With four straight knockout wins under his belt, Chad Mendes believes he’s just about due for a rematch with UFC featherweight champion Jose Aldo. But he could see himself moving to 135 pounds, at some point, as well.
“That’s actually something I have considered, and I definitely could,” Mendes said when asked at a weekend Q&A event if he’d ever consider a move to bantamweight. “I’m not the biggest 145-pounder. I think I’m probably medium-sized for 145, but I could definitely make 135 if need be. But yeah, I’d like to make another run, hopefully win the belt at 145, defend it a few times and then depending on what my body says, if it allows it, I’d like to go down to 135, too.”
Mendes, of course, fought for Aldo’s belt in January 2012, traveling to Brazil to fight the champ on his home soil. The Team Alpha Male product fought well for most of the opening round but was knocked out with one second left in the frame by a beautiful turning knee strike from the champ.
He’s since been on a mission to get a rematch, knocking out Clay Guida, Darren Elkins, Yaotzin Meza and Cody McKenzie in successive outings. Mendes (15-1 MMA, 6-1 UFC) hoped that was enough to get him another shot at the belt, but Aldo (23-1 MMA, 5-0 UFC) suffered a broken foot in his August win over Chan Sung Jung and was forced to the sidelines. Mendes was instead booked to face Nik Lentz (24-5-2 MMA, 8-2-1 UFC) at December’s “UFC on FOX 9: Pettis vs. Thomson” event in Sacramento, Calif.
Aldo is now in talks to face Ricardo Lamas in early 2014, but Mendes said he’s fine with how things played out.
“It kind of bummed me out a little bit that I wasn’t getting a title shot, but this is a business, and I understand why I’m not,” Mendes said. “Aldo broke his foot, and they’re coming to Sacramento. He wasn’t going to be ready in time, and for me, I hate waiting. I’d like to get in there and fight, make some money and stay sharp and keep everything crisp. They offered me the fight with Nik Lentz, and that’s what I’m going to do.
“I’m going to fight in front of my hometown, Sacramento, and put on a great show, hopefully get in there and get another knockout and be the first one in UFC history to get five in a row. That’s the goal. Hopefully it happens, and I’m hoping and I’m praying that’s what’s next for me after that. Can’t overlook Nik Lentz though. He’s a tough guy. He’s coming down from 155, so he’s a big featherweight, and he’s a grinder. Those guys are always dangerous, so I’m definitely focused.”
Lentz is currently unbeaten in three fights at featherweight, and he’ll certainly present a stern challenge to Mendes. But if “Money” prevails, it would be hard to deny him another shot at the title. So a potential move to bantamweight may still be sometime away.
Still, it’s an intriguing possibility that gives Mendes future career options, and maybe even the ability to join a select few fighters as a dual-division champion.
“I think if I win this fight, I should be fighting for the title again at 145 anyway, but it is definitely something I would consider doing in the future,” Mendes said. “Right now, probably not. We’ve got a couple of guys that are still fighting at 135 that I think have a chance to win the belt. I’m obviously going to let them have their run and let them do their thing.
“But in the future, if my body allows – if I’m not getting too old and beat up – then it’s definitely a possibility.”
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