UFC 189 marked the third time Chad Mendes had stepped into the Octagon to challenge for the featherweight title, and the third time he walked away empty handed. 'Money' had only lost to divisional kingpin Jose Aldo before meeting Conor McGregor on July 11th, and it was the Irishman who crushed Mendes' championship dream again when he stole the interim featherweight belt with a second-round TKO.
The Californian revealed to MMAFighting that the loss still haunts him one month on, admitting that he sometimes lies awake pondering what could have been.
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"It's something I still think about," Mendes said. ""It hurts to watch."
"Sometimes [I] lay in bed still thinking about it. It's definitely going to take some time to get over it, but you know, that's just part of the game."
The Team Alpha Male fighter took the fight with McGregor on just two weeks' notice, as champion Jose Aldo was forced to pull out due to a rib injury. Mendes was visibly exhausted from the second round and fans cited his short training camp as the reason for his questionable conditioning.
Mendes, however, believes McGregor's pressure boxing style was also a contributing factor.
"His only way of beating me was tagging me on the feet. And you know, he does a really good job of being in your face. He has that, like, Diaz style of punching. But anyone who can move around and stay light on their feet and take this dude down wins that fight every single time. I just, after scrambling around, and fighting for the amount of time that I did, I just wasn't able to get back to my feet and be light on my feet."
While the #3 ranked featherweight believes The Notorious's exhaustive fighting style took the wind out of his sails, Mendes acknowledges that with a full training camp the outcome would have been different.
"I'm not making excuses. I'm not sitting here saying that's the reason why I lost. But I feel that if I am completely prepared for that fight, I win that fight. Every single time."
There will be no rematch for the foreseeable future, however, as Conor McGregor will finally lock horns with Jose Aldo in a title unification bout on December 12th in Las Vegas, Nevada.