When Chad Mendes first faced Jose Aldo the first time at UFC 142 in January 2012, he was largely in over his head. It’s been nearly two years since he lost to the reigning featherweight champion via knockout with one second remaining in the opening round and he believes the second time around will be much different.
“I think I’m going to get in there and beat Jose Aldo,” Mendes recently told The Great MMA Debate Podcast.
“I had only fought two times in the UFC the first one. Jumping right into a title fight like that against someone as tough as Jose, going out of the country — It was my first time ever leaving the country — and having to get on a big stage like that,” added the top 145-pound contender.
“I’ve been there and done it now. I’ve been in the UFC for a while. I’ve fought multiple times since then. I’ve really gotten the hang of it. I really know how things work now. I think that that’s a huge thing,” he said.
Since the loss to Aldo, Mendes has put together a five-fight winning streak, finishing all of his opponents except one. He’s more experienced, more mature and more well rounded now.
“Since then I’ve grown tremendously. I’ve worked with Duane Ludwig. I feel like my standup is so much more on point now. Obviously, I have the wrestling, and it’s something that we fine-tune on a daily basis. I feel very confident as far as being able to outwrestle him. But I feel like the power, the accuracy and confidence, as far as my hands go, my standup is there now too,” said the Team Alpha Male trained athlete.
Heading into the rematch at UFC 179 on Saturday, Mendes feels like he’s learned a lot from their first meeting.. He knows what to expect.
“I feel like I’m so much more prepared. I’ve gotten in there. I’ve felt what he feels like. I felt his speed and his power. I’ve gotten my hands on him, and I truly believe that I have what it takes to beat him,” he said.
During the build up to the rematch, Aldo has done things that have been out of character for the champion. He typically doesn’t trash talk an opponent, but he has Mendes. During a media day in Brazil in August to promote the event, Aldo shoved Mendes.
“We’ve never seen Jose Aldo act like this before. He lashed out in the media. He lost his temper at the media day and pushed me. I’m in his head,” said Mendes.
They say timing is everything, and Mendes believes it’s his time now. He feels like he’s closed the gap and surpassed Aldo in ability.
“I think lately he’s just got a lot on his plate. He’s married now, just had a baby. Those two things are very, very time consuming. Those extra days that he’d be spending those extra hours in the gym, now he’s rushing home to be with his wife and his baby,” said Mendes. “Those extra hours that he’s missing out on, those are the hours that I’m putting in in the gym. I think that I’ve caught up and passed him up. I just truly believe that this is my time.”