Three-time UFC title challenger, Chad Mendes, has officially retired from MMA.
Mendes returned to action at UFC 232 in December where he suffered a knockout loss to Alexander Volkanovski. Following this, reports emerged that the Team Alpha Male star was set to retire from the sport with the former featherweight challenger officially announcing his retirement through ESPN’s Brett Okamoto.
“The main reason I didn’t say something sooner was there were some loose ends I wanted to tie up,” Mendes said.
“I wanted to step away for a little bit and let everything settle, and just make sure my feelings didn’t change, as I was coming right out of a training camp and a fight.
“And they haven’t, man. It’s just that time for me. I have no regrets. I had an amazing time, being able to come right out of college wrestling and join an amazing team. All these guys at Team Alpha Male [in Sacramento] are like brothers to me. It was fun. But I always said, right off the bat, I’ll probably fight until 35 and reassess.
“My wife and I spoke before this last training camp, and we knew going in this was the last one.”
The former collegiate level wrestler began his professional MMA career in 2008 before going on an 11-fight win streak that earned him a title shot against long-time champions, Jose Aldo. Mendes would lose the bout but challenged Aldo again two years later in what was widely regarded as the fight of the year in 2014.
He would then challenge Conor McGregor at UFC 189 in July 2015 in what was the organisation’s biggest ever event at that time. Mendes outwrestled the Irishman throughout but ultimately gassed out after taking the fight on two week’s notice and was finished on the feet by McGregor in the second round.
Mendes would ultimately miss the entirety of 2016 and 2017 after a failed drug test. Speaking to Okamoto, Mendes reflected on his second fight with Jose Aldo as his greatest moment in MMA.
“Even though I didn’t win the fight, I think that was my peak,” Mendes said.
“It’s probably the best I ever felt in any fight. It was probably the most focused I ever was. Aldo was the best fighter at the time. That’s what’s so cool about the sport. It’s you and another human in there.
“All the mental game that goes into it. The dieting. There’s so much preparation, and then you in there against another human being and one of you wins. That’s what makes it special.”
Mendes closes out his career with an 18-5 record.