One of the most anticipated fights of 2015 has finally arrived as Conor McGregor and Chad Mendes headline UFC 189 on Saturday in their bids to claim the interim UFC featherweight championship.
Co-anchoring the event is a bout between UFC welterweight champion Robbie Lawler and Rory MacDonald. Lawler hopes to defend his title against the top contender at Las Vegas’ MGM Grand.
The Notorious was dismayed to learn Jose Aldo’s rib injury would prevent him from taking part in Saturday’s showdown, but Mendes brings a similar allure in what promises to be a top-class clash.
Read on for an in-depth look at UFC 189’s pay-per-view fight card and schedule, along with predictions for how the drama will unfold between McGregor and Mendes in their search for the top prize.
McGregor at Risk of Shell Shock from Biggest Challenge Yet
It’s well-founded that McGregor’s persona and mesmerising microphone ability are part of what makes him such a draw to the Ultimate Fighting Championship and thus why his rise has been quite so swift.
The Irishman is only five fights deep in his UFC career but hasn’t been beaten since 2010 during his days with Cage Warriors. Bet365 illustrated his four-year winning streak, where his stopping power stands out as a supreme advantage:
That being said, Mendes is like no challenger McGregor has faced. Although the California native is at home on the ground, where he enjoys employing his wrestling talent, his stand-up game isn’t the weakness some would suggest.
UFC fighter and fellow former Cage Warrior Dan Hardy wrote for the Independent this week, outlining his belief that Mendes will be like no combatant McGregor has encountered:
Fighting out of the famed Team Alpha Male in San Jose, Mendes is a short, powerful athlete, very explosive and fast, with a right hand that has put many men to sleep. But it’s his wrestling ability that he believes will be too much for the Irish hero.
It is true that McGregor has not yet been tested by a high level wrestler, but of the takedowns he has faced, he’s stopped every one.
Mendes will be of a standard so much higher than that of McGregor’s last opponent, veteran Dennis Siver, and if Mendes is able to get in close, there’s every chance he’ll come out on top.
Evasive manoeuvres and the skill of escaping tight situations have proved to be something of a forte for McGregor, though, and the longer Saturday’s fight drags on, the more one might be inclined to favour his chances.
“Notorious” Victory Shows Size Does Matter
Mixed martial arts is a beautiful battleground in that David will always have at least some chance against Goliath—not that the three-inch difference between Mendes and McGregor is quite deserving of that billing.
It was clear just how this advantage runs in McGregor’s favour, however, when the pair clashed at Friday’s weigh-in, which the official UFC Twitter account showed as being quite the heated encounter:
Mendes has overcome taller opponents in past UFC fights, with Cody McKenzie, Darren Elkins and Yaotzin Meza all 5’9″ or above and each boasting a sizeable reach advantage over the American.
But none have possessed the reach of McGregor at 74 inches (188 centimetres), a full eight inches greater than Mendes, which is a daunting prospect up against one of the best strikers in the land.
Despite the rowdy aura he may emit in front of a camera or in interviews, McGregor has shown the propensity to bring about a calm during his fights, which will be critical come Saturday night.
Mendes will struggle to muster many a takedown against his wiry foe, and if McGregor is triumphant in keeping his opponent at range, the belt will be as good as his.
Fight Prediction: Conor McGregor wins via third-round TKO.
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