knows he's an underdog who will face a hostile crowd when he fights UFC
featherweight champion Jose Aldo
in the main event at UFC 142
. But Mendes is brimming with confidence at his chances of taking home the belt.
"I have a good game plan and I'm confident that I'm going to do it -- I'm excited," Mendes said Wednesday. "I think Jose has all the pressure on his shoulders. He's the one fighting in front of his home crowd. He's the one who has the belt. I'm the underdog everyone is overlooking, and I'm confident that the things I'm good at are what's needed to beat him. I'm feeling confident going into this fight."
That's not to say Mendes doesn't think highly of Aldo as an opponent. Mendes knows that Aldo is 20-1 in his MMA
career, and that Aldo has gone 10-0 while dominating all ten opponents since leaving his native Brazil and making his North American debut in 2008. But Mendes thinks he has the right skill set to be the one to finally solve the puzzle of Aldo.
"I don't think Jose has any holes or cracks in his game," Mendes said. But he quickly added, "I feel the same way about my game. I don't have any holes."
Mendes has been working with his friend and training partner Urijah Faber
, who lost a unanimous decision to Aldo in 2010, to formulate a game plan against Aldo. Mendes didn't give away all of his strategies, but he did say he believes other opponents have been too cautious and passive and failed to take the fight to Aldo.
"I've watched his last few fights and that's something that's helped us put together a good game plan for this fight. I've sat down with Urijah," Mendes said. "Fighters stand in front of him too much. You've got to put pressure on Jose. He's the kind who will pick you apart."
Given his wrestling background, it's no surprise that Mendes plans to clinch with Aldo and attempt to take him down.
"Guys have to get their hands on him more," Mendes said. "Honestly, I don't think any of the guys who have fought him have had half the wrestling credentials -- or the wrestling ability -- to get him down and hold him down. I think my strengths are my keys to beating Jose."
Mendes said he has no qualms about going to Brazil and beating a popular local fighter in front of a capacity crowd.
"Beating the champion in his own backyard? To me there's no better way to prove that I'm the best 145-pound fighter," Mendes said. "This is the best shape I've ever been in and I'm excited to get this opportunity."