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McGregor promises historic Irish night in Mendes UFC title clash

Conor McGregor’s long path to a UFC world title took another unexpected turn when reigning champion Jose Aldo pulled out of their anticipated showdown, but the Dubliner will now contest Chad Mendes for the interim featherweight crown at the MGM Grand.

The rising star of the sport will enter the Las Vegas arena to face stand-in American Mendes, despite having been preparing for months for his initial match-up with Brazilian Aldo, and is odds-on 5/6 favourite to secure victory by KO or TKO.

Sport - UFC - Jose Aldo and Conor McGregor Press Conference - Dublin Convention Centre

In the early hours of Sunday morning, Irishman McGregor steps into the Octagon at UFC 189 hoping to continue his deadly form, having clinically toppled his last three opponents Diego Brandao, Dustin Poirer and Dennis Siver.

The 26-year-old ‘Notorious’ has confidently promised his huge Irish following that it will be a sensational weekend on American soil.

“A McGregor show is a spectacle,” the Irishman stated. “It’s going to be historic. It’s going to be a phenomenal weekend for the Irish.”

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His 30-year-old counterpart ‘Money’ Mendes (5/1 win by KO or TKO) stepped in to replace world featherweight champion Aldo just three weeks prior to the bout in Vegas, due to an apparent rib injury to the Brazilian during sparring.

“He’s (Aldo) a distant memory, he’s out on a jog. When he comes back, we’ll see. I don’t just talk the talk, I walk the walk. He did all the talking but he’s not walking,” continued McGregor.

“I have another question to answer now and I will do that in devastating fashion. He didn’t show up, where’s the pride? Where’s the fighter in him? Him and Chad are tweeting back and forward like little buddies.

“When a man is close to death they bunch up together. They know it’s over for them. If he grows a set of balls, his time will come.”

Sport - UFC - Jose Aldo and Conor McGregor Press Conference - Dublin Convention Centre

Meanwhile, Mendes has insisted that his short-term preparation will actually play to his advantage when he enters the octagon against such a ferocious all-round fighter.

“I’m feeling damn good right now,” he claimed. “I over train pretty quickly, within three to four weeks of a training camp I feel peaked.

“From the base I had jumping into this two-and-a-half week training camp, I feel fast and explosive. Time will tell but right now I feel great.”

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McGregor’s switch of opponents at such short notice could cause some problems, though, despite his persistence that he will walk through Mendes. The American poses a different threat to Aldo, with his wrestling-like approach, compared to the agile hard-hitting tactics deployed by the world champion.

Mendes’ style could be a threat to McGregor, with his only two professional career defeats coming by submission, and his latest rivals is 8/1 to deliver a third loss by that method yet again.

However, crowd favourite McGregor will have a massive following in Vegas, with hundreds of Irish fans expected to travel, and is 13/2 to triumph by decision after three rounds for the first time since 2013, when he began his rampant run of stoppages.