With Jose Aldo out thanks to a broken rib and Chad Mendes stepping in to face Conor McGregor for the interim featherweight championship in the main event of this Saturday night’s (July 11, 2015) UFC 189 from Las Vegas, Nevada, the stage is set for one of the biggest mixed martial arts (MMA) bouts of 2015.

Most sports books have McGregor as the betting favorite to win the placeholder belt and earn a long-awaited shot at Aldo, and given the Irish fan favorite’s reach, fluidity, and striking power, that could definitely go down at the MGM Grand Garden Arena this weekend.

But there are also some areas that the more seasoned Mendes has over ‘Notorious,’’ areas that could potentially play into a ‘Money’ upset at UFC 189. Am I saying that will happen? No, I’m not; I still think this is one of the most unpredictable title fights we’ve seen in some time. But if Mendes were to win, there are five main reasons I believe would factor into his victory. Here they are:

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5.) Experience:

Now before all of you McGregor fans get too fired up, I’ll admit that Mendes didn’t face the best of competition to get to his second title shot against Aldo. He largely ran through a list of mid-level competition with dominant results for the most part.

When he got there, however, he showed that he was without a doubt a world-class fighter. His second match with Aldo was nothing short of spectacular as many fans and media members’ “Fight of the Year” for 2014. He came up just short against the world’s No. 1-ranked pound-for-pound fighter there, but he proved that no other featherweight save for Aldo is on his level when he demolished former title contender Ricardo Lamas in the first round at UFC Fight Night 63 in April.

True, McGregor has destroyed all five of his UFC opponents, but other than Dustin Poirier, who we’ve now found out was badly sapping his body of power in order to make the division’s 145-poud weight limit, ‘Notorious’ has been given opponents tailor made for his style who will stand and strike with him.

Mendes has also been there in championship fights. That gives him the edge in experience on Saturday night. How much that plays into the result remains to be seen.

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4.) Speed:

McGregor is well known for his unique, puzzling movement in the cage that often gives his opponents fits. What he’s not really known for is his hand and foot speed, something that Mendes brings to the table in large amounts. That became evident in his UFC 179 classic with Aldo, where ‘Money’ and the champ traded lightning fast power punches that sometimes had to be seen twice to be seen at all.

At times, it appeared that ‘Money’ was even faster than the lightning-quick Aldo, and his footwork has also come to mimic that of his fleet-footed teammate, UFC bantamweight champion T.J. Dillashaw. McGregor is one of the best strikers in the featherweight division, if not the world; that much is true. But again, he’s also never faced a striker as fast or powerful as Mendes in the octagon. Poirier was in the wrong weight class, and his latest win over Dennis Siver is a laughable comparison.

That could give McGregor problems on Saturday night. Which brings us to our next reason…

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3.) Pressure:

With handpicked opponents who stood and traded with a superior striker in ‘Notorious,’ McGregor was largely able to dictate the pace against all of his UFC opponents and break them down with his reach and power. While that could certainly be the case against Mendes as well, it simply isn’t going to be nearly as easy a gameplan to accomplish this time around.

Mendes puts insane pressure that blends power and speed in an almost-perfect mix on his opponents, and it’s just nothing McGregor has ever faced before. Will he be able to deal with it? He very well might, but it’s a certainty that he’ll be tested in ways unlike any of his other previous UFC bouts.

It’s also true that McGregor’s main advantage over ‘Money’ is his substantial reach advantage, which will no doubt be a problem for Mendes. But his pressuring, non-stop style could help him negate that reach to get inside on ‘Notorious’ and unleash some of his patented bombs or get a takedown. If the fight hits the ground because of Mendes’ pressure, it’s anyone’s guess as to what happens next, but Mendes has never been submitted.

McGregor has been, twice.

Chad Mendes says he's in Jose Aldo's head, and that he welcomes a ...2.) He’s got much less to lose:

This reason is a kind of x-factor that’s hardly if ever discussed in the never-ending lead up to this bout, but it could undoubtedly play a big part in how Mendes fights.

He’s got the rarely seen third title shot two title shots after two losses to the current champ due to Aldo’s rib injury, and as a late replacement for an employer that was scrambling to save the biggest event of the year, Mendes is in the UFC’s good graces.

It was most likely going to take him quite a bit of time to work his way back to a third title shot if something like this did not transpire, so Mendes is kind of on a free roll. He’s fighting a hated opponent that he was aching to get his hands on, and even though it’s only for the interim strap, it’s clear that ‘Money’ was the fighter who benefited from this strange situation the most.

Yes, he’ll be light years away from another title shot if he loses his third in a row, but he probably wasn’t all that close before all of this blew up, so he either wins here and gets his last chance at gold or not. It’s rather cut and dry for him.

On the other side of the coin, McGregor has an absolutely massive amount to lose. He’s been built up as arguably the UFC’s biggest star with endless hype, promotion, endorsements, videos that follow him everywhere, interviews, and so on that he simply has to win here. A loss makes his nonstop trash talk appear to be a bit like hot air, just like Chael Sonnen’s shtick got stale when he never won the huge fights he talked his way into. I’m not saying that McGregor will go the way of Sonnen; he could still climb his way back to title contention even with a loss to Mendes.

But his aura of invincibility would be compromised, and the UFC is banking that ‘Notorious’ stays undefeated and keeps the hype train rolling.

Mendes doesn’t have to worry about any of that. He’s supposed to lose, and that makes him a dangerous man come fight time.

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1.) Wrestling:

The top reason on this list is clearly the most obvious one. While McGregor’s detractors would have you believe that wrestling is his kryptonite, there just isn’t much evidence to suggest that in his UFC body of work as of yet.

He’s also a huge and powerful featherweight, so I think that McGregor’s ability to defend takedowns and get up when he is drug down may be a bit underrated due to his size and strength edge on the diminutive Mendes. However, that’s not to say that he’ll be able to keep Mendes from taking him down and holding him there over a full five-round fight.

‘Money’ is a former NCAA All-American and national championship runner-up at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, and he’s been wrestling his whole life. That’s not something that a few months (or even a few years) of even intense training is going to immediately compensate for, and McGregor’s previous UFC opponents certainly didn’t test his mat acumen.

While Mendes would probably love nothing more than to knock McGregor’s head off with an overhand right or an uppercut, there’s not much sense in winging wild shots against a known striker in his area of expertise. You can bet that Mendes will be looking for takedowns early and often, and for obvious reason.

Will McGregor be able to defend them? He may be able to, he may not, but the outcome of this fight could certainly rest on his ability to keep this fight standing and in his comfort zone. If not, Mendes could certainly be taking him to the bank with a momentous upset at UFC 189.