Chad Mendes has spoken to FOX Sports about the moment he found out that he would be replacing Jose Aldo in the headline fight at UFC 189 on July 11th against Conor McGregor for the interim featherweight title.
“I just found out maybe two or three hours ago,” Mendes said. “I was actually training and my girlfriend was at the gym and I was hitting mitts and she interrupted the workout and goes ‘it’s official!’ and we all stopped and looked and she was holding up her phone and it was posted on Instagram. That’s basically how I found out.”
Mendes had been drafted in as a back-up by the UFC last week after word first broke that the 145lb division’s current champion Aldo had suffered a rib injury in training, leaving him doubtful for his bout with McGregor, leaving him in an uncomfortable position, not knowing for sure whether he’d fight or not, but the current No.1 contender in the division says he’d already convinced himself it was going to happen.
“Since I found out I was the backup, I knew I was fighting Conor. Nothing has changed in my mind except it’s gone public. I’m excited. This is a huge opportunity and something I’ve worked my entire life for. I’m not passing this up.”
Stepping into a fight of this magnitude on such short notice isn’t ideal, but Mendes insists that he’ll be ready to take care of business in less than a fortnight’s time in Las Vegas.
“I’ve got two weeks to get as sharp as I can. I live a healthy lifestyle so I’m in pretty decent shape year round, so I’ve been hitting it hard as soon as I found out. So I’m just kind of fine tuning it now, but I’ll stay injury free and get that weight down. You guys should see the original O.G. Chad Mendes get in there on July 11 and whoop some ass.”
Mendes brings to the table something that perhaps Aldo wouldn’t have against McGregor, and that’s his top-flight wrestling which he thinks could be the key to derailing McGregor’s hype train.
“We have not seen him with many fighters that have the wrestling, that have the explosiveness to get inside and close the distance on him. The fights that I’ve seen him lose, those guys were able to get him down on the ground.
“That right where I feel is a huge hole. I think my style with my wrestling, my athleticism, my speed, and the ability to knock somebody out, the power in my hands, I feel like that’s a sh**tier fight for him.”