Everything in Chad Mendes’ career right now is one fight at a time.
Actually, truth be told, the former UFC featherweight title challenger wasn’t necessarily even looking to compete one more time after retiring in 2018, but when BKFC came calling with an offer and an opportunity he couldn’t refuse, Mendes decided to return.
He picked up an impressive win in his bare-knuckle fighting debut, but then Mendes stood at the same crossroads again. The 37-year-old veteran had businesses and investments to keep him busy enough to never fight again, but then Mendes got another call that immediately piqued his interest.
“Honestly, I didn’t know if I was going to be fighting again after that last one,” Mendes said on The Fighter vs. The Writer. “It was kind of hit and miss. I had a ton of other stuff business-wise I was doing, so it was kind of put on the backburner a little bit. We kept in touch with Bare-Knuckle here and there throughout the last year, but it wasn’t until the beginning of this year when they said we’ve got a couple of big names we’re signing and one of them is Eddie [Alvarez], and we want to talk. I was like, ‘Let’s get a contract right now.’
“That’s a fight, that’s an opponent I would step away from everything else to get in there and do it. That’s pretty much what happened.”
A former UFC lightweight champion with a storied history in the sport, Eddie Alvarez has long been considered an MMA legend, with stints across numerous major promotions including Bellator and ONE Championship. After his time in the Singapore-based organization came to an end, Alvarez signed with BKFC.
Receiving an offer to fight Alvarez along with a very lucrative payday was exactly the incentive Mendes needed to compete again at this stage in his career.
“Me and [Urijah] Faber talked about this years ago,” Mendes explained. “You want to get to the point where you’re not so reliant on the fighting as far as money, like you have to do it, which is where I feel like I’m at in life. These big opportunities come up, you can pick and choose. What do you want to do? You don’t have to do it but it’s an opportunity.
“This is a huge f****** opportunity. This is huge. I get to get in there and compete against a guy that’s been in the sport for a long time, somebody that I think I can beat and add that name to the résumé.”
Beyond the name value that Alvarez represents, Mendes confesses that the money he was offered by BKFC was just too good to pass up on.
It was the kind of paycheck that Mendes wishes he had more often when competing in the UFC, and while he’s not retroactively complaining, he’s very thankful that he’s earning that money now.
“This is the biggest payday of my career,” Mendes revealed. “You bust your ass, you get to this point, and then I retired and I never see those paydays basically, and then these opportunities pop up and it’s the paydays I’ve been looking for my entire UFC career.
“Obviously, I don’t want to say it’s a no-brainer because there’s a lot of thought that goes into it for me and my family. Fighting in general is just dangerous, but I just feel when I left the UFC, I was still in my prime. I didn’t leave because I felt like I was done, I was too old, I was getting passed up. I was still fighting and competing with the best guys in the world.”
Much like the aftermath of his previous fight in BKFC, Mendes can’t say for certain if his upcoming matchup against Alvarez may end up as his final appearance in combat sports. There was a good chance his BKFC debut could have just as easily been the only time he ever fought in bare-knuckle competition, but then Mendes got the offer to face Alvarez with the hefty payday attached.
A win on Saturday won’t be the determining factor in his future, but Mendes is honest enough to admit that he couldn’t imagine a much better conclusion to his career if that really is the end.
“I don’t know if this is going to be the last fight or not,” Mendes said. “We’ll just kind of see how this one goes and kind of reassess, but if it is, f***, this is the way to go out.
“A guy like Eddie, get in there and beat him and then hang them up. I don’t know. We’ll have to see. I keep going back and forth with my wife and all my buddies, everybody kind of wants me to hang it up after this, but we’ll see.”
As far as the fight goes, Mendes is ready to throw hands with a brute like Alvarez, whose career has been built around being one of the most exciting fighters in the sport, with a long list of memorable battles on his résumé.
Of course, Alvarez has also absorbed a lot of punishment during those many wars, and it’s hard to get back what is lost from the damage done during a career like his.
Mendes is definitely curious to test Alvarez’s chin on Saturday, because he knows the kind of power he possesses — and that could spell disaster for a fighter who may no longer be able to weather those storms.
“The best thing [about Eddie] is he’s had a very long career, he’s fought many times, but he’s been in so many wars that we’ve all enjoyed more than anything to watch, but that s*** does catch up to you,” Mendes said. “He’s obviously older now. He’s been out of the game for two years when we fight. Those last few years, especially, he got into some big wars or got knocked out. I don’t know what’s going to happen. I just don’t know what Eddie is going to show up, so we’re preparing for the best Eddie possible. We’ll find out.
“I think the first big punch I land on him, we’re going to see if Eddie really wants to be in there or that he just wants a paycheck to get out.”