Augusto Mendes made a statement in his return to competition.
A little over than two months after being forced out of a UFC Sao Paulo fight with Boston Salmon due to an injury, “Tanquinho" competed at the ACB JJ no-gi 60kg grand prix in Russia last Saturday, and won the belt after three great performances.
Mendes made quick work of Milton Bastos in the quarterfinal, tapping his opponent with a kimura in less than 20 seconds. He took on multiple-time world champion Joao Miyao in the semifinal, winning via points after three rounds. In the final, “Tanquinho" submitted Samir Chantre with a guillotine in the fifth round.
"It was fun,” Mendes told MMA Fighting after returning to the United States. "This is a very dynamic tournament, it’s interesting, and the promotion is growing a lot."
“Tanquinho" loves competing in jiu-jitsu and submission events, and winning ACB tournaments also means extra money in his pocket.
"More than twice, to be honest,” Mendes said when asked how much money he's made at ACB JJ 9 compared to his most recent UFC fight with Aljamain Sterling. "And I even won two bonuses, fastest submission and best fight (vs. Miyao). I made more than twice in jiu-jitsu."
Back to the winning column in the jiu-jitsu world, Mendes hopes to return to the Octagon at UFC 222, scheduled for March 3 in Las Vegas.
"I really want to be on this card because it’s my birthday and it's in Las Vegas, so it’s close to where I live and my family and friends can go there and hang out with me,” Mendes said. "I think it will be a special night for me. I really want to be on this card.”
And even though he’s making more money winning jiu-jitsu tournaments in Russia, the Brazilian grappler says his main goal now is competing in mixed martial arts.
"I just want to fight soon,” he said. "This is my priority. Even though I’m making a good money in jiu-jitsu, MMA is my priority. I don’t choose opponents, whoever they throw at me I will embrace and try to do my best in there."
There’s a chance that “Tanquinho" will get back on the ACB mat before March 3, though, as he plans on entering the jiu-jitsu 65kg grand prix in January — or competing in a super fight.
"ACB is growing a lot here,” Mendes said. "I just won the tournament and they liked my performances. When I won the belt I challenged Paulo (Miyao), who won the grand prix at 65 kilos, so that might happen."
Watch Mendes' ACB 9 wins below.