Jose Aldo out; Chad Mendes faces Conor McGregor at UFC 189
Featherweight champion Jose Aldo officially has withdrawn from next week’s UFC 189 fight card in Las Vegas, and now Chad Mendes will face Conor McGregor for the interim belt on July 11 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena.
Aldo suffered bruised ribs and cartilage damage from a kick in sparring more than a week ago, prompting speculation as to whether or not the incumbent champion would be able to compete at UFC 189.
The UFC initially announced that Aldo would remain in the bout, but in case he was forced out they secured No. 1-ranked featherweight contender Chad Mendes as a backup so the main event could move forward with McGregor regardless of the opponent.
Now it appears Aldo’s injuries are severe enough that the 145-pound king is going to have to sit out what was expected to be the biggest card of the year. UFC president Dana White made the announcement on "SportsCenter" on Tuesday.
“Andre Pederneiras, his coach, called and basically said that Aldo’s rib is too painful and he will not be fighting,” White said. “So Chad Mendes now will fight Conor McGregor for the interim belt. Jose Aldo’s pulled out of five title fights. Conor’s ready to go. The No. 1 guy in the world, Chad Mendes, is ready to go. So it makes sense. They’ll fight for the interim title and whenever Jose Aldo is ready then that fight can happen to unify (the belts)."
McGregor responded as expected, taunting Aldo for withdrawing and predicting the change of opponents makes no difference: "Four minutes of the first round, Chad will be unconscious," he said on "SportsCenter."
Mendes will step in to face McGregor on less than two weeks’ notice, although according to the former NCAA All-American wrestler, as soon as he got the call from the UFC he began preparing as if he was already fighting on July 11.
"This is a fighter I’ve watched since he got in the UFC and a fighter I knew I would be facing very soon," Mendes told FOX Sports. "So I’ve watched all of his fights, I’ve watched past fights before the UFC. I feel like he has a lot of holes in his game and I feel like my strengths fit right into that.
"This will be a fun night for me getting in there and getting to beat the crap out of Conor, getting a belt and getting paid. It’s going to be fun. There’s no doubt taking this fight on short notice. This is a guy I know I can beat."
McGregor will face Mendes with the interim title on the line in the main event of UFC 189, with welterweight champion Robbie Lawler facing Rory MacDonald in the co-main event.
When Aldo’s injury was first reported, Pederneiras stated that if the featherweight champion was forced to pull out of the fight, he likely would be sidelined until October. There’s been no further word on when Aldo will be back, but he likely will be facing either Mendes or McGregor to unify the featherweight title when he returns.