Chad Mendes may not be looking past his next opponent, but judging the questions he received during a recent fan Q&A session, the fans are looking past Mendes' next opponent for him.
Mendes (15-1) is scheduled to face Nik Lentz (24-5-2-1) at UFC on Fox 9 in December. However, most of the fight related questions the fans threw at Mendes, the No. 1 ranked fighter in the UFC's featherweight division didn't focus on the No. 8 ranked Lentz. Instead, Mendes was asked a number of questions about the fighter that handed him the solitary blemish on his record, UFC featherweight champion Jose Aldo.
That line of questioning is understandable. Lentz is kind of an under the radar fighter for the casual fan. Despite putting together a three-fight winning streak since dropping to featherweight Lentz isn't as sexy a topic of conversation as Aldo. After all, Aldo is unbeaten in his last 16 fights, and he is the man that knocked out Mendes with a knee to the head in the main event of UFC 142.
Since that defeat, Mendes has gone on a four fight unbeaten streak. Each of those four fights ended by knockout or TKO. Mendes' most recent TKO came at UFC 164 where he stopped Clay Guida in the third round. It was the first time in 44 professional bouts that Guida had ever been TKO'd.
One person that is getting a lot of praise from Mendes has been Team Alpha Male head coach Duane Ludwig, but he's not the only one that's been a part of Mendes' team for his recent winning streak:
One other person I've had in my corner for my last four fights and I've had four knockouts is my dad. My dad's been a huge inspiration in my life. He got me into wrestling when I was five-years-old and coached me all the way up through high school.
If Mendes does get past Lentz, he made it clear that he would like his next opponent to be Aldo. Aldo, currently on the mend from the broken foot he suffered in his most recent title defense over Chan Sung Jung at UFC 163 does not have an opponent lined up for his next fight. There has been some discussion that Aldo will face No. 2 ranked Ricardo Lamas at UFC 169 in February, but that fight has not been confirmed.
If the Aldo versus Lamas fight does happen, Mendes will be throwing his support behind the champion. Mendes wouldn't mind facing Lamas for the UFC title, but he clearly wants to avenge his loss to Aldo:
I believe that Lamas would be the easier fight for me, but I don't want that. I want to be the guy to beat Aldo, I want to be the guy to dethrone him. A lot of people say that Aldo's unbeatable. I think it would be more of an accomplishment to beat Aldo. He's beat (Urijah) Faber, he's beaten me, and I think it would be a cool ending for the story.
Mendes is confident that things would be different if he was given a second shot at Aldo:
There's going to be some things that will be different the second time I fight him. My standup back then, I wasn't comfortable with it. I feel a lot more confident and comfortable with it now, and I would like to mix it up more. I think I'm a completely different fighter. I've seen improvements in his game as well, so it's going to be interesting.
Mendes' path back to Aldo will begin on December 14 at the Sleep Train Arena in Sacramento, California when he faces Lentz.
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