After injuries have cost the UFC several main event bouts this year, they aren’t taking any chances with UFC 189.

Setting up Plan B

After news of UFC featherweight champion Jose Aldo breaking a rib during training broke out last week, the UFC was once again put in scramble mode. However, after confirming that Aldo only suffered a bruised rib following a wayward kick in sparring, UFC President Dana White declared that the UFC 189 main event between Aldo and #3 ranked contender Conor McGregor will push thru as scheduled. And while Aldo has also stated that he has every intention to fight McGregor on July 11, the UFC has set up an insurance policy.

#1 ranked featherweight Chad Mendes has agreed to be the back-up fighter and will fight McGregor on short notice for the interim featherweight crown if Aldo is unable to compete. Mendes took a flight to Las Vegas last Wednesday to finalize the deal. As part of the agreement, the UFC also announced that Mendes will be paid whether he will actually fight McGregor or not.

Money over McGregor

Aldo opened as a slight -140 favorite when the betting lines opened but after news of his injury, Aldo has dropped to as high as a +118 underdog in some books. On the other hand, McGregor is currently going as a -120 favorite to dethrone the injured Brazilian champion. However, the same cannot be said if McGregor will be facing Mendes instead of Jose Aldo.

As soon as he was named as the stand-by guy, Mendes opened as a -130 favorite over McGregor who was at +100. The reason for this is because of Mendes’ fighting style. An Aldo-McGregor bout would have been a striking duel between two of the best strikers in the featherweight division but a McGregor-Mendes bout could end up in the ground because of Mendes’ elite wrestling background, not to mention his punching power.

Who takes it?

Aldo-McGregor would be a pick ‘em fight right now because of Aldo’s injury. It’s not certain what the champion has done, if at all, while recuperating and he will not be physically 100% in two weeks’ time. However, if this goes down to Mendes against McGregor, the back-up guy may be the better pick.

Mendes is a former NCAA All-American wrestler at Cal-Poly and will be the first true wrestler McGregor has ever fought. Mendes has fought Aldo twice for the title, losing the first by KO and then taking Aldo to the limit in their rematch at UFC 179 which was later named as Fight of the Year. Aldo was no match for Mendes on the ground and Mendes became the first fighter to drop Aldo. Although he lost the rematch, it was close and could have gone either way. McGregor is an elite striker but the big question mark is if he can fight on his back. Remember that Chris Weidman put away Vitor Belfort easily after taking the Phenom to the ground. Like Mendes, Weidman was a former NCAA All-American wrestler who faced one of the best strikers in the history of the sport in Belfort.

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