It seems like a matter of bad timing and miscommunication led to a potential featherweight title fight between champion Jose Aldo and challenger Chad Mendes melting down over the past week.
When the UFC 133 fight card in Philadelphia was first made official with Rashad Evans vs. Phil Davis set as the headliner, most began to scratch their heads wondering what happened to the rumored bout between Aldo and Mendes.
Reports surfaced that Aldo had suffered an injury and would be unable to fight in August, but those rumors were untrue. Following his fight at UFC 129 on April 29, Aldo faced a 30-day suspension from the Ontario commission, but also had to let some existing injuries heal.
Nothing new happened, however, that would have prevented Aldo from fighting, but according to his manager Ed Soares, fighting on Aug. 6 was always a stretch.
“He didn’t have to have surgery or anything like that, but the doctor said four to six weeks of rehab,” Soares revealed when speaking with MMAWeekly.com. “So what we calculated is he started his rehab yesterday, so with six weeks it would be at the end of June, which will give him the month of July and August and halfway into September. He needs about 10 weeks to train, so 10 weeks after he’s done with his physical therapy would put it in the middle of September.
“Let’s just say nothing was wrong with him and he’s 100 percent. The commission suspended him 30 days, so he wouldn’t be able to start training because of the laceration he had on his face, until May 30 anyway. Even at May 30, that’s only giving him seven to eight weeks to get ready to go to the fight. Tell me how many champions take a fight and defend the title with an eight-week training camp?”
In the meantime, Mendes has accepted a fight against Rani Yahya to remain on the UFC 133 fight card. His manager, Mike Roberts of MMA Inc., says that ultimately not knowing for sure if Aldo would have been ready in September led to Mendes deciding to fight in August instead of waiting any longer.
“If they would have sent us a bout agreement to fight Aldo in September, we would have signed it. He’s not cleared to fight and as of right now they don’t know, so we’re electing to take the fight (with Yahya). You’ve got to take what’s in front of you,” Roberts told MMAWeekly.com.
“Chad’s a young guy and he’s got a long career ahead of him and sitting here playing the waiting game doesn’t help anybody.”
Roberts, along with partner Jeff Meyer and Mendes, had to make a decision based on the information they were given. With Aldo’s health still up in the air, they opted to fight and keep active as opposed to sitting out in the hopes that the champion would return in September.
“We were offered the fight in August, then we were told Aldo can’t fight in August and there’s a possibility of September, but they don’t know for sure. Our decision is not to wait on something that may or may not happen,” Roberts said.
Soares maintains that with Aldo’s rehab time in place, they would be confident enough to book a fight with the featherweight champion in September, but that offer has not been extended.
“I would feel comfortable signing a bout agreement for him to fight at the end of September. For whatever that’s worth,” Soares said about Aldo’s timetable to return.
Regardless of what everyone hoped would happen or could happen, it’s not happening right now. Aldo will complete his physical therapy and hopes to return in September or October, while Mendes will face Rani Yahya at UFC 133.
“It has nothing to do with money, it has to do with they can’t guarantee he can fight in September,” Roberts said of Mendes’ decision to remain on the UFC 133 fight card. “Chad’s sponsored by Form Athletics, K-Swiss, and Amp Energy drinks. He’s doing just fine.”
Soares also rebuffed any rumors that Aldo is avoiding Mendes. At the end of the day, it just didn’t work out for August.
“I just don’t want people to think Jose is running from the fight or bailing from the fight. It has nothing to do with that,” Soares commented.
“It’s just a matter of timing.”