Chad Mendes has one mission in mind when he steps inside the Octagon to challenge Jose Aldo for the UFC featherweight title later this year.
“This is my chance to bring that belt back to the United States,” said Mendes, during a recent interview on UFC Tonight, “where it belongs and I’m excited to do it.”
Mendes and Aldo will square off for a second time this August at UFC 176 in California. Back in 2012, Aldo knocked “Money” out in Brazil with a first round knee to hand the Team Alpha Male fighter his first career loss
Since, Mendes has been on a roll, running through Cody McKenzie, Yaotzin Meza, Darren Elkins, Clay Guida and Nik Lentz. Four of those five wins have been via knockout, including three straight in the first-round.
“People always told me I was throwing haymakers and now we’re adding accuracy with the power,” Mendes said. “Duane (Ludwig) has fine-tuned that.”
As for what is different from the 2012 Mendes to this version, that is easy to explain, he says.
“That Chad Mendes is a completely different Chad Mendes than the one who’s here now,” he said. “My mixed martial arts game has gotten so much better. My power, accuracy; everything is there as far as my stand-up and he has to worry about my wrestling also.
“This is a huge fight for me. This is it. This is the top of the top.”
Mendes is a former two-time NCAA Div. I All-American wrestler who was also a two-time Pac-10 champion in 2006 and ’08.
Front-Page Photo Credit: Kyle Terada