The UFC 189 PPV event is set to take place at the MGM Grand Garden Arena on Saturday night in Las Vegas with Chad Mendes taking on Conor McGregor for the UFC interim featherweight title. It’s not the huge fight that Jose Aldo vs. Conor McGregor would have been, but it’s the type of stylistic fight I’ve been waiting for to see McGregor perform.
Mendes (17-2) comes into this fight with only 2 career losses, both to UFC featherweight champion Jose Aldo. Mendes was knocked out in their first encounter in the first round, but offered a 5 round war against Aldo in their rematch.
McGregor (17-2) comes into this fight with the same record, but both losses came within the first six bouts of his career. He hasn’t lost since 2010 and has 15 of his 17 wins TKO/KO. The only time McGregor has gone to a judges decision was against Max Holloway in 2013.
There is immense hype surrounding Conor McGregor, however, every fighter has a blue print to be beaten and McGregor is no different.
McGregor is great at talking smack and getting opponents emotionally involved in fighting his type of fight much like Anderson Silva used to with his in cage antics. That’s part of the battle in itself, but McGregor also excels at dictating the pace in a fight. He is usually the aggressor and takes the center of the cage while forcing his opponents to circle with their back close to the cage. This why he’s able to use the fight angles that you hear him talk about in his interviews. At that point, it’s all about him being offensive and fighting from ranges that he’s comfortable at while forcing his opponents to fight from a defense shell.
How Mendes can get it done.
Chad Mendes must pressure Conor McGregor and force him to fight with his back to the cage and/or moving backwards. He MUST be the stalker in this fight. I’m not saying charge in wildly the way Cat Zingano did against Ronda Rousey, but a calculated aggression that forces McGregor to be more defensive.
A gameplan similar to the one that Cain Velasquez used in the second and third fights against Junior dos Santos, or the gameplan Daniel Cormier used to stifle Anthony Johnson a few weeks ago. I wouldn’t sell out for the takedown right away the way Velasquez did, but close the distance and forcing McGregor to defend is the way to go. McGregor can’t use his kicks or the straight left from close quarters which is the majority of his offense.
If Mendes implores this type of game plan it obviously puts McGregor in an uncomfortable spot that he’s not used to. I do think McGregor would have a puncher’s chance in catching Mendes coming in, but I think McGregor’s power is largely overstated. He doesn’t have one punch KO power, and most of his TKO wins are from a accumulation of damage. Also, Mendes has shown great ability to recover when hurt in the rematch against Jose Aldo.
McGregor will be looking to land an uppercut or knee as Mendes looks to close the distance. If Mendes can avoid those pitfalls, he should be able to get it done on Saturday night if he’s in shape. That hasn’t been an issue for him in the past and Team Alpha Male fighters are usually well conditioned fighters.
Who do you have on Saturday night?