Chad Mendes has transformed his standup game. | Photo: Dave Mandel/Sherdog.com
Chad Mendes has turned it on.
Over his last four fights, the touted wrestler has scored three knockouts and a stoppage via punches. The stoppage came last Saturday when he finished Clay Guida in the third round of their featherweight matchup at UFC 164.
Coming off the win, Mendes joined the Sherdog Radio Network’s “Beatdown” show to discuss his progression and much more:
On finishing Guida: “I knew coming into this fight for me to prove myself as one of the top if not the best 145-pounder in the world, I needed to finish Clay. He’d never been finished by knockout or TKO, and that was my goal. … His style, his timing, just the way he moves in there is very unorthodox and awkward. It actually took me a little bit to kind of find the rhythm, if there was one at all. I honestly could say there wasn’t really ever a rhythm. He just moves so erratic and all over the place all the time. I was trying find it that first round and just kind of feeling it out and just seeing what his speed was like and where he was going to be coming [from], what his game plan was going to be, and then I used my wrestling to just kind of wear him out a little bit.
“I knew that he’d be cutting a lot of weight, so I wanted to do as much grappling and scrambling as possible without overextending myself and getting into bad positions. That all kind of went as planned and then the third round, I feel like he kind of slowed down a little bit and I just found that one split second where he left an opening and just capitalized on it, touched him on the chin and he fell. I knew he was hurt, but I’d seen Clay in the past get hit before and guys get burnt out trying to finish him and it doesn’t happen. I just knew that I had to be patient. I kept him pinned against the cage basically, and as he got up, just let it go.”
On the progression of his striking: “I think I’ve always had the power and the athleticism to be able to throw fast punches and hard punches. I just was never confident and comfortable enough with the techniques to get in there and let my hands go in the cage. All my teammates told me from day one, ‘You hit hard. You hit like a truck. You need to just let your hands go,’ but it was something that was just never comfortable for me in a fight. … I kind of had the mentality coming into that [Cody] McKenzie fight that I’m just going to start taking more chances and just letting it go. I remember throwing that punch that landed on his liver, and damn, did it feel good. I just realized I can start putting people down if I hit them. I don’t know why I was so afraid before and so just not very confident at all really. I think since then it’s just kind of that switch flipped. It feels good to get in there and hit people.”
On becoming a star: “I think the last few fights has really just been me finding myself. [Urijah] Faber told me this from the beginning: ‘You will find yourself. You’re going to get to that point where it’s all just going to start clicking.’ He was like, ‘You’re going to be a superstar,’ and I believed him. I think that time is now.”
Listen to the full interview (beginning at 1:37:36).