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Morning Report: Chad Mendes planning to re-evaluate MMA options after bare-knuckle debut, expects he’ll ‘love this or probably hate it’

UFC 232: Mendes v Volkanovski Photo by Christian Petersen/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images

MMA retirements are as mythical as any retirement in sports. Do they truly even exist? As we’ve seen time and time again, not really. That’s why it wouldn’t be stunning to imagine Chad Mendes returning to the cage at some point and he agrees — numbers depending.

The 36-year-old Team Alpha Male staple is set to make his bare-knuckle boxing debut this Saturday night and has already let it be known that he’s being paid quite handsomely. According to “Money,” he’ll make more for his efforts than UFC heavyweight champion Francis Ngannou’s $600,000 for successfully defending against Ciryl Gane at UFC 270.

Despite competing for BKFC now, Mendes (18-5) is still under contract with the UFC. He admits to being surprised by the gesture but also notes that some things would need to be adjusted for a possible return.

“I don’t know. We’ll see on Saturday how this goes,” Mendes told The Schmo regarding an MMA comeback. “I keep telling everyone, I’ve obviously never boxed professionally and I’ve never bare-knuckle boxed professionally. So I’m either gonna go in there and absolutely love this or probably hate it. We’ll see. I’m gonna get in there Saturday night, fight, and I’ll re-evaluate.

“If I ever came back to the UFC, we’d have to re-negotiate a contract cause I’m still at three fights left and it’s just not worth it to me to get back in there. If we ended up talking and renegotiated and it was worth it to me, I might think about it.”

Mendes’ opponent at BKFC’s Knuckle Mania 2, Joshuah Alvarez, already has experience as a boxer whether with or without gloves. While Mendes’ strength has always been in his strong wrestling game, his striking skills improved significantly as his career progressed. It came to a point where we were even able to say Mendes was a prominent finisher among the 145-pound featherweight ranks.

“He’s a pro boxer. I think this is a perfect way for me to test my skill set,” Mendes said of Alvarez. “Getting in there and fighting somebody that is basically a boxer in their sport so wrestling has been my lifelong journey and making that transition into a new sport is exciting so we’ll see, man.”

This return to action will mark Mendes’ first appearance since Dec. 2018 — outside of a 2019 grappling match with Gesias Cavalcante. Following a Fight of the Night with future champion Alexander Volkanovski, Mendes would announce his MMA retirement. It was only his second fight after returning from a three-year layoff due to an out-of-competition failed USADA test. The Hanford, Calif. native tested positive for the growth hormone GHRP-6 which he claimed he was using to treat psoriasis but admitted to “not doing my homework.”

Volkanovski would score a second-round TKO against Mendes which added him into the mix of Jose Aldo, Frankie Edgar, and Conor McGregor, as the only men able to finish the perennial top 5 contender.

Reflecting on Volkanovski’s success since their encounter, Mendes isn’t at all surprised the Australian has gone on to do as well as he has.

“100 percent,” Mendes responded to expectations of Volkanovski becoming champion. “I remember watching that guy fight my teammate Darren Elkins and I knew that guy was probably gonna be a top 3 guy in our division very soon. I knew going into that fight that he was going to be a tough fight and I was right.

“The guy’s definitely proven himself, he’s beat everyone in that division, the toughest guys at the top, and continues to do so. So it was definitely a tough fight and he’s definitely earned it.”


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