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Chad Mendes Discusses Why He Didn't Wait For Jose Aldo

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UFC featherweight Chad Mendes thought he was going to get his shot. UFC President Dana White all but confirmed a UFC 133 title fight between Mendes and Jose Aldo, but he made it clear that it hadn't been signed yet. And Aldo never got around to signing. Aldo claimed on twitter that due to a UFC 129 medical suspension, he wouldn't have had enough time to train for a September matchup. Ed Soares confirmed this. Then two days later, Ed Soares changed his story and said Aldo WAS injured, but it wasn't serious. But it would still mean Aldo couldn't fight at UFC 133. Or something. Honestly, the whole thing seemed a little fishy to me.

Throughout all this confusion, Mendes made it clear he still intended to compete on UFC 133 and he wasn't going to wait for Aldo to recover from his injury, or ride out his suspension, or get the required training time, or...whatever. Mendes wanted to fight. Jonathan Snowden over at SBNation/MMA believes that Mendes wants to maintain his spot on the UFC 133 card for one reason, and his nickname is a dead giveaway of what that reason is. Money.

It's a baffling decision - until you look a little closer, delve into the weeds a little. The culprit? The UFC's notoriously stingy fighter pay. For his last fight in February, Mendes had a base salary of $9,500. Before that he was making $8,500 to fight for the UFC's defunct sister promotion the WEC.  By winning, Mendes doubled that salary, taking home $19,000 for UFC 126 according to the Nevada State Athletic Commission.

Even assuming Mendes walked away with $40,000 from the bout all told (my best estimate for his take home pay including locker room bonuses and sponsor money), fighters burn through cash in preparation for big bouts. The cost of doing business in MMA is astronomical - and unlike big time boxing, the promotion doesn't front fighters training expenses.

It's unconscionable to pay a title contender like Mendes $19,000 to fight. Not only does it necessitate tough decisions like this, it also creates an unbalanced playing field. With that kind of money backing him, Mendes can barely afford a world class training camp and can forget about maintaining a reasonable standard of living. Chad Mendes, the top contender to the featherweight crown, is giving up on a chance to win the championship of the world - likely because of money issues.

Is that the real reason? While he wouldn't be likely to admit it either way, Mendes was on the MMA Hour with Ariel Helwani yesterday and made it clear that he just wants to fight:

"We talked about it," he said. "It definitely is something we were thinking about, but I want to compete. It's frustrating to get in here and train 2-3 times a day hard, every day, and not have a light at the end of the tunnel, a fight to look forward to. That's what motivates me. Getting that opponent, knowing who it is, watching tape on him, that's what motivates me to get in and bust my butt every day. It's frustrating not knowing, so like I said, I just want to compete."

He adds a little more about his reasoning right afterwards:

"I love to fight," he continued. "I want to get in there and compete. I didn't want to wait 8-9 months if he wasn't going to fight. So I decided to go with Rani Yahya, a for-sure fight. I had the contract in front of me, so I took it."

Whatever his thoughts on the subject are, Chad Mendes will have his hands full at UFC 133 with a resurgent Yahya. Is it worth it for him to risk a title shot in his position? Is it just about the money?  Or is the need to compete the overriding factor here? Only Chad Mendes knows the answer to that, but if we see Rani Yahya vs. Jose Aldo for the UFC featherweight title later this year, that 40k in Chad's pocket might not be much of a comfort to him.


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