Chad Mendes is less than two weeks out from his title-fight rematch with featherweight champion Jose Aldo at UFC 179 in Brazil, but despite his constant focus, there’s been a buzzing in his ear lately like a gnat that’s just begging to be swatted.
The insect in question is Irish bad boy Conor McGregor, who fired off some warning shots toward Mendes just more than a week ago at UFC 178.
"Chad’s a (5-foot-6) overblown; he should be a 135-er, but he’s gone past that limit now," McGregor said. "Now he’s just a little small bodybuilder that’s stuck in the 145-pound division; he gets tired quick. He’s 5’6", a 65-inch reach. I have an eight-inch reach advantage on him. I would tower over him. So I’d maul Chad."
His comments didn’t fall on deaf ears when Mendes spoke to FOX Sports about the newest top five-ranked featherweight. Mendes isn’t necessarily offended by what McGregor said, although he does believe the newest trash-talker to come after him should get some new material.
There are multiple guys who will beat this guy in the division. I think I would kill him. Dennis Bermudez, Clay Guida, Nik Lentz, all these guys that are strong, solid wrestlers that can take a punch and keep coming and just have great gas tanks will destroy him.
— Chad Mendes on Conor McGregor
"Right off the bat, I’ve got to clear some stuff up. He comes up with the nickname Chad ‘Mini’ Mendes, which is actually kind of cool, I don’t even mind that. The shortness thing, guys always kind of go with that ’cause I’m short, but I’ve been short and small my entire life. That’s nothing I’m not used to," Mendes said. "The short jokes don’t bother me at all. He keeps digging at that, so it is what it is."
UFC president Dana White said recently that McGregor may get the next title shot at featherweight if Aldo gets past Mendes next Saturday night. He didn’t give the same scenario should Mendes win — which, considering his recent five-fight win streak with four TKO victories, is a real possibility.
Mendes would have no problem facing McGregor should he win the belt. But if the UFC wants to keep cashing in on the support of the Irish fans for their home countryman, then Mendes suggests that putting them together in a fight would be a very bad idea.
"The guy’s got a huge hype train, he’s got a lot of publicity behind him. But honestly, if the UFC is smart, if Dana is smart, they will not put him in with a guy like me. There are multiple guys who will beat this guy in the division. I think I would kill him," Mendes said. "Dennis Bermudez, Clay Guida, Nik Lentz, all these guys that are strong, solid wrestlers that can take a punch and keep coming and just have great gas tanks will destroy him."
The better plan, according to Mendes, is to allow McGregor’s ego to fly and put him in with strikers that are willing to play the standup game. Mendes believes the first time he gets in there with a wrestler, who can grind him into the mat, McGregor’s balloon of attention would pop.
"I think the UFC needs to keep building him up. This guy’s obviously bringing a lot of attention to the division, a lot of attention to the sport, he’s a superstar now. I would love to get in there and dismantle the guy, which I would truly love to do, but I think if the UFC’s smart, they wouldn’t allow that," Mendes said.
"I don’t know; we’re going to see what happens in the future. Right now, I’m super-focused on Jose, but maybe down the road when I get that belt. I would love to dismantle the dude."
McGregor has already stated that he will be in Brazil for UFC 179, sitting cage-side to watch Mendes battle Aldo. Mendes hopes he enjoys the show while watching the two best featherweights in the world fight for the gold.
"Hopefully he makes the trip out there," Mendes added. "And watch me whoop up on Jose (Aldo)."