Chad Mendes was a wrestling-based fighter stepping inside the Octagon to challenge Jose Aldo back in 2012.
He’d fought just twice inside the Octagon, going the distance both times.
Since, “Money” has turned himself into a knockout artist thanks to the work of head coach Duane Ludwig, finishing four straight opponents and winning five in a row to earn a rematch at UFC 176 against Aldo.
“When I fought him the first time, I had two fights in the UFC. I’d say 90-percent of my game was wrestling,” said Mendes, during a recent appearance on UFC Tonight. “My game plan was to go out there, take him down and grind it out. That’s all I had. I didn’t have a head coach.
“I’m a completely different fighter from the first fight. I’ve grown up, matured. My stand-up and striking, my full mixed martial arts skills have improved. I want to show on August 2nd that I’m the man.”
Mendes (16-1) had his finishing streak snapped when he went the distance with Nik Lentz this past December. He stopped Clay Guida, Darren Elkins, Yaotzin Meza and Cody McKenzie, including three in the first round, from 2012-13.
Like Dillashaw, Mendes plans to dethrone the champion and bring the title back to his gym.
“I’m very confident,” he said. “This is my time. I’ve trained my whole life for this moment. We’re going to make history August 2nd. This is my time to prove to the world that I’m the best featherweight in the world.”