Following the news that UFC featherweight champion Jose Aldo would be unable to compete at UFC 133 in August, top contender Chad Mendes has indeed opted to remain on the card.
The promotion’s top challenger at 145 pounds will now face Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu ace Rani Yahya on the Aug. 6 card in Philadelphia.
Sources close to the fighters confirmed the bout to MMAWeekly.com.
Mendes (10-0) returns to action after a stifling performance over Japanese featherweight Michihiro Omigawa in February. The win earned Mendes a shot at the 145-pound title, but with champion Jose Aldo still banged up from his fight with Mark Hominick at UFC 129, the Team Alpha Male fighter opted to take another fight as opposed to sitting out.
He will have no easy task ahead of him at UFC 133 if he hopes to hold onto that featherweight title shot because opposing Mendes will be Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt Rani Yahya.
Yahya (16-6) steps in to face Mendes with a shot to vault into the 145-pound rankings in just one fight. After attempting a drop to bantamweight that ended with mixed results, Yahya returned to 145 pounds where he defeated former WEC champion Mike Brown in January.
Yahya was set to return at UFC 131 in June, but an injury sustained in training forced him out of his fight against Dustin Poirier. Now because of the time off, Yahya may get an even bigger fight as he faces Mendes in August.
If Mendes is successful it’s likely he will still get a crack at champion Jose Aldo when he returns, but he first has to win at UFC 133.