LAS VEGAS -- Jose Aldo has taken plenty of heat from fans after he pulled out of UFC 189 with a broken rib and comments by Conor McGregor and UFC president Dana White have only added fuel to the fire.
Chad Mendes is much more forgiving of his former rival -- and not just because he has benefited the most from Aldo's withdrawal.
"What sucks for Aldo is that he just gets injured a lot," Mendes said at UFC 189 open workouts Wednesday at MGM Grand. "It's something that's been reoccurring, so a lot of people are just starting to get irritated, I think. But like I said, injuries are really out of our hands, guys. We train, we try to be as safe as we can, but you do realize this is MMA, this is a sport where we're continuously beating on our bodies every single day. We try to take all the precautions we can, all the right gear and stuff to keep from that stuff happening. But a lot of this stuff you just can't control it."
Mendes (17-2), who meets McGregor in the main event Saturday night here with the interim featherweight title on the line, said he has had a rib injury before and it was a less than pleasant experience.
"I know what it feels like," Mendes said. "I've been injured before in big competitions and it sucks. I don't know personally how injured he really is. I mean, I've had stuff done with my ribs before, cartilage separated, broken stuff. It's no joke, man. It just sucks. I think it sucks."
Mendes, 30, has only two losses in his career and they're both to Aldo, the UFC featherweight champion. But the two men seem to have forged a bond after their war last October at UFC 179. Aldo edged out a close fight and it was one of the best bouts of 2014. The two men have spoken back and forth on Twitter this week with Mendes starting off in Aldo's native language of Portuguese asking Aldo if he had the support of Aldo's fans at UFC 189 and saying McGregor has no respect. Aldo concurred and said Mendes had the support of the Brazilian fans.
.@josealdojunior quando competimos, competimos. Mas voce sempre tem meu respeito. @thenotoriusmma nao ... http://t.co/nKV9qfqECb— chad mendes (@chadmendes) July 7, 2015
The respect is mutual and I'm looking forward to fight u Again, because I know you'll beat the Joker up! U can count on my fans!@chadmendes!— Jose Aldo Junior (@josealdojunior) July 8, 2015
More than anything, Mendes feels bad for Aldo's situation, even though he has replaced him in this sport and a third fight between the two is becoming increasingly likely.
"Man, that sucks," Mendes said. "It's a tough thing to go through. It was a long training camp, I would imagine. Having to do all the media tour and traveling all over the world to do all that kind of stuff to promote this fight and right before you're getting an injury before to where you can't fight."