So, it’s final: Chad Mendes will face Conor McGregor for the interim UFC featherweight title at the main event of UFC 189 on Saturday at the MGM Grand Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Not the Fight Expected
This was not the fight that the world wanted to see on July 11th because we were all hoping to see Brazilian Jose Aldo defend his UFC featherweight strap against the Irish trash talker Conor McGregor in the culmination of the UFC’s 2015 International Fight Week.
Unfortunately Aldo suffered a rib injury and had to pull out of the title fight. The UFC put #2 ranked featherweight Chad Mendes as standby opponent, hoping that Aldo would heal on time. But that was not meant to be, and what was supposed to be the biggest fight of the year has turned into an enigmatic matchup which could exceed our expectations.
The fact that Chad Mendes agreed to take this fight before even asking his pay, not to mention the fact that he took it in two weeks notice, shows how badly Chad “Money” Mendes wants to win that title. And why not? Mendes has lost twice in his attempt to wrest the belt away from Aldo and with a lot of contenders climbing up the ladder, this title shot was a gift of sorts.
Mendes has vowed to finish-off McGregor in three rounds and has not forgotten the insults on his height made by the brash Irishman last year. McGregor has continued to discount Mendes as a “replacement B-level fighter” who is nothing but a stepping stone to his greatness. McGregor likewise predicted that he will tire out Mendes before taking him lights out.
Who Takes This?
When it was first announced that Chad Mendes would likely take over Jose Aldo’s spot in the main event of UFC 189, he was installed as the favorite when the betting lines opened. The reason was because of Mendes’ wrestling base which experts felt will give McGregor a lot of problems. But as the scrap was finalized, McGregor slowly settled as the slight favorite at -160 while Mendes a very live underdog at +130.
If Aldo-McGregor was going to be a straight-up striking duel, Mendes will most definitely take McGregor to the ground because his ground defense is suspect. In recent interviews, Mendes said that he intends to strike with McGregor for one round to let the Irishman feel his power. From there, he plans on taking the fight to the ground and submitting McGregor.
But that is easier said than done against McGregor, who’s knocked out his last three opponents and four out of five overall in his UFC career. McGregor hasn’t lost in 13 fights and has been on a unparalleled run to fame. It remains to be seen how the change of opponents has affected his preparation and mindset coming to Saturday.
If Mendes does indeed hurt McGregor with his first punch, then we might be in for a surprise from Chad Mendes. Otherwise, Conor McGregor will just continue his march to the title and lead the Irish Invasion of the UFC.
*photo via via sherdog.com