UFC

All change at UFC 189 but excitement remains

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After a week of confusion and disappointment, we now know that it will be Chad Mendes stepping into the Octagon to face Conor McGregor on July 11 for the interim featherweight title following Jose Aldo’s withdrawal. After suffering a rib injury in training – a break or a bruise, depending on who you believe – Aldo had reportedly been cleared to fight by UFC doctors, only for the Brazilian to pull out a few days later, claiming he wouldn’t be able to get through the final stages of his camp with the problem. Having been placed on stand-by following the current champion’s rib injury, number-one contender Mendes has now been called-up to face McGregor for the interim title, on a packed UFC 189 card in Las Vegas.

UFC 189Despite never having faced a wrestler like Mendes before in the UFC, the former two-weight Cage Warriors champion appears to be going into the fight at around 6/5 with 32Red to beat the American and pick up the interim belt.

 

As well as the intriguing featherweight clash, Robbie Lawler will defend his middleweight strap against Rory MacDonald in the co-main event of the evening, in a fight that has been overlooked by some during the McGregor and Aldo circus. In his first defence of the title, he won from Johny Hendricks at the end of last year, Lawler will take on a MacDonald who has long been tipped to dominate the 185-pound division in a fight that has split many punters betting with the likes of 32Red and UNIBET. While Lawler has a win over the Canadian on his record, MacDonald has looked impressive in his three fights since that split decision loss, taking his UFC record to 9-2. This is a fight that could see an interesting mix of the styles between the brawler and the technician, and on any other card this year there is little doubt this would be the main event.

by  andriuXphoto.events  Caption: Jose Aldo has had to withdraw

by andriuXphoto.events Caption: Jose Aldo has had to withdraw

But argue all you want, this is the Conor McGregor Show, and we’re all going to finally get some answers to those questions as to just how the confident Irishman will handle the wrestling skills and power of Mendes. Ever since making his UFC debut back in the April of 2013, McGregor has gone on an absolute tear through the 145-pound division, knocking out all but one of his opponents, beating Max Holloway on points in a fight that saw the Irishman tear his ACL yet still control the contest. After beating Dennis Siver at the start of 2015, McGregor has been preparing to take on featherweight champion Aldo in a huge clash this summer. It was one which the UFC had spent significant sums in promoting. Rather than wait a couple of months to meet Aldo, though, McGregor has been adamant that he would take on anybody on July 11, opening the door for Mendes to get a third chance at getting his hands on UFC gold.

Mendes has twice lost to Aldo, the most recent occasion coming in October of last year. Having completely destroyed fellow former title challenger Ricardo Lamas in the first round earlier this year, Mendes snapped up the opportunity and is now preparing for a fight he has long called for. Aside from his two defeats to Aldo, Mendes has looked virtually unstoppable in the Octagon, beating a who’s who of the featherweight division and putting himself back in line for a title shot. While some felt it was Frankie Edgar who deserved to be called-up to replace Aldo, Mendes now has the chance to silence one of the most vocal and dividing fighters to have fought in the UFC. McGregor is a man who has taken shots at “Mini Mendes” on more than one occasion.

So while this might not be the main event we thought we were going to get, Aldo’s withdrawal hasn’t had the devastating impact on the card many expected. For McGregor, he now has the chance to not only get his hands on UFC gold and beat a fighter a lot of doubters believe will be the undoing of him, the Irishman also gets to build up the fight with Aldo to even bigger levels than it already was. In the co-main event, Lawler and MacDonald will serve as one of the best starters to a main event in UFC history, coming after a stacked card of match-ups in the fighting capital of the world.

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