The most-anticipated fight in the UFC is no more. UFC president Dana White confirmed on Tuesday evening that UFC featherweight champion Jose Aldo, who has a rib injury, is officially out of his UFC 189 fight opposite Conor McGregor. In his place against the Irishman will be Chad Mendes, who will take on McGregor July 11 at MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada, for the UFC interim featherweight title. The Mendes vs. McGregor bout will serve as the main event of the evening. First off, it’s extremely disappointing the Aldo vs. McGregor bout is no more. This was the most-anticipated fight of the year in MMA and stylistically it was going to be an absolute barnburner. But MMA is a rough sport where injuries happen and unfortunately the champion can no longer go on. Thankfully, though, the replacement fight is just as good, although obviously not as hyped. Mendes is an amazing fighter who gave Aldo fits just two fights ago and he’s coming off of a brutal KO win over Ricardo Lamas. Mendes is the next-best guy in the division not named Aldo and so it makes sense that he got the call for this interim title fight against McGregor, although Frankie Edgar of course could have got the nod as well. Either way, Mendes vs. McGregor is a terrific fight, and could even turn out better than Aldo vs. McGregor would have. The odds for Mendes vs. McGregor were released earlier this week, with Mendes a -130 favorite and McGregor a +100 underdog. Early action has come in on McGregor, as the line now stands at a Pick ’em, -115 for each man. Clearly, there are split opinions on this fight. Some believe that Mendes will be able to outwrestle McGregor, but others believe McGregor will be able to get to Mendes on the feet. It’s really hard to say what camp is going to be right, and that’s what makes this such an intriguing fight, it’s just so close and competitive and hard to call. Me personally, I’m leaning slightly towards McGregor. The short notice doesn’t help Mendes out and Mendes, for all his talent, has been knocked out before, by Aldo. If McGregor can get to Mendes’ chin, he may very well be able to knock him out as well. He also has a nice eight-inch reach advantage in this fight, a height advantage, and he has had a full camp to train for this date. Having said that, I’m not confident at all in McGregor here, as Mendes could very well look to wrestle him for the win and we simply haven’t seen McGregor’s takedown defence tested. It’s just really hard to say how this one plays out, and that’s what makes it such a compelling matchup, one that should be a terrific way to end what is a stacked UFC 189 card.
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