Anthony Pettis isn’t the only fighter who’s had a title shot dangled tantalizingly close to his face, only to have the rug pulled out from under him later on.
UFC president Dana White revealed to gathered media following UFC 129 in April that Mendes would likely be up next for a shot at UFC featherweight champ José Aldo’s belt. They were expected to face off at UFC 133 this summer, but Aldo was forced out of the bout for having to rehab a lingering neck injury.
Instead of going the route Rashad Evans chose by waiting it out while the champ recovers, Mendes eventually agreed to face Rani Yahya at UFC 133 instead. During a recent appearance on MMAFighting.com’s The MMA Hour, Mendes discussed the thought process behind making that choice.
“We talked about it,” Mendes said of waiting for the title shot. “It definitely is something we were thinking about, but I want to compete. It’s frustrating to get in here and train 2-3 times a day hard, every day, and not have a light at the end of the tunnel, a fight to look forward to. That’s what motivates me. Getting that opponent, knowing who it is, watching tape on him, that’s what motivates me to get in and bust my butt every day. It’s frustrating not knowing, so like I said, I just want to compete.”
Mendes explained that he isn’t even too beat up over the whole thing, that he prefers to face a healthy Aldo and is happy to get more cage time while the champ recovers.
“It’s something I wanted and it’s what I was pushing for, but overall if he’s injured, take as much time as you need,” he said. “I’d rather fight the best Jose Aldo there is and have no excuses. I love to fight. I want to get in there and compete. I didn’t want to wait 8-9 months if he wasn’t going to fight. So I decided to go with Rani Yahya, a for-sure fight. I had the contract in front of me, so I took it.”
UFC 133: Evans vs. Davis goes down this August 6 at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.