Chad Mendes: Dave Mandel | Sherdog.com
Chad Mendes was unfazed by the antics of jiu-jitsu ace Javier Vazquez heading into their WEC 52 featherweight clash at the Palms Casino Resort in Las Vegas. Mendes rode out a unanimous decision, earning all three rounds in the eyes of the judges.
In the weeks leading up to the contest, Vazquez took to Twitter and announced that he felt Mendes had been “spoon fed” opponents. As the fight drew nearer, Vazquez got more personal, sending what he called “gifts” to Mendes' hotel room. While the trash talk was initially met with anger, Mendes now claims he actually appreciated the experience.
“I enjoyed it a lot. He was talking crap. I’ve never really had an opponent do that up until now,” said Mendes at the post-fight press conference. “He was pretty disrespectful, sending stuff up to my room all week. [He sent] a jar of baby food with a spoon and some stuffed animals. I laughed it off and used it as motivation. I didn't let it get to me. I knew I trained hard, and I knew I was going to go in there and kick his butt.”
Mendes used his superior wrestling to put Vazquez on his back in all three rounds, though Mendes had to weather his opponent’s extremely active guard in the first half of the fight.
“I feel like I rocked him three or four times. That guy has a chin from Hell. I was hitting him with everything I had, and he didn't go down,” said Mendes. “I think, after the first time I rocked him, I felt him start to break a little bit, but the guy fought till the end. Javy is a tough guy.”
One of the big questions surrounding Mendes, who typically relies on his wrestling to grind out decisions, is whether he will be able to hold his own on his feet against the cream of the crop in the featherweight division. The Team Alpha Male product says that his standup is a work in progress.
“We have some of the best standup coaches at Team Alpha Male. [My teammates] all have great standup. I’m picking it up. I’m learning it,” he said. “It's something that I’m training every single day. It's just about being confident with it when I get in there to fight. Each fight, I’m getting more and more confident, and tonight I think it showed.”
With the victory, Mendes may be considered a legitimate future contender at 145 pounds. However, the fight game may not be the wrestler's singular focus. Though he trains with enterprising mentor Urijah Faber in Sacramento, Calif., Mendes stated that his long-term plan differs from Faber's. When asked if he hopes to follow in Faber's footsteps by opening his own gym, Mendes answered bluntly. According to the two-time NCAA All-American, once he's made a name for himself by fighting, he would like to become a star of the small screen.
“A big passion of mine is the outdoors," he said. "I like to hunt and fish. Ultimately, my goal is to have my own show, maybe on Versus.”