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UFC 232’s Chad Mendes talks Volkanovski, grilling elk hearts, and the real 145 lb G.O.A.T.

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Check out Body Elbow’s interview with #5 ranked UFC featherweight Chad Mendes ahead of his UFC 232 tilt with Alexander Volkanovski on December 29, 2018.

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After a Performance of the Night earning outing against Myles Jury this past July, the UFC’s #5 ranked featherweight Chad Mendes is gearing up to face the #10 ranked Alexander Volkanovski at UFC 232 on December 29th, 2018. Bloody Elbow caught up with Mendes to discuss the benefits of eating wild game and the ways in which he prepares his meat, specifically elk heart (with photos). Mendes is also asked about what made him accept a matchup with someone ranked below him, instead of a matchup with someone ranked above him. Mendes also breaks down his upcoming bout with Volkanovski, and then gives his opinion on who the real G.O.A.T. is at 145-pounds.

**The complete interview video can be seen at the top of the page.

“It’s been good, man. We’re all wrapped up for 2018. We’ll be launching our 2019 schedule right in the beginning of January, but 2018 was a huge success. We had a ton of clients. We had a lot of people that were able to tag out, take a bunch of organic free range meat home, make some awesome memories. A lot of those guys are returning clients from past years, so we’ll just continue to keep those guys going and hopefully add some new ones each year, and keep growing the business. It’s been good man.”

  • What would you say are the biggest advantages of eating wild game?

“Other than it just being a little healthier than a lot of the meats that are bought in the store, it’s not pumped full of a bunch of hormones and who knows what. For me, it’s knowing the animal has lived a free and wild life, you know, not just stuck in a cage in its own shit and piss and being mistreated and stuff. For me, it’s just a little bit more peace of mind. As far as health goes, wild game is a lot leaner than your corn-fed beef and all the other stuff put into the system there. A little bit more protein as well. I know protein per ounce is a lot higher in a lot of the wild game, compared to beef, and chicken, and pork.”

  • The last time we spoke you talked about your crazy grill with the wood burning chips. Is that how you’re still preparing your meat?

“The Traeger, man. It’s the Traeger lifestyle, man. It’s awesome. I have the Timberline 850 and have one of the portable ones now too, the Tailgater. It’s so awesome, man, just being able to go outside and turn a knob. It’s a wood pellet grill, so it has like an auger that feeds it straight into the little fire pot. So, if I want to go to what, 375, I just turn the dial to 375. The auger sends the pellet speed being fed into the fire pot at a certain speed, and it stays at the temperature I want it.”

“Not only that, the smoke. I love smoking meats. If you saw my Instagram, you’re a little bit ahead of me over there [Phuket, Thailand] but I did an elk heart just a few hours ago. I seasoned it, it’s actually only half of it. Elk hearts are extremely big. So, I halved it, I seasoned it all up, and then I smoked it for about two hours on the Traeger grill. Then, I turned it up to about 400 and finished it off, and then sliced it real thin and put it on a big salad. I put some pictures on my [Instagram] story if you want to check it out, but it turned out good.”

  • What is your Instagram handle so everyone can follow also?

“It’s just @ChadMendes and it’s M-E-N-D-E-S not a Z.”

  • I don’t think I’ve ever had elk heart. What’s the taste like?

“Have you ever had beef heart?”

  • Negative. I don’t think I’ve ever had heart period.

“So it kind of has the same texture, if cooked right, like a filet mignon. It’s like really dense but very tender. It has like almost kind of an irony taste, but it’s almost like a sweet irony taste. It’s kind of hard to explain, but if you cook it right it’s super tender. Like the way I did it, I just smoked it. So I had a smoke ring around the outside of it, and I sliced it off and then just like threw it real quick on the grill for the grill marks, just for like extra flavor. I like heart.”

  • I’ve never considered eating heart, but you really do make it sound delicious. I might have to venture out and try it.

“You should try it, man. I highly recommend it, if it’s cooked right. I’ve had it before where it wasn’t very good, but if it’s cooked right it’s good. I promise.”

  • The last time we saw you in the cage, you had a Performance of the Night outing against Myles Jury back in July. Afterwards, we spoke and I asked you about Alexander Volkanovski, who called you out after his win over your teammate Darren Elkins. You said you thought it was a great stylistic matchup for you, but also admitted that it was a backwards step for you, outside of a payday. What changed for you to accept the fight?

“It’s the only fight that they would give me.”

  • Really?

“They wouldn’t give me anybody else. I wanted to fight the winner of Frankie and Zombie, and they just said that was going to be too long of a timeframe off. I said I’d be willing to wait, but ultimately, the UFC is the boss, and I got to do whatever they say. Alex is now the one on the radar. Obviously, in my mind a step backwards, only because he’s ranked below me, not because I don’t think he’s tough. I obviously think he’s a tough dude. It’s me just having to be on my A game. This is a guy that’s trying to make his way up in the rankings. He’s a young up and comer. I can’t let that happen. I got to go out there, I got to destroy this guy and just keep moving forward.”

  • Volkanovski is known to get in people’s faces, take them down, and get to work with his ground strikes. Chad Mendes is quite the wrestler who possesses big power in his punches. Are you going to force Volkan to stand with you?

“In all his fights leading up to this, he’s always been the bully in there. He basically is able to dictate the pace, dictate where the fight goes, and I think this is going to be a big awakening for him not being able to do that. I think my wrestling is going to be better than his. I feel like I’m faster. He hits hard, obviously talking to Darren, going over things with him. I just have to make sure my fight I.Q. is on point the entire three rounds, if it goes that long. And just make sure that I’m doing exactly what we practiced in this training camp and I win this fight.”

  • After this, are you gunning for Max Holloway?

“Of course, man. That’s always the next step, hopefully. Like I said, ultimately it’s up to the UFC, but I would love to get in there and fight a guy like Max. I really like Max. I think the guy’s a great champion, he’s respectful, he’s a family man. It’d be an honor to get in there and fight a guy like Max. So, if I get in there and beat Alex and they say that’s the next step for me, I’m all in.”

  • You’ve been in the cage with prime Jose Aldo, Conor McGregor, Frankie Edgar, etc. There’s a lot of talk right now about who is the G.O.A.T. at 145-pounds. How would you weigh in on that topic?

“That’s me bro haha. What’s crazy about this sport, is that it’s tough to find one person to say that’s the greatest. I feel like any of us, on any given night, could beat any one of each other. This is a sport that anything can happen. These are little gloves. We’re all very talented in different areas and whoever’s having the better night that night is going to be the champ. To say someone is the greatest, I don’t know about all that, but I think all of us are right up in there.”

Watch the 18-4 Chad “Money” Mendes lock horns with the 18-1 Alexander Volkanovski at UFC 232 on December 29, 2018. Stay tuned to Bloody Elbow for all of your UFC event coverage including interviews, play-by-play, highlights, and more!