As someone who has come up short in three title bouts, Chad Mendes knows that championship contention is fleeting in the UFC.
That’s why if the Team Alpha Male representative upends fellow contender Frankie Edgar at "The Ultimate Fighter 22" finale in Las Vegas on Friday night, he won’t mind taking a little hiatus if it eventually means getting a fourth opportunity to compete for UFC gold.
“This is a sport we can’t do for an entire lifetime,” Mendes said during a recent conference call. “So, you know, it doesn’t make any sense if you’re going to fight and have an opportunity to wait for a title shot to do anything else. I mean I’m here to fight the best guys in the division. And I want a piece of that. And I want to be the champion.
“I’d definitely wait and want that title.”
Jose Aldo and Conor McGregor will clash for the featherweight crown at UFC 194 on Saturday, one day after Mendes and Edgar collide. Depending on the outcome and how the title fight plays out, a rematch between the two rivals could be a possibility.
Mendes’ first crack at the featherweight belt came at UFC 142, where he was knocked out emphatically by an Aldo knee with one second remaining in the first round. Their rematch two years later was much more competitive, with “Money” eventually falling via unanimous decision at UFC 179 in one of 2014’s best fights. Most recently, Mendes suffered a short-notice, technical knockout loss to McGregor for the interim strap at UFC 189 this past July.
Edgar, meanwhile, is a former lightweight titlist who received a title shot against Aldo in his 145-pound debut at UFC 156. Since dropping a five-round verdict to the Brazilian, “The Answer” has won four straight fights, besting Charles Oliveira, B.J. Penn, Cub Swanson and Urijah Faber in succession.
Even if he beats Mendes, Edgar would prefer to stay active rather than put his career on hold.
“I’m not looking past Dec. 11. Until Dec. 11th is over, that’s also when I’ll be thinking about the next fight,” Edgar said. “But you now I’m going to be honest with you, I don’t plan on waiting. I don’t think I’ll be fighting lesser competition. I don’t think there’s any less competition in our division. I think all the guys are kind of hammers right now. So, you know, any fight’s going to be a tough fight at this point in my career.”