Jose Aldo was supposed to fight Conor McGregor in a highly anticipated match at UFC 189 in Las Vegas on July 11. After fracturing his rib during a sparring session, however, Aldo is out and Chad Mendes is in.
And Mendes found out in the best way possible: his girlfriend told him during a training session.
“I was working strategy, doing some training with my coaches and some teammates, and she was working out in the gym, just (using) some of the machines in the back,’ Mendes said on CBS Sports Radio’s Ferrall on the Bench. “And she comes running over (and says), ‘They just announced it!’ and stopped us mid-workout. Everyone was just kind of celebrating. It was cool. Then I just went right back to work.”
When the fight with McGregor (17-2, 15 KOs) rolls around, Mendes (17-2, 7 KOs) will only have had a few weeks to prepare. Does that make it harder to get ready?
“I took one other fight (on short notice),” Mendes said. “It was my second WEC fight. I tok it on two weeks notice as well and I ended up (winning). It was actually in Sacramento in front of the hometown crowd. It was pretty damn cool. I got to go out there and I submitted the guy in the first round. So it can be tough. Obviously it’s not ideal. Anytime I fight a five-round fight I like to have a full 10 weeks of training camp to really fine tune and peak and get everything perfect, but this is real life. Nothing’s perfect. You get an opportunity like this, you jump on it. I stay healthy year round and I try to stay as close to fight weight as possible without being uncomfortable all the time. I try to stay in decent shape, so when I get a call like this for a giant fight like this, I’m able to do it. I got it within 24 hours of (Aldo’s injury) going viral. I was talking to Dana (White) and was considered the backup. They asked me and I said, ‘Show me the contract and I’ll sign that baby right now.’ So it was something that was done very fast.”
Scott Ferrall asked Mendes if he’s ever wanted to beat someone up more than McGregor.
“Nobody, man,” Mendes said. “The guy just loves hearing himself talk. He probably sits there and just talks to himself in the mirror every night. It gets annoying as hell listening to him talk. I had to do a conference call with him for an hour. It gets annoying.”
It’s also effective. McGregor has won 13 straight fights.
“I think a lot of these guys he’s fought, he gets in their head mentally as far as the athletics part of it goes,” Mendes said. “He kind of breaks them before. But this is a sport that I feel like I’ve been preparing for my entire life. I started wrestling when I was 5 years old. Never took the year off. Wrestled all the way up through college. I was an NCAA runner-up my senior year. I’ve faced guys like that, the guys that’ll sit there and talk crap in your ear when you’re wrestling or they’re doing kind of the cheap shot moves when you’re on bottom or on top and you deal with it. You find a way to beat those guys. You listen to what they’re saying, you put it in the back of your mind and you keep going and doing what you need to do. So this is nothing new. He’s a talker. He’s selling fights. The guy sometimes says things that I don’t even think he can believe is true. It’s going to be fun to get in there and beat the hell out of this guy.”