The UFC 189 World Tour, featuring Conor McGregor and other people, has sort of usurped all the headlines and storylines over the last couple of weeks. One of the casualties of that traveling attention grab, which has hit ports in Brazil, North America and Europe, has been UFC Fight Night 63, which takes place this Saturday afternoon in Fairfax, Virginia.
And it’s fitting, too, that McGregor’s long shadow should fall over the main eventers of that card, his fellow featherweights Ricardo Lamas and Chad Mendes. If ever there was an indication of the times, it’s how easily McGregor, who fights three months from now, can steal the spotlight from top five contenders in his division, who fight this weekend.
Not that Mendes is upset about which way the spotlights are aimed. He’s more concerned with Lamas. After all, if he doesn’t beat Lamas, he can’t punch McGregor (or the other guy, Jose Aldo) in the face anytime soon.
The Team Alpha Male fighter appeared on Monday’s edition of The MMA Hour, and talked about the UFC 189 fight and what it might mean for his future. For instance, having lost to Aldo twice already, wouldn’t it be better for his title chances if McGregor were to win the belt?
"I mean I think so, yeah, if he wins -- which I highly doubt is going to happen -- but if for whatever reason he were to win, and I win this fight against Ricardo, it’s definitely a great possibility I’m in there," he told Ariel Helwani. "But I just don’t see him beating Aldo honestly."
When asked if he would be pulling for McGregor, whom he has had an ongoing beef with, Mendes said not necessarily.
"No, here’s my situation -- I feel like I’m sitting pretty no matter what happens," he said. "I mean, Aldo is the only guy that’s beat me -- he’s beat me twice now -- and you know it sucks that that’s happened. There’s a lot of guys who don’t get to fight a guy three times after losing to him twice. But, I feel like because that last fight was so close, there’s a lot of fans -- and the UFC -- that would want to make that happen again. If I beat Ricardo, and Aldo wins, hopefully I get to get back in there and try to avenge those two losses. And if for whatever reason Conor wins, then I get to get in there and beat the crap out of him for the belt. I feel like either way, I’m sitting pretty."
Mendes lost to Aldo back at UFC 142 in early 2012 via first-round KO (knee). But it was the second fight with Aldo that everybody has been talking about. In the rematch at UFC 179 in Rio de Janeiro, Mendes lost in a back-and-forth fight on the scorecards. The fight not only garnered him and extra $50,000 for Fight of the Night, but it was considered by many to be the fight of 2014.
Having had that thrilling second fight, Mendes feels he’s not necessarily in a no man’s land if Aldo retains his belt in July. In his mind, that encounter was enough to justify a trilogy fight.
Of course, a lot of things need to happen for that to pan out. In Lamas, Mendes is facing a guy who has won six of seven fights, with his only loss coming against Aldo at UFC 169. And who knows if Aldo will get by McGregor. If he doesn’t, Mendes might have a chance to address some lingering issues he has with the Irishman, dating back to October of last year when BT Sport caught him off guard during a UFC 179 fight week interview.
Just a couple of days before his title challenge against Aldo, Mendes was blindsided during an interview by the presence of one Conor McGregor, who ridiculed him before a live audience. Mendes says all these months later that that episode still irks him a bit.
"I thought that whole thing was pretty much bullsh*t," he said. "I don’t know who set that up, if it was the UFC or if it was those assholes over there. But that was pretty much bullsh*t. They didn’t tell me he was going to be on there. I’m sitting there in Brazil, the quality of the interview sucks, it’s breaking up and I can’t really hear what’s going on over there, can’t see anything, and it’s two days before I’m supposed was to fight for the title. No, I thought the whole thing was bullsh*t. I don’t know who set it up. I’d like to find out and I’d like to stomp somebody, but yeah, it was stupid man. I can’t believe they did that.
"It just sucked on my part, because I couldn’t hear what was going on because the crowd was so loud over there," he said. "Obviously I can’t get anything across, and [Conor’s] probably sitting over there all jolly with his stupid little mustache. It was just kind of a stupid situation. That was something I’d like to do face to face, but at least staring across from him in the Octagon so he can run his mouth and I can whoop his ass after."