Chad Mendes’ first impression of the BKFC couldn’t have gone much better.
The three-time UFC featherweight title challenger was victorious in his bare-knuckle boxing debut, outclassing opponent “Famez” and knocking him out in the fourth round of their fight at BKFC KnuckleMania 2 this past Saturday in Hollywood, Fla.
Much of the talk leading into the the 36-year-old’s first BKFC fight revolved around whether this would be a one-off or if it could be the start of a comeback for Mendes, who last fought for the UFC in December 2018. On The MMA Hour on Wednesday, Mendes put his return into perspective.
“For me now, fighting isn’t something that I have to do for money,” Mendes said. “Fighting, especially this fight, it’s all a bonus. I still have that competitive drive and wanted to get back in there and compete again. So I guess there was probably less weight on my shoulders.
“The pay part of it, back in the mixed martial arts days, where it’s like if you lose you only get half your money, that weighs on you. And I didn’t have the businesses. I have multiple businesses now outside of fighting that are doing well and are fun, and that’s kind of like my bread and butter now, and like I said, this is just a bonus.”
Mendes added that he was paid more for this fight than any of his UFC fights, including his UFC 189 headlining bout against Conor McGregor in 2015. For that bout, which took place in Las Vegas, Mendes received a disclosed payout of $500,000. It is not known if Mendes received any percentage of the pay-per-view revenue or if he received any other discretionary bonuses for that fight.
He did not provide an exact figure when asked about his BKFC salary, saying only that it was “close to [the Conor payout], but yeah, more.”
Ahead of Saturday’s fight, Mendes told the media that he is still under UFC contract even while signing a three-fight deal with the BKFC. Mendes isn’t sure why the UFC permitted him to pursue this opportunity, but he is grateful that the process went smoothly.
“My managers figured it all out,” Mendes said. “I didn’t really ask too much, as soon as we got the yes and the contract to sign, I said, ‘That’s good. Let’s go.’”
“It’s so awesome to see [the UFC] doing that,” he added. “I honestly expected a, ‘Hell no,’ like, ‘You’re not going anywhere.’ They were super cool about it. They were like, ‘Look, we’re not gonna keep you from making this type of money for your family. We’ll give you the blessing. Go do it.’ It was really, really cool of them.”
Mendes described his BKFC debut as “the most fun I’ve ever had,” not just for what occurred on fight night, but in preparation for the event as well. He described his training as being far less stressful on his body due to being able to focus solely on one combat sports discipline, and he had an easier weight cut as he competed at 155 pounds, 10 pounds over the featherweight limit he fought at for the majority of his career.
Next, he wants to take a step back from thinking about fighting before deciding if he’ll step into the BKFC ring again.
“I had a really good time,” Mendes said. “My answer to that is this: Leading up to this, I was saying, I don’t know. ‘I don’t know if I’m gonna love this or I’m gonna hate it.’ I loved it, it was fun, that was really cool.
“But let me spend a couple of weeks with my family and I’m gonna just disconnect from this stuff after all the interviews and media for a little bit, and really step back and look at my life and what this means. Do I need to do this? Am I being selfish basically wanting to get in there and compete? Or is it something that makes sense?”
Asked if he was leaning towards another BKFC booking, he replied, “That’s fair enough to say.”
The UFC still has a contractual hold over Mendes, so it remains to be seen if the organization will leave Mendes’ path unimpeded in the future. However, Mendes acknowledged that there’s also an outside chance he would consider fighting for the UFC again should promotion officials propose negotiating a new contract.
“I’d be open to talking, but it would have to be really good money,” Mendes said. “Mainly because I just have some successful stuff going on outside the fight game, I feel good about life, and for me to really put all that stuff back on hold to get back in there and train full-time, it’s got to be worth it, for sure.”