You won’t find many who would give Chad Mendes anything but credit in spite of a loss.
Mendes took Saturday’s UFC featherweight interim championship bout against Conor McGregor on two week’s notice after champion Jose Aldo withdrew because of a rib injury.
It wasn’t a complete surprise that McGregor would be able to pull off the win, which came via technical knockout with three seconds left in the second round Saturday night at MGM Grand Garden Arena.
It’s also no surprise Mendes would love another opportunity to face McGregor again with a full training camp.
Mendes was admittedly fatigued when McGregor caught him flat-footed with a left and that ended the fight three seconds before the bell.
It was sudden ending to the fight for the Sacramento-based Mendes, whose wrestling had him in control of the fight.
“I was pretty (darn) tired honestly at the end of that round,” Mendes said. “But I took that fight on short notice, it’s the risk I was taking and I’d absolutely love to get back in there with a full training camp so hopefully we can make that happen.”
Mendes had plenty of reasons to feel about what he did. He had four takedowns and controlled most of the fight.
Mendes’ elbow strikes were effective on the ground and admitted he made a mistake by going for a submission instead of continuing to use his elbows strikes.
“I felt like I had complete control on top,” Mendes said. “I felt like there wasn’t a whole lot he could do.”
But would Mendes have taken the chance to go for a submission with more time to prepare? Did the short notice make him change what he’d normally do in a fight?
“Honestly I try not to think about it,” Mendes said. “I know what I have to do, the gameplan I’ve got to go in there and try to do it and sometimes your mind is willing but your body is not and that’s basically what happened (Saturday). There’s not a whole lot I can say about it other than Conor was the better man (Saturday) and I’d absolutely love to get back in there and fight that guy again with a full training camp.”
It was Mendes’ third try at winning the championship.
McGregor’s win sets up a blockbuster against Aldo, the only man to beat Mendes (17-3) before McGregor pulled off the knockout.
Mendes was asked for a prediction since he’s fought both.
“I’m just going to say Jose is a different beast,” Mendes said of McGregor-Aldo. “It’s a fight that I’m looking forward to watching.”
Mendes has reason to believe he will get another shot at the title. Even with the loss, there aren’t many who can match his resume.
“Chad is a bad-ass legit, number one guy in the world,” said UFC president Dana White. “The only guy he’s ever lost to (before Saturday) is Jose Aldo.”
Mendes would love to prove that to McGregor with ample time to prepare. Maybe then his mind and body will be willing to execute his gameplan.