Chad Mendes knew it was a risk accepting Saturday’s UFC interim featherweight championship bout against Conor McGregor on just three weeks’ notice.
But he also knew a victory over McGregor was his best chance at a third fight against champion Jose Aldo, who withdrew from his bout against McGregor because of a rib injury.
So after McGregor stunned Sacramento-based Mendes on a technical knockout with three seconds left in the second round Saturday night at the MGM Grand Garden Arena, it’s no surprise Mendes wants another shot at McGregor.
“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.”
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When McGregor caught Mendes flat-footed with a left, it was a sudden ending to the fight for Mendes, who had four takedowns and controlled the fight until the decisive blow.
I was pretty (darn) tired, honestly, at the end of that round.
Mendes admitted he made a mistake by going for a submission instead of continuing to use his elbow strikes, which had been effective on the ground.
“I felt like I had complete control on top,” Mendes said. “I felt like there wasn’t a whole lot he could do.”
But did the little preparation time make Mendes change his normal strategy?
“Honestly, I try not to think about it,” Mendes said. “I know what I have to do, the game plan I’ve got to go in there and try to do it. Sometimes your mind is willing, but your body is not, and that’s basically what happened.
“There’s not a whole lot I can say about it other than Conor was the better man and I’d absolutely love to get back in there and fight that guy again with a full training camp.”
It was Mendes’ third attempt at winning the championship. He lost both times against Aldo for his only previous losses.
Now, instead of Mendes getting a rematch against Aldo, McGregor will take on the champion.
Both of Mendes’ previous losses were to Jose Aldo.
Mendes wouldn’t make a prediction.
“I’m just going to say Jose is a different beast,” Mendes said. “It’s a fight that I’m looking forward to watching.”
Mendes has reason to believe he will get another title shot. Even with the loss, few can match his résumé.
“Chad is a legit No. 1 guy in the world,” UFC President Dana White said. “The only guy he’s ever lost to (before Saturday) is Jose Aldo.”
Mendes would love to prove that to McGregor with ample preparation. Maybe then his mind and body would be willing to execute his game plan.
Jason Jones: @mr_jasonjones