Chad “Money” Mendes is a fighter and fighters like to fight. If fortunate enough, they get paid to do so on a regular basis in the Ultimate Fighting Championship. At UFC 133: Evans vs. Ortiz, “Money” is signed to fight Rani Yahya in a featherweight bout scheduled to be one of two preliminary bouts televised on Spike TV.
As someone who likes to fight as much as he does, it’s clear that sitting and waiting for fights isn’t something that Mendes is willing to do for an extended period of time, even if it means missing out on a title fight.
After UFC 129: St-Pierre vs. Shields, UFC president Dana White said that Mendes and UFC featherweight champion Jose Aldo would likely fight at UFC 133 for the 145-pound title. But shortly after that announcement, Aldo succumbed to an injury, forcing him out of the proposed bout with Mendes in Philadelphia.
There was never a contract signed for the title fight, however, so Mendes is happy to move on and get his scraps in with Yahya, instead.
It was a for sure thing.
“The fight with Aldo was never official; it was all just talked about. I never had a contract in front of me, sitting there wanting me to sign,” Mendes recently told MMAWeekly Radio.
“The Yahya fight was official; I had the contract there. You know, I’m training everyday. I want to fight. It would have been nine months in between fights to possibly fight Aldo. We didn’t even know if it was going to be me or Florian if he won. I decided to take the for sure thing. I wanted to get in there and compete. I’m still young in my career, 10 fights. I haven’t even been fighting for three years yet, so just wanted to keep getting in there and (get) better. I didn’t really want to sit on the shelf.”
When breaking down his fight with Yahya, Mendes knows where his advantages lie. Not to take anything away from Mendes’ skill on the floor, but his opponent is a seasoned ground specialist and getting into a scramble on the Octagon’s canvas probably wouldn’t be as beneficial as staying on the feet.
As a matter of fact, this fight represents an opportunity to showcase all the stand-up training that Mendes has been working on of late. The Team Alpha Male fighter says his confidence is growing ever so much when it comes to throwing hands and being successful with them. With wrestling in his back pocket to keep control of where the fight goes, Mendes is looking to stop his opponent from forcing the match to the ground.
According to Mendes, he won’t let Yahya have any bread and butter on Saturday night.
“This is going to be a great fight for me to get in there and hopefully showcase more of my stand-up,” Mendes predicted. “It’s something that I’ve been working on and, like I said, I’ve been getting more confident and comfortable with it every fight. So, I would use my wrestling to get in there and keep him standing as much as possible. I know he’s going to be desperately trying to get me to the ground. That’s his bread and butter. That’s where he’s the best at and I say he’s probably the best in the division at submissions. So, it’s something that we’re game planning for and something that we’ve been working on.”
Having fellow featherweight Joseph Benavidez in camp to help prepare for UFC 133 has been a big help for Mendes. Benavidez, who faced Yahya back at WEC 45: Cerrone vs. Ratcliff in late 2009, brings the invaluable tool of previous experience for UFC 133 preparation.
For Mendes, picking at Joe’s brain has become a vital part of getting ready for a Saturday night match-up with Yahya. It’s just too bad Benavidez beat him as quick as he did. There might have been more film to analyze, if that was the case.
“I’ve definitely picked Joe’s brain on this fight and we’ve worked some techniques and gone over some game plans and stuff,” he said. “So it’s great that he’s fought him. I can’t take a lot from that fight just because it was so fast, they never really locked up or anything. But the way that Joe trains, we just kind of transferred that over in the mind.”
Going forward, Mendes plans on handling his UFC 133 opponent and getting back to where he was prior: in a position to fight for the UFC featherweight title. Fighters never want to look past their opponents, but let’s get real and understand that Mendes was next in line to fight Aldo for the belt. After Saturday night, the undefeated featherweight has a strong belief that he’ll fight for the 145-pound strap next.
“The title is what I want next,” he said. “Obviously, I’m not looking past Yahya. This is going to be a tough fight. Yahya is a tough guy. A lot of people are not giving as much credit, I think, as he deserves. But yeah, if I go out there and win this fight, I honestly believe I’m the next in line for a title shot.”
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