The main-card opener at The Forum in Inglewood, Calif., lived it up to expectations, as the duo went tooth-in-nail, particularly in a back-and-forth banger of a second round.
But while both fighters came close to finishing the bout, it was Volkanovski who got the job done, earning a TKO of the former title challenger at 4:14.
“I just want to shoot up these ranks,” Volkanovski said. “I said it from the start, even though I knew he was one of the toughest guys in the division, I knew this is a fight I wanted, he’s a great fight but I’m Alexander the Great.”
The opening round was in large part a matter of both fighters figuring out their timing and range, but doing so at a fast pace and landing just often enough to let each other know.
Then things really picked up in the second. Mendes dropped Volkanovski, went in for the kill after his foe got back to his feet, but a crisp counter stopped that attack. Volkanovski answered with heavy shots of his own. Mendes had two takedowns in the round and went for a rear-naked choke, but couldn’t quite get it.
From there, it was Volkanovski’s time. He landed a body shot, a big right to the head which dropped Mendes on all fours, and then was starting to open up with right hands on his downed foe before it was waved off.
“I’m one of the most powerful guys in this division and I’m put together better than anyone in his division,” Volkanovski said.
Volkanovski is now 19-1 with 16 straight wins. The New South Wales native is 6-0 in the UFC. Sacramento’s Mendes (18-5) has now dropped three of his past four.