The UFC’s featherweight division is currently one of the most compelling divisions in the sport, consisting of a multitude of tough contenders and ruled by a dominant champion. That dominant champion, Jose Aldo, is set to defend his title for the eighth time July 11, 2015 in the main event of UFC 189 as he meets Irish sensation Conor McGregor.
But who’s next in line after McGregor? Many believe that No. 2-ranked former lightweight champion Frankie “The Answer” Edgar should be next in line for a shot at gold. Edgar dropped down to 145-pounds in 2013, fighting Aldo to a close decision, but ultimately coming up short. Since then, “The Answer” has rattled off four straight wins, most recently scoring a dominant decision over former WEC champion Urijah Faber, a bout that may have earned Edgar a title shot.
However, there is another fighter out there who believes his name should also be in this conversation. That would be none other than long-time No. 1 contender and multi-time title challenger Chad “Money” Mendes. “Money” has actually met Aldo twice before, losing by knockout the first time, and dropping a very competitive decision loss in the rematch last October.
The Team Alpha Male product returned to action in April, starching another former title challenger, Ricardo Lamas, via a devastating first-round knockout. Despite having loss to the current boss twice, Mendes recently told FOX Sports that he believes he is the true No. 1 contender, and that he wants the winner of UFC 189’s main event:
“In my mind, I feel like I’m the true No. 1 contender. I feel like I proved that in my last fight, I went out there and I finished Ricardo Lamas. Jose couldn’t even do that. I’m getting better and better with each fight. Right now, I’m sitting back to watch that fight, and I want the winner of that fight, bottom line. Ultimately it’s up to the UFC whether it’s going to be me or it’s going to be Frankie. Honestly, I feel like we both earned it. If they ended up giving it to Frankie I wouldn’t be disgusted, but obviously I feel like I would get in there and perform, especially after that last fight.”
As far as why he should get the next shot, Mendes credited his style for the reason, noting that he had a great fight with Aldo in October, and that he is a finisher:
“I feel like I’m going out there and I’m finishing guys. I had a great fight with Jose this last time. This finishing style, the style that I’ve developed over the last few years, is what people want to see. That being said, it’s ultimately up to the UFC.”
Mendes very well may be the best fighter in the division not named Jose Aldo, and he may beat everyone put in front of him, but it’s tough to see the UFC skipping over Edgar again, who has clearly earned his shot. It would make the most since to pair these two off against each other, another move unlikely from the UFC.
Things could also be thrown for a loop depending on the outcome of UFC 189. Should McGregor win, does Aldo get a rematch? If so, what happens to Edgar and Mendes? Only time will tell.