Two title fights highlight UFC 189 in Las Vegas (July 11) which is a part of the organization’s first-ever International Fight Week: Chad Mendes meets Conor McGregor for the Featherweight Championship while Robbie Lawler will battle Rory MacDonald for the Welterweight belt.
The next day, July 12, The Ultimate Fighter 21 Finale will take place. But, for now, we’ll focus on the title fights.
Chad Mendes vs. Conor McGregor
With the news finally being confirmed that Jose Aldo will be unable to fight on July 11 following a rib inury, Chad Mendes has stepped in to fill his place. Mendes was the last fighter to challenge Aldo for his title and lost a five-round unanimous decision that was named Fight of the Year by various sources. Now he will get chance to claim the interim title if he can beat Conor McGregor.
The Irishman McGregor has won 13 straight fights including three in a row by TKO via punches. He stands at 17-2 in his career after beating Dennis Siver in the second round in January. Last year, he dispatched with Diego Brandao and Dustin Poirier both in the first round. Of the 26-year-old’s 17 career wins, 15 have come by (T)KO. McGregor had been waiting for this Aldo fight for a long time, so he will look to take out his disappointment on the place-holding Mendes.
McGregor is a 2/3 favorite heading into the fight. Mendes thinks he can strike with the best of them and guaranteed a finish within three rounds. But a lot of bettors were jumping on McGregor to take out Aldo and, now drawing a weaker opponent, the Irishman’s odds will likely only get better as the fight approaches.
Robbie Lawler vs. Rory MacDonald
Lawler earned the Welterweight belt with a split decision victory over Johny Hendricks in December 2014. The win capped off a busy year for the 33-year-old San Diego native; he lost a battle for the vacant belt to Hendricks in March before edging Jake Ellenberger and Matt Brown to later in the year to earn another shot at the title. July’s tilt with MacDonald will be his first title defense. At 25-10 all time, Lawler has won six of his last seven fights and has 19 career KOs.
MacDonald’s first title shot comes after he earned a TKO victory over Tarec Saffiedine (punches) in October. He is an impressive 18-2 lifetime, with his only losses coming against Carlos Condit back in 2010 (TKO via punches with seven seconds left in the fight) and Lawler (split decision) in 2013. After falling to Lawler, he won unanimous decisions over Demian Maia and Tyron Woodley before stopping Saffiedine.
Lawler’s record isn’t exciting, and he’s not really aesthetically pleasing, but it is strange that MacDonald is a 4/9 favorite. While it wouldn’t be at all surprising if the younger MacDonald has made strides and takes the title, the betting value is with Lawler – who already owns one career victory over the young Canadian.
(Photo credit: Nadavspi~commonswiki [https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/1.0/legalcode] via Wikimedia Commons.)