It all started in the wrestling room for UFC Featherweight Chad Mendes. Mendes began wrestling in High School, and although it was hard work, Mendes excelled. By Sophomore year Mendes was ranked number 8 in the state of California, and by the time he was a Senior he was ranked 3rd in the state at 119 lbs. His success in wrestling would continue on through college where he wrestled at Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo, California. In 2006 and 2008 Mendes was an NCAA Division I All-American and in 2008 he was the PAC-10 Conference Wrestler of The Year. When Mendes finished school, he began training with former WEC Featherweight Champion Urijah Faber at Team Alpha Male where he made a flawless transition into mixed martial arts.
Mendes saw the fruits of his labor almost instantly. In August of 2008, Mendes had his first professional MMA bout in Lemoore, California. Before the fight would hit three minutes, Mendes would have his first win as a pro. However, it was in 2009 when Mendes really hit his stride. Mendes would compile four wins that include two wins by knockout and two by decision. One of the wins would come over Steven Siler who would also end up in the UFC’s featherweight division.
In March of 2010 Mendes would make his WEC debut against Erik Koch and the bout couldn’t have gone more perfectly for Mendes. Besides a cut over his left eye, Mendes dominated the bout, and picked up the unanimous decision. Mendes would get the call a month later when Anthony Morrison was without an opponent because of an injury. Mendes would step in and pick up the first round submission win with a guillotine choke. To round out the year, Mendes would face both Cub Swanson and Javier Vazquez and defeat both of them by unanimous decision. His win over Vasquez would be the last time he would fight in the WEC cage as the UFC had purchased the promotion. With a record of 9-0, Mendes would make his UFC debut.
At UFC 126 in Las Vegas, Nevada, Mendes would meet Japanese stand out Michihiro Omigawa who was returning to the UFC for the first time since UFC 76. Mendes was able to control the bout with his wrestling and pick up the unanimous decision win. UFC President Dana White was so impressed with Mendes, he had announced that he was likely giving Mendes A title shot, but it would never come to be as Current UFC Featherweight Champion Jose Aldo had been injured in training. Mendes would take on Rani Yahya at UFC 133 and pick up another decision win.
After the win, White had no choice but to set up the match between Mendes and Aldo, and the two would fight at UFC 142. Late in the first round, Aldo would connect with a knee to the face of Mendes and Aldo would finish the fight with one second left in the round. This would be Mendes’ first professional loss, and his only loss to date. Mendes would finish 2012 with two victories with a combined time of less than four minutes. He would defeat both Cody McKenzie and Yaotzin Meza by knockout in the first round.
Mendes would continue the momentum right into 2013. He would fight Darren Elkins on the biggest platform the UFC has. The two would meet at UFC On FOX 7 and it would only take Mendes a little over a minute to get his first win of the year. Mendes was originally set to meet Clay Guida at the FOX card, but Guida was forced out of the bout with an injury. When Guida became healthy, the UFC would match them up for a second time at UFC 164 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The first two rounds would be close, but early in the third round Mendes would become the first person to ever finish Clay Guida in his professional career.
Mendes is scheduled to face Nik Lentz at UFC On FOX 9 in Sacramento, California on Saturday Night.
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