One of the most hotly anticipated fights in mixed martial arts history was scrapped on Tuesday when Jose Aldo said his rib injury was too painful and would prevent him from defending his featherweight title against Conor McGregor on July 11 at the MGM Grand in the main event of UFC 189.
UFC president Dana White made the announcement during an appearance with McGregor on Tuesday on SportsCenter. Chad Mendes, who lost a tough match to Aldo for the belt last year in Brazil, will now meet McGregor for the interim title.
It's the fifth time in his UFC career that Aldo has pulled out of a fight due to injury, but far and away the most devastating. Previously, injuries prevented Aldo from participating in UFC 125, UFC 149, UFC 153 and UFC 176.
This one, though, is the toughest one for all concerned to take. The bout pitted the long-time champion, one of the great fighters in the sport's history, against a fast-rising star who in just two years has skyrocketed to stardom.
White said it had a chance to surpass UFC 100 as the best-selling pay-per-view in the sport's history.
That's all by the boards now, as McGregor will now meet Mendes. It's an intriguing fight on many levels, but after an eight-city, five-country tour to promote Aldo-McGregor, it's going to be difficult to get fans as interested and emotional about McGregor-Mendes.
Aldo was injured last week when he was hit with a spinning back kick by a sparring partner. The significance of the injury was debated, as members of Aldo's camp said he had a broken rib while White said doctors told him it was just a bruise.
McGregor has routinely mocked Mendes, who is 5 feet 6 inches. In an interview with Yahoo Sports last week, when he was put on standby in the event that Aldo couldn't go, Mendes said he has long been eager to face McGregor.
"This guy has talked and talked and talked and for the last year, he's made it personal," Mendes said. "I'm going to thoroughly enjoy punching him in the face. Getting in there and getting a belt against a guy like him, who in my opinion has a lot of holes in his game, is something I couldn't pass up. He's good. Don't get me wrong. He's got talent, but when you put aside the mouth and the marketing skills, he's not the kind of guy I see as a champion."
The winner will be the interim champion, and presumably will fight Aldo when he's healed.