Chad Mendes got the statement win he desired on Saturday afternoon. | Photo: Dave Mandel/Sherdog.com
Chad Mendes may be 0-2 against reigning featherweight king Jose Aldo, but the Team Alpha Male product is still very much a part of the division’s title picture.
“Money” dispatched fellow former No. 1 contender Ricardo Lamas with relative ease on Saturday afternoon, finishing off the Chicago native with punches 2:45 into the first round of their headlining encounter at UFC Fight Night in Fairfax, Va.
Mendes has won six of his last seven inside the Octagon, and his latest triumph might have been his most impressive to date. After Lamas experienced moderate success landing punches and kicks from the outside in the bout’s opening moments, Mendes turned the tide for good with a counter right hand that dropped his foe. From there, it was all a wobbly Lamas could do to maintain his wits as Mendes continued to punish him with powerful punches. Finally, with a little persuasion from Mendes, referee Dan Miragliotta called a halt to the 145-pound contest.
“I was trying to patient, but I thought there were a few times he was pretty much done, and I figured the ref was going to stop it and didn’t,” Mendes said. “I stopped punching, honestly. It was probably a mistake on my part, but I felt the fight was over. Ricardo started to come back, and I’d have to go back at it again. Right there at the end I basically just told the ref: ‘He’s done.’ He wasn’t doing anything. He was laying there, and he was just going to let me keep hitting him. So I stopped and the ref finally stepped in.”
The triumph gives Mendes a much-needed shot of momentum following a hard-fought loss to Aldo at UFC 179. The setback to the Nova Uniao ace ranked as one of 2014’s best fights and did little to hurt Mendes’ stock, but the WEC veteran knew he’d have to do something special against Lamas to remain relevant in the division.
“That is exactly what I was looking for. I needed to make a big statement,” Mendes said. “Lamas is a super tough dude, so I was honestly expecting to get in there and go through a five-round war. That’s how I envisioned it in my mind, and that’s the way I was hoping it was going to go. To get in there and let my hands go felt great, and I got the finish.”
Now, Mendes will turn his attention to a pair of big-ticket bouts on the horizon: Frankie Edgar-Urijah Faber at UFC Fight Night on May 16 and Aldo-Conor McGregor at UFC 189 on July 11. Should Edgar best his Team Alpha Male training partner, a matchup with the ex-lightweight ruler could make sense for Mendes -- especially if Aldo gets by McGregor.
“I’ve been trying to figure out who I would fight after this,” Mendes said. “The only thing that makes sense in my mind is back for that title. We’ve just got to wait to see what happens with Aldo-McGregor and Frankie-Faber.”
After a 2014 in which his bout with Aldo was the only time he set foot in the Octagon, Mendes might be willing to put his championship dreams aside in order to stay active.
“I’m gonna have to talk to the UFC and see, but I don’t want to sit out another year. I don’t want to have another year of just one fight,” he said. “I’m turning 30 this year. I’m only gonna be doing this for another six to seven years, so I’m trying to make as much money as a can [without] putting a pounding on my body.
“We’ll be watching the Frankie-Faber fight and the Aldo-McGregor fight very closely and just hoping that I can get in there and fight for that title soon. If that’s not the case, I’ll probably take a fight.”