Chad Mendes happy to serve as an understudy for Jose Aldo

LAS VEGAS -- Here's all you need to know about Chad Mendes: When UFC president Dana White called to gauge his interest in facing Conor McGregor if featherweight champion Jose Aldo is unable to compete on July 11, Mendes said yes before he knew whether he'd be paid.

And on Thursday, a day after the UFC announced that Aldo is planning to put his belt on the line against McGregor but bringing in Mendes as a precaution in case the pain from a bruised rib becomes too unbearable for Aldo to fight, Mendes still didn't know if he'd be paid.

"Honestly, I don't know," he told Yahoo Sports when asked if he'd be paid even if he's not needed to fight. "I guess we're still talking. I don't really know. But they offered me the chance to be the stand-by fighter for UFC and, paid or not, I was all over it. I was 100 percent going to do it."

For the record, White said Thursday that Mendes will be paid, regardless of whether he fights. White said the UFC does that frequently, and said it paid Jessica Eye to train and be ready as a backup to fight Ronda Rousey at UFC 184 in February if Cat Zingano wasn't able to make it.

Aldo was hurt when he was hit with a spinning back kick on Tuesday in Brazil. With his injury history -- he's pulled out of four events since he joined the UFC -- the UFC needed to make sure that McGregor remained on the show. White expects it to be the biggest pay-per-view show in the company's history, and it's largely because of McGregor.

Mendes, who is the division's No. 1 contender, is 17-0 against all the other featherweights in the world but 0-2 against Aldo. He lost title fights to Aldo at UFC 142 in 2012 and UFC 179 last year.

But he's long been eager to get a crack at McGregor, who has mocked him mercilessly over the last two years. Among other insults, McGregor referred to Mendes as "a midget."

McGregor has gone 5-0 in two-plus years in the UFC but earned the title shot as much for his notoriety and ability to attract fans as for his accomplishments in the cage.

UFC featherweight Conor McGregor will headline UFC 189 (MMA Weekly).
UFC featherweight Conor McGregor will headline UFC 189 (MMA Weekly).

If Mendes fights him, it will be because Aldo physically couldn't make it and it would be declared an interim title bout. That doesn't really matter to Mendes, who said the interim belt "would be a cool thing," but not the prize he's truly seeking.

"This guy has talked and talked and talked and for the last year, he's made it personal," Mendes said of McGregor. "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."

So Mendes will train for the next two weeks as if he were going to fight, with the knowledge that with each passing day, the likelihood he's needed will decrease.

He's not worried about it, he said, because he is always in the gym working out. His weight rarely balloons up and so he said he'd have no issue being ready to make the division's 145-pound limit.

"Either way, I feel I'm in a positive place, whether Aldo gets in there and fights or not," Mendes said. "Basically, I've got to treat this like I'm fighting for the world title. I've got to shut out all that stuff [about possibly training and then not getting to fight] and just be ready to fight. Physically and mentally, I'm in a great place and I'm in a can't lose situation.

"If I am fighting, I will be ready. This is a fight I've wanted for a long time. I've thought about this fight for quite a while and I'm excited to get in there and do it. But if I don't get to fight, this is a bout that not only as a fighter, but as a fan, I'd be excited to watch. So I can go pig out at the buffet and see a great fight. Either way, it's positive for me."