Chad Mendes on Championship Aspirations: "I'll Have That Belt Eventually"
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When it comes to wrestling reigning supreme in mixed martial arts, you’ll be hard pressed to find a fighter who better utilizes his skillset than Chad Mendes (10-0 MMA, 1-0 UFC).
The Team Alpha Male trained featherweight has been dominant in each of his 10 professional fights with a 5-0 record under Zuffa.
Mendes faces submission specialist Rani Yahya this Saturday at UFC 133, which takes place from the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Pa. The former Division 1 standout is excited to showcase his world class talent on SpikeTV.
“I’m pumped,” Mendes recently told BleacherReport.com “It’s great exposure and it’s a great way to get my brand out, get the fan base and let the fans see how I fight and who I am. That’s great and definitely getting in there and setting off a great card is going to be awesome. I’m pumped to fight Yahya, he’s a tough guy, he’s got some sick submissions and a great ground game, but I think we have a great game plan and I’m excited to get in there and showcase it.”
Yahya defeated former WEC featherweight champion Mike Brown in his UFC debut this past January, and 87.5 percent of his victories have come by way of submission.
However, Mendes believes that he owns the superior ground game and overall edge no matter where the fight takes place.
“I was just going to say, no matter where this fight goes I will be pretty comfortable,” Mendes said. “You honestly don’t know until you get in there and feel it out though, but knowing my wrestling background, what my body can and can’t do, knowing my strengths and weaknesses, I feel like I’ll be comfortable in any position.
“Overall, you said like 90 percent of his wins are by submission, so overall his game is the jiu-jitsu, his standup isn’t particularly that great. Like I said, we have a great game plan and if wrestling had belts, I’d be a black belt, my wrestling level is very high level, and I’m excited to get in there and showcase it.”
Mendes was a decorated Division 1 wrestler at Cal Poly University, who was undefeated during his senior year of competition.
29 months into his professional career, Mendes made his UFC debut and did so in impressive fashion by dominating Michihiro Omigawa for three rounds.
Omigawa came into the fight on a five fight win streak and many felt that the Japanese standout would present Mendes with his toughest test to date. That didn’t hold true and Mendes put the division on notice that a new superstar has arrived on the scene.
“As far as nerves and stuff go, it really didn’t feel any different,” Mendes said. “I was treating it just like any other fight that I’ve fought in the different organizations I’ve been in. Overall, I wasn’t any extra nervous because it was the UFC, but it felt great to get in there and fight, and get to showcase my standup a little bit. Omigawa’s a tough guy and it’s always a great feeling beating a tough guy.”
The newest task at hand for Mendes will be Yahya on Saturday night and a victory will warrant a title shot.
A championship he was rumored to be fighting for at UFC 133, but an injury to divisional king Jose Aldo put the bout on hold. Rather than risk being on the sidelines for months waiting for Aldo to return to full health, Mendes chose to remain active.
“Exactly,” Mendes said. “I haven’t even been fighting for three-years yet, and sitting out for nine-months isn’t something that I ever want to do. Especially, this early in my career, every fight I’m getting so much better and nine months is a long time to not do anything. For me, I truly believe that everything happens for a reason and some people are criticizing and asking why wouldn’t I just wait for the title shot, but everything happens for a reason. I’m going to take it one fight at a time, and when my time comes it’s going to be there.
“I’ll have that belt eventually.”
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