Chad Mendes watched his partner lose.
Urijah Faber was not finished in the fight, but he did not look very good coming out of it. Featherweight champion Jose Aldo dominated Mendes’ friend and training partner for the full five rounds. In retaining the title, Aldo utilized a wide assortment of strikes, including vicious leg kicks, to retain the title.
Now, Mendes has a chance to succeed where Faber did not. On Jan. 14, in Aldo’s home country of Brazil, Mendes will go one-on-one with the UFC feather champion.
To prepare for the fight, Mendes will be watching the footage from the Faber-Aldo bout.
Faber is more than a training partner of Mendes. He is one the key people to make Mendes a successful mixed martial artist.
“It doesn’t make me nervous,” Mendes said to Bleacher Report’s Gary Herman when asked about watching the Aldo-Faber video.
“It really helps me out. We saw what his game plan would be against a wrestler.
“For me, it’s a way to pick Urijah’s brain to see where Aldo’s strengths are and where he thought Aldo was weak. It will help developing our camp and our game plan.”
Mendes’ first opportunity to compete for the UFC title almost took place a few months ago. Mendes was deemed the No. 1 contender, and he was just waiting for the fight to be announced.
However, when longtime lightweight star Kenny Florian announced he would be dropping to featherweight, plans quickly changed.
“I wasn’t too surprised,” Mendes said, when asked about the switch from himself to Florian.
“I kind of heard it coming down. If Florian won his first fight (over Diego Nunes), they were going to put him in. At first, I was a little upset, but Kenny has a huge following.”
As with Faber’s loss to Aldo, Mendes sees a bright spot in his being passed over in favor of Florian at UFC 136.
“Honestly, all it did was bring more recognition to us featherweights,” Mendes said.
“Plus, I was able to watch that fight and pick Aldo apart a little more.”
While this will be Mendes' first shot at the title, former champion Faber has had three opportunities to win a UFC title since he first lost the featherweight title to Mike Brown. Faber had missed title opportunities against Brown, Aldo and bantamweight champion Dominick Cruz.
However, with all that big fight experience combined with his up-close knowledge of Mendes, Faber believes his training partner will do well in the fight.
“I think Chad’s unstoppable wrestling is going to really translate in the fight,” Faber said to Bleacher Report’s Gary Herman.
“Aldo has great conditioning. He’s a great athlete, but we’ve seen when he’s done more grappling he gets more tired. Chad will force some grappling on him, and Chad’s very tough.”
Like Mendes, Faber is watching the video from his prior Aldo fight to assist with preparation.
“I’m a durable guy, and Aldo pinpointed my leg and took it apart,” Faber said, referring to the vicious assault of leg kicks.
“Chad knows that, and he knows what he has to do.”
Mendes’ opportunity will be coming very early in his MMA career. While he is undefeated, Mendes has only had 11 prior fights.
“Three years into my career, I never thought I’d be doing this already,” Mendes said.
“I know he’s a very dangerous fighter. I got to be careful of those big knees, the kicks, and the big uppercuts.”
Even with the difference in experience compared to Aldo’s 21 fights, Mendes is confident.
“I think it’s a great fight for me,” the former collegiate wrestling standout said.
“My wrestling will definitely slow him down. Hopefully, we get in there I can take it where I want to take it.”
While Mendes stopped short of predicting victory, Faber did not.
“I think he’s going to do it.” Faber said.
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