The memory of his loss to Conor McGregor at UFC 189 still haunts Chad Mendes, as he told ESPN’s Brett Okamoto on his ‘Five Rounds With‘ podcast.
Then-UFC featherweight champion Jose Aldo was due to herald McGregor’s arrival on the pay-per-view main event scene on July 11 of 2015. With little more than two weeks to the fight, Aldo withdrew due to a rib injury, giving perennial contender Chad Mendes an opportunity to challenge for the 145lb. belt for a third time.
Not ideal preparation, but ‘Money’ Mendes nonetheless gave a great account of himself in going two rounds with ‘The Notorious’, before succumbing to a TKO stoppage.
He lamented his lack of cardio in a recent interview, and isn’t optimistic about facing the Irishman ever again.
“I wish I could have a rematch with a full camp, I know that I would beat a guy like that”, Mendes told Brett Okamoto.
“Getting in there and feeling him and knowing that if I was in shape I would’ve done what I did in the first two rounds for the entire fight. It bums me out because I know he’ll never come back down to featherweight.”
“It’s nothing that I’m going to lose sleep over. It’s not just knowing that I can beat him, if I had won that fight there might not be a Conor McGregor fight Mayweather right now, it could have completely changed the course of where he’s at now. When I got the call I was salmon fishing and drinking a beer, I was in no shape for a title fight against a guy much bigger than me. “
On the Mayweather fight itself, the 32-year-old is pulling for his MMA colleague, but doesn’t see the lightweight champion achieving the impossible.
“As much as I want to give him the win, it’s tough to say that he will.”
The biggest obstacle to a Mendes/McGregor rematch isn’t necessarily the weight difference. Having lost to Frankie Edgar in his next fight in December 2015, Mendes was flagged by USADA after testing positive for a prohibited substance, and was banned from MMA competition for two years.
He will not be eligible to compete again until June 10, 2018.