No matter the opponent, bettors are backing their man Conor McGregor at UFC 189. Here’s the latest on his interim title fight with Chad Mendes.
McGregor was originally slated as an underdog against Aldo, moved to a -150 favorite before that bout was scrapped due to Aldo’s rib injury. Now, McGregor is a -145 favorite against Mendes, and more than 60 percent of bettors are currently backing the brash Irishman.
(Update, July 6: McGregor is now a -170 favorite with 75 percent of bettors backing him at Sports Interaction.)
Whether that support’s coming as a result of McGregor’s public persona or his ability in the octagon may be questioned. That said, despite his soundbites, you can’t take McGregor’s results or his confidence away from him.
“I have been in fight camp since I am eight years of age. I am prepared for this,” he began. “I have been preparing for this moment for a long, long time. I don’t really pay attention to how long he’s had or how long he hasn’t had.”
UFC 189: Conor McGregor vs. Chad Mendes
There’s no doubt Mendes has his work cut out for him. He took this fight on three weeks’ notice and that in itself is a difficult hurdle to get past against anyone in the Ultimate Fighting Championship – let alone Conor McGregor – but you’d be crazy to count Mendes out.
“I think my striking is going to be there. Conor has never faced anyone like me,” Mendes told reporters. “I have the athleticism, the strength, the power, the speed. And, I have wrestling to put him on his back and finish this fight. This fight is mine.”
Mendes prides himself in staying in shape so cutting the weight to 145 pounds shouldn’t be that much of an issue considering his experience as a wrestler. It’s that wrestling background that many feel could be the difference against McGregor, who hasn’t faced a strong grappler of Mendes’ caliber yet in his MMA career. Plus, in 19 career fights, Mendes has just two losses – both against Aldo.
As much as the UFC hates it, you just can’t get away from Aldo even though he isn’t even coming to UFC 189 anymore.
If the key to McGregor vs. Mendes is grappling, that’s exactly what everyone said in Aldo’s two wins over Mendes. Aldo took damage in those fights, but completely dominated Mendes in a first-round knockout and a unanimous decision. Now, after Mendes and his wrestling background couldn’t get it done against Aldo, he faces McGregor, another big, dynamic striker.
It’s hard to know who has the advantage in the main event now. Is it McGregor, who has been training for a title fight for months, but also training for a completely different opponent? Or is it Mendes, who certainly has the edge on the mat, but needs to cut weight quickly and head to the octagon without a proper training camp?
One way or another, a second featherweight belt will awarded July 11 while Jose Aldo watches on. After that, the next step is getting him healthy and in the octagon to unify the this title as soon as possible.