Chad Mendes admitted he was fading at the end of round two. | Photo: Dave Mandel/Sherdog.com
Chad Mendes knows that playing it safe might have been in his best interest, but he doesn’t have any regrets about going for broke against Conor McGregor at UFC 189.
Although he was likely on his way to banking two rounds against McGregor in their headlining encounter, the Team Alpha Male stalwart instead elected to try and submit his Irish foe late in the second round.
His attempt to pass guard and secure a guillotine choke had dire consequences, as McGregor was able to return to his feet and put the Californian away with just three seconds remaining in the period.
“I felt like I was doing great in the first two rounds, especially in that second one. I was controlling the fight the whole time,” Mendes said. “I took a risk, I went for the submission. I probably should have stayed there and kept throwing elbows. I’m trying to finish the fight. That’s a risk you take and that’s the fight game.
“He was able to get to his feet, and I was pretty damn tired at the end of that round. I took that on short notice and that’s the risk I was taking.”
Fatigue certainly appeared to play a role in Mendes’ defeat. While the WEC veteran claimed he never strayed far from the gym even without a fight on the horizon, he had less than three weeks to officially prepare for McGregor.
“Sometimes your mind’s willing but your body’s not. And that’s basically what happened tonight,” Mendes said. “There’s not a whole lot I can say about it other than Conor was the better man tonight. I’d absolutely love to get back in there again and fight that guy with a full training camp under my belt.”
When the two featherweights were standing, McGregor was able to land with consistent volume. According to FightMetric.com, the Dublin native outlanded his foe 46 to 31 in significant strikes and 74 to 36 in total strikes. While McGregor did not awe Mendes with pure power, his ability to string combinations together was what made the difference.
“I think more than anything he’s accurate, and that’s what plays into the success he has with his punches,” Mendes said. “Nothing really was overwhelmingly powerful. He’s got power, but he’s more accurate than anything.”
Another McGregor attribute on display was his toughness. The “Notorious” one absorbed some heavy leather in standup exchanges and ate several Mendes elbows from his back. Even against a hard-hitting foe that had earned five of his last six victories via knockout, McGregor never stopped jawing.
“….You’ve got to give it to him, the guy didn’t stop talking s--t the entire time,” Mendes said. “I hit him with everything I had and the guy was still was running his mouth. That’s Conor I guess.
“I landed a giant elbow on his face and he’d say, ‘Is that all you got?’”
Mendes now falls to 0-3 in UFC title bouts. Having dropped a pair of fights to Aldo, “Money” is well aware of the challenge that awaits McGregor.
“I’m just gonna say Jose is a different beast. He’s a tough, tough dude,” Mendes said. “That’s a fight I’m looking forward to watching, but it’s gonna be a good one.”
In the meantime, Mendes will be left to contemplate what might have been.
“Obviously I’m not gonna sit here and talk trash about Conor. He won the fight. I felt like I had complete control on top. I felt like there wasn’t a whole lot he could do when I was on top of him,” he said. “I made the mistake by trying to go for the submission. I could’ve stayed there, and I probably should have just finished the round like that. That’s the mistake I made and that’s just how it goes.”