UFC featherweight champion Jose Aldo was unable to overcome a rib injury and has now bowed out of his blockbuster title defense at UFC 189. Now, top contender Chad Mendes will face McGregor for the interim featherweight title July 11.
BREAKING: Jose Aldo pulls out of UFC 189. Conor McGregor will now fight Chad Mendes for interim title. pic.twitter.com/5LVM3AGZLV— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) July 1, 2015
Aldo was injured June 23 when a teammate kicked him in the ribs during a training session. Subsequent reports were hazy and sometimes conflicting, but after Aldo's camp initially pledged to go through with the fight, the news came earlier Tuesday that Aldo was not training at his normal level and might be putting off a final decision on whether to fight.
It seems the other shoe has now fallen.
The news has to be a major blow to Aldo (25-1), one of the best fighters on Earth who has developed what appears to be a real grudge with McGregor, the Irish upstart whose charisma and candor have put him on a fast track to MMA stardom.
Mendes was named last week as a sort of "Plan B" for the event if Aldo was unable to go. Mendes is currently the No. 1 featherweight in the UFC's official rankings and is 17-2 as a pro, including an 8-2 mark in the UFC. His only two professional losses both came to Aldo.
Though fans may be understandably disappointed, Mendes vs. McGregor has the potential to be a terrific main event.
McGregor brings knockout power in all of his limbs and has brilliant combinations, movement and cardio. Mendes, an All-American as a wrestler in college, has a vicious wrestle-boxing game, punctuated by a stand-up attack that has markedly improved in his last few bouts.