Winning a gold medal at the prestigious Abu Dhabi Combat Club used to be followed by good offers in the MMA world, but that’s been the opposite for Augusto Mendes.
”Tanquinho” climbed to the top of the ADCC podium two years after leaving the UFC, defeating four opponents to be crowned the world’s best 145-pound grappler in California in 2019. Unfortunately for the jiu-jitsu ace, he’s experiencing a struggle in his search for more opportunities in the cage.
Mendes hasn’t fought under MMA rules since a split decision defeat to Igor Zhirkov at ACA 96 in June 2019, “when they robbed pretty bad” against “a Russian in a Russian promotion.” The setback dropped Mendes’ MMA record to 6-3, which includes a short 1-2 run in the UFC with a win over Frankie Saenz sandwiched between losses to Cody Garbrandt and Aljamain Sterling.
“I won the ADCC title after my last (MMA) fight and I believed it would help me get new opportunities, but I think it was the opposite,” Mendes said in an interview with MMA Fighting. “Because I won the biggest grappling tournament in the world, it looks like small promotions, everyone’s running away (from me). I can’t find an opponent to fight.
“What I hear from the promotions is that I’m a tough fight. Guys with good record don’t want to take risks, and guys with bad record feel it’s already bad so they don’t want to take risks and make it worse. Time is passing by and I can’t get a fight.”
“Tanquinho” has decided in favor of a permanent move to 145 pounds to get rid of the extra weight cutting because “I never had a performance in MMA compared to what I can do in the gym, and I believe weight cutting is one of the factors.”
Yet, the multiple-time grappling world champion still feels other featherweights are avoiding to get in a cage with him.
“I’m fighting at 145 now, which is the weight I feel better at, the weight I became champion at ADCC and where I’m considered the best grappler in the world, and I still can’t get a fight,” Mendes said. “It’s frustrating, and the clock is ticking.
“I believe I have a lot more to show, I will get far in this division, but something is missing. I don’t know if it’s investment or attention from promotions, I don’t know what it is exactly, but it’s making me lose time and consider not fighting again, but I know what I’m capable of. I just need an opportunity. Whatever the promotion, I’m not even choosing.
“I spoke with the biggest promotions in the United States outside of the UFC and Bellator and no one can get me a fight. I don’t know what I have to do to get a fight. I hope I can get one in early 2021 and make my debut in this new weight class and get to show why I’m the best grappler in this division.”