UFC 189 Fight Breakdown: Conor McGregor vs. Chad Mendes

Conor McGregor 3 The main event of UFC 189 is a five-round interim featherweight title fight between Conor McGregor and Chad Mendes. Mendes took the fight on two week’s notice, subbing in for an injured Jose Aldo. According to the current betting lines available at Several Bookmakers, McGregor is a -155 favorite (bet $155 to win $100) while Mendes is a +135 underdog (bet $100 to win $135). MMA oddsmaker Nick Kalikas opened up Mendes at -130 and McGregor at +100, and money has since come in on the popular McGregor. This is a very tough fight to call, but I slightly lean towards McGregor to win the interim featherweight title. Here’s why. McGregor (17-2) is one of the top featherweights in the world. The 26-year-old Irishman is 5-0 in the UFC with wins over Dustin Poirier, Dennis Siver, Marcus Brimage, Max Holloway and Diego Brandao, and he looked impressive in each fight. McGregor has huge knockout power for his weight class, having won 15 fight via T/KO in his career. He is very accurate with his punches and has big knockout power in his fists, and he also has a very nice kicking game. He hasn’t been hit much in his career yet, but from what we have seen he has a decent chin. McGregor’s wrestling has really improved over the years as well. In his early career he was taken down and submitted twice, but he’s really worked hard to improve that part of his game in recent years. He showed great offensive takedown ability against Holloway and he showed nice takedown defence in his fight with Siver. He’s also shown a good gas tank in all of his fights. Make no mistake about it, though, this man is a striker. He is extremely dangerous on the feet and he will be looking to knock Mendes out in this fight to capture the UFC interim featherweight title, and finally get a shot at the champ Aldo. Mendes (17-2) has been an elite featherweight for several years now. The 30-year-old American is 8-2 in the UFC and is coming off of a brutal knockout win over Ricardo Lamas in his last fight. A wrestler by trade, Mendes has worked hard to improve his striking in recent years. He used to be lost at the feet, but now he’s one of the most dangerous knockout artists in the division. He is an extremely-explosive athlete and is able to hurt and drop most guys in his weight class. He is definitely a wrestler at heart, though, and he has some of the best takedown ability in the division, if not the best. There is no one that could take Mendes down at 145lbs except for possibly Frankie Edgar, and in a division full of wrestlers, that is saying a lot. For the most part he has shown a good chin, and his cardio is very solid as well. Mendes’ flaw has come in his striking defence as in both of his fights with Aldo he was outstruck. He was knocked out with a knee the first time they met, then in the second fight lost a close decision because he took more damage. Other than that, though, Mendes has been nothing but sensational in the UFC. He’s taking this fight on short notice against McGregor, which is risky, but if he can win the fight he’ll earn a rematch with Aldo and you know that’s what he wants. This is a really tough fight to call, one with so many question marks. Let’s start with McGregor. The biggest question is, can he stop Mendes’ takedowns? I would argue he can, but I don’t really have any tangible evidence to say so for sure because he simply hasn’t fought a wrestler of Mendes’ caliber in his whole career. A secondary question would be, can McGregor take Mendes’ best shots on the feet? Again, I’m assuming he has a pretty stout chin but it hasn’t really been tested yet so that’s more or less a guess. Now let’s talk about Mendes. The first question about him is what kind of shape is he in? He took this fight on incredibly-short notice and while Mendes is the kind of guy who is always in good shape, at the same time you have to wonder how the weight cut will go given the time he has to cut it. The next question about Mendes is, can he outstrike McGregor if this fight stays standing? We know he has big knockout power, but can he deal with McGregor’s reach? It’s just really hard to say. Ultimately I lean slightly towards McGregor to win this fight because he’s had three months to prepare for this card and I expect him to show up in incredible shape. But it’s not something I’m willing to bet on. I’m surprised so many people are betting on this fight. I just don’t see any edges in betting this one, so I recommend passing it completely and looking for other fights on the card to bet on, fights with less red flags an question marks. That being said, Mendes vs. McGregor is an amazing fight on paper and I can’t wait to watch it; it’s going to be a good one.

Written by Adam Martin.

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