Conor McGregor’s rapid ascent to the summit of UFC’s featherweight division was curtailed when champion Jose Aldo pulled out of their Las Vegas bout scheduled for this weekend.
The Brazilian grappler’s broken ribs have forced him to withdraw from the title scrap, with Chad Mendes parachuted in to take his place.
As disappointing as missing out on a rumble with Aldo obviously is, Irish pounder McGregor’s date with ‘Money’ Mendes promises to be his most difficult challenge to date.
Indeed, the American has only lost twice in a nine-fight UFC career, with both defeats coming against the man whose shoes he’s filling here.
Looking at his ledger as a whole, he’s fought 19 times across different brands and has never been bested on home soil.
The Vegas judges are fond of him too – three of his four Sin City skirmishes have been decided in his favour by a unanimous call.
Despite all of this, Mendes will step into the ring as a sizeable 27/20 underdog, next to the 53/100 favouring the Emerald Isle’s most proficient Octagon operative.
Those who fancy the California native to prevail thanks to the wisdom of the judges once more can get paid out at 7/2, but to do so he’ll need to fathom a successful formula to help him dodge the mat against the Irish knockout machine.
McGregor has never tasted defeat since his 2013 UFC bow, with four of his five wins coming via KO or TKO.
A deluge of punches caused the ref to halt proceedings against each of his previous three adversaries and the same approach of hitting hard and often will be the modus operandi once more.
Mendes’ talents lie in his wrestling ability, which have carried him to the dizzy heights of number one contender status in the featherweight ranks, so becoming embroiled in a grappling battle is not likely to end favourably for McGregor, whose fighting background is in boxing.
Keeping the contest vertical is key to McGregor’s prospects of success and, assuming he achieves this, the 3/4 saying he wins via KO or TKO looks a very reasonable wager.
For those who fancy the Dubliner for victory but remain unconvinced he will blast his strong-staying adversary out inside the distance, odds of 7/2 about a decision win are the reward.