Chad Mendes hasn’t had it easy over the last 18 months or so.
In October of 2014 he was once again denied featherweight gold by Jose Aldo, after 5 grueling and exhilarating rounds in Rio. Though this was a major disappointment to the California native, he did turn in a tremendous performance that raised his stock in defeat.
A convincing stoppage win over Ricardo Lamas likely eased any residual pain, but things went down hill big time for “Money” from that point on. He was stopped in 2 rounds by Conor McGregor at UFC 189 and then at The Ultimate Fighter 22 Finale he was knocked out in less than 3 minutes by Frankie Edgar.
That brought his record to 1-3 in his previous 4 outings.
To make matters worse, during much of this time, drama had engulfed his base camp at Team Alpha Male. Head coach Duane Ludwig departed under acrimonious circumstances and in doing so caused tension in the camp. Eventually, T.J Dillashaw followed Ludwig’s lead, in a move that began a bitter feud between he an TAM founder Urijah Faber.
Ever since then there has been an ever present uncertainty regarding coaching staff and a constant focus upon the rift from external sources such as the media.
Speaking about the coaching situation, Mendes told Ariel Helwani of The MMA Hour on Monday that they had struggled to find the right person for the job.
“Obviously it’s something that sucks to deal with,” said Mendes. “I mean this is an issue we have been dealing with for a little bit now. It’s tough being a part of it”.
“It’s tough for us in this position trying to find that perfect fit, someone’s that has done it, someone that’s reputable, someone that’s not absolutely insane”.
However, the stress from that situation seems to have been somewhat alleviated with the appointment of longtime team member Justin Buchholz as head coach.
“He’s the type of guy who is awesome to have there,” said the California native. “Buchholz is the type of guy who can pinpoint things and find things going wrong or right within a round”.
Talk about coaching led Helwani to ask Mendes if he had considered taking in some training with the aforementioned Ludwig out in Colorado, like TAM teammate Joseph Benavidez did recently. This question once again brought the complex Faber/Dillashaw/Ludwig feud back into focus and illustrated just how straining it has been for the likes of Mendes.
“I’m not considering it, no. But I don’t have anything against these guys who want to go over there and train. There’s a lot of negativity and stuff being said back and forth, people being frustrated and it’s like….everyone’s a grown ass adult. People can make their own decisions”.
“I just feel like there is just too much drama between everything. I don’t have anything against ‘Bang'[Ludwig], there is not anything in my mind that makes me hate the guy or anything like that. I just feel that with him, Faber, the whole drama thing it’s just not worth me getting in the middle of it”.
“There’s nothing that I hold against any of those guys. I don’t hold anything against ‘Bang’. I’m loyal to Faber, I love Faber like my brother. I just want to stay away from that whole drama set”.
“It stresses me out, I don’t like being a part of it. I love doing this as a sport. I got into this because I wanted to compete and when all this stuff gets thrown into it, it’s not fun for me”.
“One group does something and then the other person is pissed off, and the these people are pissed, and then these people are pissed, and it’s like I have to hear both sides, and I’m like ‘you guys are doing this to yourselves'”
“I just don’t want to be a part of it”.
Mendes also spoke of his relief that a fight between Faber and Dillashaw, which once looked a likely prospect, seems to have been removed from the table in the aftermath of Dillashaw’s bantamweight title loss to Dominick Cruz.
“I’m pretty glad that’s not going to happen,” said Mendes. “I don’t even know if could watch the fight”.
You have to feel for Mendes in this situation.