After his fourth straight knockout win, Chad Mendes felt he had made a figurative statement that he wanted to fight for the belt. Just to be safe, he added a literal one, saying he was ready for a rematch with featherweight champion Jose Aldo. His wait will extend at least one more match.
Mendes will instead face one more challenge, meeting surging contender Nik Lentz at UFC on FOX 9 on Dec. 14.
FOX Sports has confirmed the matchup with UFC officials. One significant silver lining for Mendes: the fight takes place at the Sleep Train Arena in Sacramento, California, home base of Team Alpha Male.
Mendes (15-1) has been on a tear since losing to Aldo in Jan. 2012, knocking out Cody McKenzie, Yaotzin Meza, Darren Elkins and most recently, Clay Guida. The last feat made him the first one ever to finish Guida on strikes. He is currently the No. 1 ranked contender.
For Lentz (24-5-2, 1 no contest), it will be the most significant opportunity of his career. He’s gone 3-0 since moving down to featherweight, with wins over Eiji Mitsuoka, Diego Nunes and Hacran Dias, a streak that has moved him up to No. 8.
Lentz had been scheduled to face Dennis Bermudez on the Nov. 6 UFC Fight for the Troops card, but was pulled for the bigger matchup. In his place, Steven Siler has agreed to fight Bermudez.
The Mendes-Lentz bout will be featured under the lightweight championship main event pitting Anthony Pettis against Josh Thomson.