It may have looked like Chad Mendes might punt Conor McGregor’s championship dreams at UFC 189, but it sounds like “Notorious” was never overly concerned about how their fight was unfolding.
As you likely know, since you probably watched the massive fight, McGregor was taken down repeatedly by Mendes on Saturday, and as a result, the latter was able to land shots from above. McGregor landed some hard shots of his own in the first frame, but the round went to Mendes.
A bloodied McGregor spent nearly all of round two on his back, until Mendes gave up position to go for a choke. That turned out to be a very, very costly mistake, as McGregor rolled out and proceeded to end the fight with a series of cracking punches.
Heading into the bout, there was widespread speculation as to how McGregor would do against an accomplished wrestler like Mendes. While discussing the fact he was taken down by Mendes at the post fight presser, here is what McGregor had to say (quotes via MMA Fighting.com):
“[Mendes] secured one or two takedowns, but again, I knew the efficient man prevails,” McGregor said. “In a fight to the death, where there is no clock or no time limit, the man who is efficient is the man who prevails. So when I was on the mat, I was patient. I landed shots when I could, I stayed safe.
“He might have thrown an overhand. He threw an elbow that split me on the eye. That was one. But then every other one was glancing, and every shot I was like, ‘eh-eh.’ That’s what I kept saying. ‘Nope. Nope. Eh-eh.’ So I felt I was preserving energy, being efficient. Then when the opportunity arose to go back to the feet, I attacked the gut.”
There you have it, and it’s going to be interesting to see how the MMA world views last night’s fight in a couple more days. On one hand, McGregor is right; he remained patient, didn’t panic when he was on his back, waited for his opportunity and capitalized.
But, Mendes was able to take McGregor down, more than once, and was cruising ahead in the score cards until he went for the choke. What if that hadn’t happened? Or, what if Mendes fought last night having had a complete camp? Would he have been finished in the final seconds of round two? Guess we’ll never know.
UFC 189 was hosted by the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.