MANILA, Philippines – A major blow has hit the UFC 189 pay-per-view event on July 12 (July 11 in the United States) as a rib injury forced featherweight champion Jose Aldo to withdraw from his title tilt with Conor McGregor.
UFC president Dana White confirmed Aldo’s pullout on Wednesday morning, July 1 (Manila time), during his live interview on ESPN’s Sports Center.
“Andre Pederneiras, his coach, called and basically said that Aldo’s rib is too painful, and he will not be fighting,” he said.
Aldo (25-1) injured his rib in sparring early last week, putting his status in question.
However, the world’s premier mixed martial arts promotion later released a statement, announcing that Aldo had suffered a bone bruise and cartilage injury to his rib but was still expected to defend his UFC featherweight belt against McGregor.
Along with the press statement, the organization revealed that Chad Mendes would take Aldo’s place if the 28-year-old Brazilian would ultimately be unable to compete.
Aldo officially pulled out from the championship clash versus McGregor. The 26-year-old Irishman will face Mendes for the interim featherweight strap.
“It’s his (Aldo’s) decision. I don’t feel great about it. We’ve spent a lot of money promoting this fight. A lot of people are excited about the fight, so it’s definitely disappointing,” White stressed,
McGregor (17-2) is fresh from a dominant performance versus Denis Siver at UFC Fight Night 59 in January, where he thumped his German counterpart via second-round technical knockout.
Immediately after the demolition job on Siver, McGregor leaped over the cage wall and confronted Aldo, who was in attendance to see the match.
Since his departure from Cage Warriors Fighting Championship in 2013, McGregor has taken UFC’s 145-pound weight class by storm, winning 5-consecutive bouts to receive a title shot. (READ: UFC star Conor McGregor wants to fight in Manila)
According to McGregor, no interim label should be attached to the gold-plated belt at stake when he and Mendes meet inside the Octagon.
“If a man is scared for his life, we cannot force him to step inside and fight. Doctors have cleared him to fight. It’s a bruise, but he still pulled out. Rightfully so, the belt should be taken from him and we will contest for the interim belt or, in my opinion, the real belt,” he stated.
On the other hand, Mendes (17-2) is coming off a first-round victory over Ricardo Lamas last April.
A former NCAA All-American wrestler, Mendes has only two professional losses, both to Aldo in UFC title fights.
UFC 189 takes place at the 16,800-seater MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas Nevada. – Rappler.com