Number one-ranked UFC featherweight Chad Mendes picked up a win over Nik Lentz at last night’s UFC on Fox 9, but he didn’t quite look like himself in doing so.
Heading into the bout Mendes had won four straight fights via striking stoppage, including the first-ever knockout of tough-as-nails Clay Guida. His striking is at an all-time high thanks to the tutelage of Duane “Bang” Ludwig, and for a minute, it looked like “Money” would take Lentz to the bank inside the first round.
However, after rocking “The Carny” early on, Mendes’ pace slowed considerably as he went to his wrestling skills. Despite taking down Lentz nearly at will, Mendes failed to capitalize much on the advantageous positions he was presented with.
After the fight, Mendes noted that he didn’t want to make any excuses but he was suffering from a sinus infection during his fight with Lentz. Dana White detailed the situation on Twitter:
He just told Joe Silva he's got the flu\cold and felt like shit tonight.— Dana White (@danawhite) December 15, 2013
It was a pivotal bout that Mendes needed to make a statement with if he wanted to fight for the title again his next time out. He may not have done enough to seal that up, but White showed his respect for Mendes in an interview with Fox Sports, praising “Money’s” win despite being sick throughout:
"I think tonight is one of those type of fights... I like Chad Mendes. I like the way he fights. And after the first round I said, 'wow, is it just me or is this kid gassed?' And it was completely evident but that explosive first two and a half minutes is Chad Mendes, the way he fights. I thought tonight was actually a good fight for him. He overcame adversity, he didn't feel well, and he still looked good."
There’s not much doubt that Mendes is the cream of the 145-pound crop if he can defeat a notorious grinder like Lentz at less than one hundred percent. He may or may not get the next shot at the belt, especially if Jose Aldo gets past Ricardo Lamas at UFC 169 in February.
What were your thoughts about Mendes’ performance? Does he deserve another shot at the belt?