Fans, and media members were shocked last week when news broke that long-time featherweight champion Jose Aldo had suffered a rib fracture, just weeks ahead of his mega fight against Conor McGregor which was slated for UFC 189 on July 11, 2015.
Fans were then relieved to find out that it was just a bone bruise, and the fight was still on. More news then broke that “Scarface” indeed fractured his rib, but once again, the fight was still on. UFC president Dana White and UFC CEO Lorenzo Fertitta both said early yesterday (June 30, 2015) that they were confident the fight would go on as planned, and that’s why fans were so disappointed when White appeared on Sports Center to announce that Aldo was officially out, and that emergency standby, former title challenger and top-ranked featherweight Chad “Money” Mendes would step in to face McGregor for an interim belt.
It’s completely understandable why fans would be disappointed. After months and months of bad blood, relentless hype and continuous promotion, fans were at the edge of their seats waiting to see the dominant champion meet the Irish bad boy. However, the replacement fight we have been given may not be so bad after all, and it may show us a thing or two about the “Notorious” one.
First off, Mendes is one of the best featherweights in the world, and the fight is simply an intriguing one. The two also have had some bad blood of their own in the past, so there is a back story as well. The interesting thing here, is that in my opinion, “Money” will be able to answer some questions that fans and media members have about McGregor, something I don’t believe “Scarface” would have done.
The Irishmen’s rise to the top of the sport has been like nothing else we’ve ever seen and although he has looked spectacular in the Octagon, his outspoken, and brash personality has absolutely helped his rise, and some have even said that he has had an easy road to a title shot.
In the UFC, McGregor has taken out Marcus Brimage, Max Holloway, Diego Brandao, Dustin Poirier, and Dennis Siver, with four of those wins coming by finish. Now, would this hit list garner a title shot for a less vocal guy then McGregor? It’s hard to say.
Not to take any credit away from the “Notorious” one, as Poirier was a top five fighter at the time the two met, Holloway has emerged as a contender, and Siver was a top-10 fighter at the time, but some believe that McGregor may have avoided some of the 145-pound division’s elite on his way to a title shot, and they may be right.
Well for one, Mendes will provide the true test of a top level 145-pounder. I don’t think anyone would disagree with the fact that “Money” is one of the best in the world, and if McGregor can beat him, he undoubtedly deserves a shot at Aldo.
Another thought is that it’s no secret that McGregor is a striker, possessing lethal power and unpredictability. He is a knockout machine, and some have criticized him for, just like avoiding the featherweight elite, avoiding the division’s best wrestlers, notably Mendes and Frankie Edgar. That being said, this fight will finally show all of those fans how McGregor deals with a high level wrestler. Will he be put on his back? Will he be able to defend the takedown? Those are all questions that Mendes may be able to answer for us, unlike the champion, who probably would have struck with the “Notorious” one.
At the end of the day, we have every right to be bummed out. After all the hype, it’s a heartbreaker that the fight was scrapped just over a week before it was set to go down. However, after the initial disappointment, the replacement bout may not be all that bad after all.