Now that Jose Aldo is out of UFC 189, it’s time to make new predictions about who will win the UFC Interim Featherweight Championship Belt.
The news of Aldo’s withdrawal was a rather disappointing turn of events after months of intense anticipation for the fight. However, the new interim title fight between Mendes and McGregor will still make for a good night in Vegas.
This new matchup is definitely going to present a different kind of fight than we were expecting, but it should be fun and interesting nonetheless. On first glance, many people think McGregor will have the upper hand, but Mendes is quickly becoming the favorite. Let’s break down the two opponents.
Weight: 145 lbs.
Height: 5’ 6”
Weight: 145 lbs.
Height: 5’ 9”
With takedowns twice the usual rate and a high success rate at that, Mendes is without a doubt dominant on the mat. The question though is will Mendes be able to take down McGregor? I definitely think it’s a strong possibility.
McGregor has been able to defend 100% of the takedowns against him. Then again, he hasn’t really faced strong enough competitors that have the explosiveness to close the distance on him. Mendes will certainly test McGregor in this category, and it should be interesting to see how it plays out.
McGregor’s superior striking game will be a tough match for Mendes. He is a precise power striker with exceptional accuracy and knockdown power.
While Mendes’ lethal weapon is takedowns, McGregor’s is his left hand. Mendes falls short in the striking category except for one metric, his jab accuracy, which he uses at a reserved pace.
Keep in mind McGregor has a reach advantage of 8 inches on Mendes. Sure, Mendes has fought most of his fights at a reach disadvantage, but never by this much. Because of this, Mendes might not use the jab as much. But the advantage for Mendes is that he has the best strike defense rating in the division, avoiding 71% of strikes.
I think we can all agree McGregor likes to try to get in his opponents’ heads. How effective his trash-talking is can’t exactly be measured, but I would imagine it has at least some relevance to his victories. It’s an interesting tactic to put forth so much effort into using your words as a weapon, but that’s McGregor’s style.
In this scenario, with Aldo out and Mendes in, McGregor won’t really have much time to try to get in Mendes’ head. That certainly hasn’t kept him from running his mouth though, as he claims the fight will be over within four minutes of the first round.
Will this affect Mendes? Probably not. He’s had his share of cutting remarks too. After all, he believes McGregor will either get knocked out, tap out or just cry for five rounds. I think he’ll take McGregor’s smack talk with a grain of salt (and vice versa) and head into the ring confident and ready to dominate.
Both Mendes and McGregor have impressive records. Interestingly enough, both of Mendes’ losses were to Aldo. McGregor’s losses speak volumes to Mendes. On both occasions, he submitted in the first round and couldn’t even make it to the two minute mark.
McGregor has been heavily preparing for this night but, even with the last minute change, Mendes will come in well-prepared as well. McGregor likes his chances, to be expected, but Mendes will give him a taste of something he hasn’t seen before. There’s no denying that he’s one of the toughest opponents McGregor will face.
For now, Mendes is seen as the slight underdog, but I’m expecting that to change as we get closer to fight night. As we’ve seen in the past, anything can happen. Both fighters are tough acts to beat, and I’m not selling either of them short. Although this isn’t the fight we expected, there’s no doubt it will be a thrilling night.
I’ve always been one to go for the underdog so I’m predicting a victory for Chad Mendes.
Who do you think will come out on top?
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