There's a big fight tonight (Sat., July 11, 2015) inside MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Conor McGregor, who has taken the mixed martial arts (MMA) world by storm, will have to walk-the-walk after he talked-the-talk unlike any other in the build up to his world title fight in the pay-per-view (PPV) main event of UFC 189. And he'll have to do it against Chad Mendes, who stepped up on short notice when Featherweight champion, Jose Aldo, was forced to withdraw from the highly-anticipated match because he broke a rib in training.
Or did he not? The Brazilian's absence has been the subject of wild speculation and debate, with McGregor claiming that he exaggerated the extent of the injury because he is "scared." Whatever the case, Mendes and McGregor are now slated to collide for the interim 145-pound world title.
The most common narrative heading into the showdown is the contrast of styles: Mendes is a compact wrestling-minded fighter who packs a powerful punch, while McGregor is a long, lean dynamic striker who leverages speed and odd angles to dissect his opponents.
McGregor has never fought an opponent like Mendes, who has the ability to put him on his back and grind him for five rounds (25 minutes). Wrestling and grappling are huge question marks that hang over the trash-talking Irishman's head.
In addition, he has never competed against the caliber of fighters that Mendes has had to face such as the aforementioned Aldo (twice), Ricardo Lamas and Cub Swanson, among others. Indeed, Mendes is the more-proven mixed martial arts (MMA) commodity, but he still remains a 2:1 underdog with most sportsbooks.
That's more than likely attributed to the promise that McGregor has demonstrated to date inside the Octagon, and if he can topple Mendes and collect a belt, it will go a long way toward establishing his legitimacy as a bonafide superstar.
UFC 189 will also feature a championship match in the co-main event between 170-pound kingpin, Robbie Lawler, making his first-ever title defense against Canadian import, Rory MacDonald. Lawler and MacDonald already fought at UFC 167 back in Nov. 2013, with the champion scoring a split decision win.
MacDonald blamed the loss on a foot injury and overall disinterest, vowing that he is now fully healthy and motivated to capture the hardware that his mentor, Georges St-Pierre, vacated that same night more than two years ago after a win over Johny Hendricks.
Lawler, though, is a tough nut to crack. He made his professional debut when MacDonald was just 11 years old, meaning he has nearly twice the amount of experience of "Red King." Lawler is blessed with knockout power, a durable chin and a crowd-please go-for-broke approach to fighting.
Therefore, MacDonald's best chance for success would appear to be on the mat, while Lawler's would be on the feet.
The PPV-televised portion of UFC 189: "Mendes vs. McGregor" will begin at 10 p.m. later this evening. In addition to the aforementioned main- and co-main events, the PPV will feature three other matches: Dennis Bermudez vs. Jeremy Stephens, Gunnar Nelson vs. Brandon Thatch and Thomas Almeida vs. Brad Pickett.
Prior to the PPV, UFC 189 will deliver six undercard "Prelims" matches. The first two bouts will stream online via UFC's online digital network, "Fight Pass," at 7 p.m. ET before transitioning to television on FOX Sports 1, which will broadcast the remaining four fights starting at 8 p.m. ET.
If you are just a casual UFC/MMA fan who catches a handful of events here and there, UFC 189 should definitely be on your must-watch list.
In the meantime, to get up to speed on all things UFC 189, including previews, predictions, interviews, breakdowns, analysis and so much more be sure to check out the most comprehensive collection of stories available anywhere for "Mendes vs. McGregor."