The last time Chad Mendes lost anything was in 2008.
At the time, Mendes was the No. 1 ranked wrestler in the country coming out of Cal Poly, and after accruing a 30-0 record in his senior year, he stepped on the mat for the NCAA finals at 141 pounds.
What resulted was Mendes’ only loss that season when he dropped the match to J Jaggers from The Ohio State University, thus ending his college wrestling career.
Since that time, Mendes has rebounded from an NCAA wrestling championship defeat in a big way. He’s built an 11-0 record in MMA and through those eleven fights he’s never lost a single round.
Even though Mendes is now a mixed martial artist, he still carries the same attitude he did during his college wrestling days. He wants to grind his opponents into the mat, he wants to break them mentally and watch them fight for every breath they take.
Now some will point at Mendes’ style and say that he’s a “boring wrestler,” but if at the end of UFC 142 the “boring wrestler” is holding the featherweight title, he’ll take that as a compliment.
“I totally understand that you get a lot of MMA fans that don’t understand the style of wrestling or they just don’t like it, and everyone has an opinion,” Mendes said during a recent appearance on MMAWeekly Radio. “If it was up to me, of course I would go out there and knock everybody out in the first 30 seconds of a fight. I mean that’s the easiest thing to do. You go through a whole camp and you go through the first 30 seconds and the fight’s over.
“Obviously at this level guys are tough and it’s not always going to happen that way. It’s so much harder going a full fight.”
A full fight does give Mendes the edge, however, because he believes the longer the fight goes with champion Jose Aldo, the more of an advantage he has.
Mendes admits to watching Aldo’s past fights, including an exhausted version of the champion when he battled Mark Hominick at UFC 129 last year, and believes he’s got the key to taking the title and doing it in dominating fashion.
“We all know wrestling is my strength, and wrestling and cardio and stand-up cardio is completely different. We’re looking to exploit that,” Mendes admitted.
“The wrestling mentality, and I think that’s why some people just criticize, but the wrestling mentality is to go, go, go, get your hands on them, grind and wear them out and break them down. A lot of the time that takes a while especially because guys are in such good shape nowadays. That grind, that ability to break your opponent, just takes longer than it used to.”
Of course Mendes would love to have a quick finish or knock Aldo out early in the fight when they meet on Saturday night in Brazil, but if it takes 25 minutes with an onslaught of takedowns and grinding the champion into the cage, the former Cal Poly wrestler won’t apologize.
As a matter of fact, Mendes will tell everyone right now that if Aldo looks beaten and broken after 25 minutes on the mat with him, he did his job exactly right.
“I see the criticism, and a lot of people don’t like it, but that’s my style. I started wrestling when I was five years old, that’s what I do, and I haven’t lost a round in MMA yet, and that’s just the dominating style of wrestlers,” Mendes stated.
“Wrestling is my strength, it’s my bread and butter, and it’s something I’ll do till the day I die.”