Chad Mendes won't be fighting for the UFC featherweight title in his next bout, but he will get the opportunity to compete close to home when he makes his next appearance inside the Octagon.
Mendes is set to face Nik Lentz in a 145-pound battle at UFC on Fox 9, set to go down Dec. 14 at Sleep Train Arena in Sacramento, Calif.
Both competitors have verbally agreed to the matchup, according to sources close to the fighters' camps when speaking to Bleacher Report Tuesday. Bout agreements for the fight are expected to be issued shortly.
Following his knockout win over Clay Guida at UFC 164, Mendes was gunning for a shot at the featherweight belt and a rematch against champion Jose Aldo.
Aldo is currently sidelined, dealing with some lingering injuries from his last fight, and he has stated that he believes Ricardo Lamas should be next in line for the belt.
Either way, Mendes isn't sitting around and waiting for something to happen, so he's going to go ahead and book his next fight and stay active, with the goal of earning a title shot during the first part of 2014 instead.
Since losing to Aldo in early 2012, Mendes has set a blistering pace, winning his last four fights in a row by knockout or TKO. The former NCAA All-American has been working his striking with new coach Duane "Bang" Ludwig, and the results are showing in the cage.
Lentz will look to put a stop to Mendes' run while trying to pick up the biggest win of his career since dropping to featherweight in 2012. Since making the move, Lentz has gone 3-0 with a TKO and two decision victories since dropping down from 155 pounds.
Facing Mendes will be the toughest test for Lentz thus far in his featherweight career, but a victory could punch his ticket to the top of the divisional race.
Currently, Mendes is ranked as the No. 1 featherweight in the world, just behind champion Jose Aldo, according to the official UFC rankings.
While no formal announcement has been made about the fight, Mendes vs. Lentz is likely to join the main card for the show currently headlined by the lightweight title bout between champion Anthony Pettis and former Strikeforce title holder Josh Thomson.
Damon Martin is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report.