UFC 189: Mendes vs. McGregor took place on Saturday night at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in las Vegas. The card was thought to have taken a major blow when featherweight champion Jose Aldo had to withdraw from the fight due to a rib injury.
When all was said and done, however, most onlookers believed the card delivered above and beyond what could have realistically been expected.
One man in particular surpassed many expectations.
Conor McGregor had never faced a wrestling specialist the caliber of Chad Mendes. He got taken down at UFC 189. He ate several hard elbows. He got punched in the face. And, yet, he won the fight, surviving all of that and finishing Mendes in the closing moments of the second round.
His effort not only earned the win and the interim UFC featherweight championship, it also earned McGregor one of the Performance of the Night bonuses, which is accompanied by a $50,000 bonus.
The other Performance of the Night bonus went to Thomas Almeida, who mounted a come-from-behind knockout victory over Brad Pickett early in round two. The fight cemented Almeida’s status as one of the fastest rising talents in the UFC.
By the end of the show, the Fight of the Night award was a no-brainer. The momentum-shifting battle between UFC welterweight champion Robbie Lawler and Rory MacDonald wasn’t to be outdone. Lawler took control of the fight early, but just when it seemed the fight was his to lose, MacDonald stormed back.
And just when MacDonald looked close to finishing it, Lawler dug deep and bloodied his Canadian foe, eventually dropping and stopping him in the beginning of round five.