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UFC 189 fight card primer: Conor McGregor vs. Chad Mendes

Bloody Elbow presents a preview of UFC 189: McGregor vs. Mendes in our fight card primer series. Here we look at the main event: Conor McGregor vs. Chad Mendes for the interim UFC Featherweight title.

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In the main event at UFC 189: Mendes vs. McGregor, an interim UFC Featherweight champion will be crowned as Conor McGregor (17-2 MMA; 5-0 UFC) faces Chad Mendes (17-2 MMA; 8-2 UFC). This five round title fight caps off the five fight UFC 189 PPV main card. The UFC Rankings have Mendes as the #1 contender in the division with McGregor at #3. UFC 189: Mendes vs. McGregor airs live from Las Vegas this Saturday, July 11. The main card airs on PPV with a fight time of 10:00 p.m. ET / 7:00 p.m. PT, with the prelims starting at  8:00 p.m. ET on Fox Sports 1 and 7:00 p.m. ET on Fight Pass.

There has been an absolute mountain of press given to this fight, long before it was even Mendes vs. McGregor. This was, of course, supposed to be Conor McGregor vs. Jose Aldo in what would have been the single biggest Featherweight fight in MMA history by a wide margin. But an Aldo injury put a stop to those plans and now gives us this interim title fight. Some think this will be the rise of McGregor - some think it will be the fight that finally pops his hype bubble. Either way, there are going to be a lot of vindicated fans Sunday morning, and a lot of fans eating crow.

How do these two stack up?

McGregor: 26 years old | 5'9" | 74" reach
Mendes: 30 years old | 5'6" | 66" reach

What have these two done recently?

McGregor: W - Dennis Siver (TKO) | W - Dustin Poirier (TKO) | W - Diego Brandao (TKO)
Mendes: W - Ricardo Lamas (TKO) | L - Jose Aldo (UD) | W - Nik Lentz (UD)

How did these two get here?

Conor McGregor gets here on a throne of hype and trash talk. When he came to the UFC in 2013, McGregor was already a much hyped prospect thanks to his impressive run in Ireland. He was out for a year with injury, and since returning one year ago, he has been arguably the most talked about fighter in the UFC. McGregor has great, non-traditional striking that he combines with an underrated ground game (don't let anyone argue that he will be submitted because that's how he lost before - he's a completely different ground fighter now). He's also the kind of marquee fighter that makes you care. Love him or hate him, everyone is interested in Conor McGregor right now as he heads into the biggest fight of his career. After all the talk, he simply must win.

Chad "Money" Mendes is part of that Team Alpha Male / WEC group that includes the likes of Joseph Benavidez and Urijah Faber. As such, he brings in a strong wrestling background and a great ability to grind. But ever since his first loss to Jose Aldo back in 2012, he's added incredibly improved striking - of his 6 wins since, 5 are TKO stoppages, 4 in the first round. His rematch with Aldo last year was a classic fight, one where Mendes fought the fight of his life. But Aldo fought even better. He's come back since with a very impressive destruction of clear top 5 fighter Ricardo Lamas. Mendes's improvement and evolution as a fighter in the past 3 years can not be overstated. He's now ready to claim that gold he has been fighting for.

Why should you care?

Like I said, it's either the rise of a new great, or watching Icarus fly too close to the sun. And I'm not sure which one it will be. Either will be something to behold.