<
>

Mendes: 'I'll finish McGregor in three rounds'

Chad Mendes will go into a five-round interim featherweight title fight against Conor McGregor at UFC 189 on July 11 in Las Vegas, minus the benefit of a full-length training camp.

That's not an issue though, according to Mendes, who stepped in for the injured Jose Aldo on 17-days' notice. He's not expecting a full-length fight.

During an international media call on Tuesday, Mendes (17-2) told McGregor he plans to finish the title bout before the end of the third round. McGregor (17-2) had already predicted on national television he would require a mere four minutes to put Mendes away.

"Yeah, Conor, I'm going to give you a little more respect," Mendes said. "I'm going to finish you in the first three [rounds]."

In Mendes' opinion, this would not mark the first time he's shown McGregor more respect than he's gotten in return.

Last October, days before Mendes challenged Aldo (25-1) for the title at UFC 179 in Rio de Janeiro, he and McGregor appeared on a U.K broadcast, during which McGregor turned a rather colorful phrase to describe Mendes' height (or lack thereof). McGregor had the benefit of having a studio audience around him while Mendes had connected through a video call. The U.K. crowd essentially drowned out Mendes' response to McGregor with laughter. Apparently, Mendes hasn't forgotten the exchange.

"We had to do an interview right before my Aldo fight and he's talking about putting his balls on my forehead -- being very unprofessional," Mendes said. "That made it personal for me. You don't f---ing do that. This is the fight game. This is something where someone could get seriously injured and that's what I'm looking to do when I get in there against Conor McGregor."

Other than a few short retorts, McGregor, who fights out of Dublin but has spent an eight-week training camp in Las Vegas for this fight, refrained from speaking at length about Mendes. He discussed the potential of a future stadium show at Croke Park in Ireland, a desire to appear on a Dublin show in October, and what he believes has become a very blatant fear Aldo has of him, proven by his withdrawal from the fight.

On Mendes, McGregor only said, "I think Chad is a substitute. A 'B-level.' I think he is a wrestler with an overhand that gasses. I think his body is in disproportion and that it hampers him as a fighter. He gets tired. That's why, when I'm pressing him in these and exchanges and scrambles, his belly is going to be breathing, he's going to be screaming for oxygen and I'm going to be in his face, cracking him with every shot I have."

Mendes' striking coach Martin Kampmann acknowledged a longer training camp would obviously be ideal, but said Mendes is fully capable of fighting five rounds on less than three weeks' notice.

Coinciding with Mendes' three-round prediction, however, Kampmann said he could easily see the fight being stopped early.

"I can definitely see Chad finishing the fight early," Kampmann said. "I can definitely see that happening. He has got more threats than Conor does. I enjoy watching Conor fight, but Chad has so many more threats. He has the takedowns and really heavy punches. If he starts connecting with those, that's really going to catch Conor's attention.

"He hadn't been training for a fight, but he's in the gym and he's not a guy who goes out and starts boozing between fights. Of course, if you're fighting a five-round fight, it's better to have eight weeks to prepare, but he's in shape. He'll have good cardio, still."