Sunday 22 April 2018

Chad Mendes: Conor McGregor is scrawny. He's cutting too much weight and I will destroy him

Conor McGregor and Chad Mendes
Conor McGregor and Chad Mendes

JOE CALLAGHAN reports from Las Vegas

CONOR McGregor and Chad Mendes have finally come face to face in Las Vegas. Unsurprisingly, there were fireworks.

The Dubliner and the Californian will clash with an interim title on the line in the headline fight at UFC 189 on Saturday night. But with Mendes only being brought on to the card a fortnight ago in place of the injured featherweight champion Jose Aldo, the rivals hadn't been in each other's company until Thursday's final press conference for the event.

While UFC vice president Dave Sholler stood sentry at the podium to keep them apart, Mendes and McGregor will get a chance to properly stare one another down at Friday's weigh-in at the MGM Grand, which is expected to attract a mammoth crowd of 10,000. At the Ka Theatre though, they had to make do with fighting words, of which there were plenty.

Turning the tables on McGregor, who has constantly ribbed his opponent over his height, Mendes took a long look and then took aim at McGregor's physique.

"He looks scrawny. He's cutting too much weight," said the 30-year-old, in the wake of concerns over McGregor's weight earlier in the week. "He's skinny. I'm gonna destroy this dude. He's a one-dimensional fighter.

"He's a stand-up fighter. Bottom line. He doesn't have anything else. I'm more well-rounded. I have power. I can put people to sleep on their feet, I can take you down and beat a hole in your face and I can submit you. What else can he do?"

Mendes later said he has used sparring partners who could 'imitate this monkey over here'. But McGregor, in front of a huge Irish contingent in the arena, some of whom had queued from before 7am for front-row seats to the free event, was quick to fire back.

"He'll do absolutely none of those things," said the undefeated McGregor. "Not one little bit of a thing. He's a rookie. He's a novice in my eyes. He's a white belt on the mat.

"In the grappling exchanges, he will know as well and then panic will set in and then he will cower like a little girl and begin his little run. But I will catch him. He throws an overhand right, looks at the floor, closes his eyes and hopes for the best. This is Day One, beginner stuff where I come from."

McGregor is the UFC's undisputed golden boy but Saturday offers him the first opportunity to put some shiny hardware around his weight and in the process answer the army of skeptics, of which Mendes is clearly one.

"The hype train is coming to an end," insisted the former wrestler. "He's a black belt in trash talking. It comes natural to the dude. This has been a fun ride going through all this with this dude. This is a fight that in my opinion, you throw all this hype, this trash talk away, this is an easy fight for me."

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