, but it’s certainly something to keep an eye on. Grade remains C+   John Howard vs. Cathal Pendred Howard: Range a real problem for him, but he’s a solid veteran that can compete with anyone in the bottom half of the division. Upgraded from D+ to C- Pendred: When not able to push opponent against the cage, his skillset does not resemble a UFC fighter. Grade remains D+   Alex Garcia vs. Mike Swick Garcia: Offensive wrestling is good to very good, but doesn’t use it enough. Length at this division may hold him back.  Grade remains C Swick: Has a decent jab, but takedown defense is terrible. Will struggle against anyone with even a modest grappling game. The sport has passed him by. Downgraded from D+ to D   Matt Brown vs. Tim Means Brown: The epitomy of a fighter. Not too physically gifted, but tough as nails and will take it to any fighter. He used a balanced technique to beat a surging Tim Means. Upgraded from B to B+ Means: Showed that he could compete with Matt Brown, but lacks the variety in his tool box to make adjustments to beat elite fighters. Grade remains C+   Thomas Almeida vs. Brad Pickett Almeida: Offensively he has a hall of fame caliber skill-set, but has some real holes in his striking defense that will come back to cost him against better fighters. With that said, he’s a dangerous opponent for anyone in the division. Upgraded from B- to B Pickett: Showed that he’s not washed out and can still compete with high level talent. Speed / awareness not where it was, but his boxing is good enough to win in the UFC. Grade remains C   Gunnar Nelson vs. Brandon Thatch Nelson: Real improvements made in his striking which makes him a much more dangerous fighter. On the ground, he’s as good a threat as anyone in the sport to finish his opponents. Upgraded from C+ to B- Thatch: Not sure what happened, but this was by far his worst performance in the Octagon. Thatch was dropped by a fighter in a standup exchange in which he had a huge advantage. On the ground, Thatch is still a novice at best. Lots of holes and good opponents can figure them out. Downgraded from B- to C+   Dennis Bermudez vs. Jeremy Stephens Bermudez: Capable of mixing of striking and grappling, but gets himself in brawls where his chin has a difficult time holding up. I think he’s hit his peak as a fighter and could now be headed for a decline. Downgraded from B+ to B Stephens: Missed weight after a difficult cut and struggled at times with Bermudez’s wrestling prowess. In the traditional stand up, Stephens had the power and variety to trouble Bermudez regularly ultimately finishing him in the third round. Grade remains B   Robbie Lawler vs. Rory Macdonald Lawler: In an all-time classic, Lawler overcame adversity being nearly put in the away in the 3rd round to finish his opponent in the final round. He was down on the scorecards heading into the fifth round making it an even more impressive feat. Lawler has vulnerabilities, but his determination is at the apex of the sport. Grade remains A. Macdonald: Some have questioned Macdonald in the past, but how he fought after his nose was broken early in this fight is something out of a fiction book. He was only a few minutes away from winning the championship, but Lawler snatched it away from him. One has to wonder how Macdonald returns after what will require significant surgery. Grade remains A   Conor McGregor vs. Chad Mendes McGregor: Defensive wrestling is still a vulnerability, but his ability to pressure opponents and land with accuracy on the feet is as good as anyone in the sport. Floored Mendes with a left forcing Herb Dean to stop the fight awarding western Europe its first male UFC Champion. Upgraded from A to A+ Mendes: Not sure if it was an adrenaline dump, a short camp, or body damage from early in the fight, but conditioning did not hold up for Mendes. The American was on his way to winning the first two rounds until he attempted a submission which allowed McGregor the opportunity to get back to his feet to capitalize on a winded Mendes. One has to wonder if the result would have been different had Mendes been given a full training camp to prepare.  Grade remains A+

Written by Jay Primetown

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