UFC featherweight contender and three-time title challenger Chad Mendes took on Conor McGregor at UFC 189, in perhaps one of the riskiest fights of his career. Stepping in on short notice against ‘The Notorious’, who had a full camp for his scheduled opponent Jose Aldo, ‘Money’ was able to control McGregor quite well on the ground, but the end result was not what the Team Alpha Male prospect would’ve hoped for.
The Irish interim featherweight boss earned the belt that night in Vegas with a second round TKO over a depleted Mendes, stepping up the hype surrounding Aldo vs. McGregor and ending the fight with an authoritative statement of intent. Props to Mendes for agreeing to face the surging ‘Notorious’ one on just two weeks notice, it simply wasn’t his night. Talking to The MMA Hour recently, as per FOX Sports, ‘Money’ says he is still haunted by the loss on July 11.:
“It hurts to watch. I’m not making excuses. I’m not sitting here saying that’s the reason why I lost. But, I feel that if I am completely prepared for that fight, I win that fight. Every single time. His only way of beating me was tagging me on the feet. And you know, he does a really good job of being in your face. He has that, like, Diaz style of punching. But, anyone who can move around and stay light on their feet and take this dude down wins that fight every single time. I just, after scrambling around, and fighting for the amount of time that I did, I just wasn’t able to get back to my feet and be light on my feet.”
Finding a way to win when in a bad situation is what champions are made of, McGregor was that guy in Sin City, defeating Mendes after being planted on the mat throughout most of their encounter. It could so easily have gone the other way, and speculation has been non-stop as to how ‘Money’ would have fared with a full camp. True to his former coach Duane Ludwig’s statements, Mendes believes he can still defeat ‘The Notorious’:
“I was stuck, and that’s when he was able to tee off and that’s why I lost. So I truly believe that if I was able to keep that bounce in my step and move my feet, keep that footwork going, that I wouldn’t have been tagged and the round would’ve ended. We would’ve gone back and round three would’ve been just like round two. So it sucks. I think that’s the hardest part, because I know I can beat this guy, and I was so close. It’s something I still think about. Sometimes [I] lay in bed still thinking about it. It’s definitely going to take some time to get over it, but you know, that’s just part of the game.”
It will likely be a few fights before Chad Mendes could be considered for another title fight, and the awesomeness that is Aldo vs. McGregor needs to transpire before paying much mind to many other fights at 145 pounds.
Do you think Mendes will ever get another crack at the belt or Conor McGregor? Will he ever own a UFC title, or is he destined to follow in the steps of his team mate Urijah Faber as a high level gatekeeper?