It took Chad Mendes 11 pro fights, two UFC wins and four more victories inside the WEC cage to secure a shot at gold.
In 2012, Mendes backed his bags and headed for Rio de Janeiro, Brazil to challenge UFC featherweight champion Jose Aldo for the belt. After a back-and-forth first round, Aldo caught Mendes with a knee against the fence and finished him.
Two-plus years later, on the heels of four finishes and five straight wins, “Money” gets his rematch, as he takes on Aldo this Saturday night for the title at UFC 179.
The setting will be the same, as the two meet in Aldo’s backyard of Rio, but this appears to be a different Mendes than the 2012 version.
T.J. Dillashaw, his Team Alpha Male teammate and close friend, defeated Aldo’s training partner and friend, Renan Barao, for UFC bantamweight gold earlier this year. The Nova Uniao unit as a whole has had an up-and-down 2014, and Mendes would like nothing more than to give Americans the final piece to the puzzle and hold all the UFC titles in their possession.
Can he do it? Can he become the first fighter since Luciano Azebedo in 2005 and defeat Aldo?