Chad Mendes stuns, stops Ricardo Lamas in first round

The UFC Fight Night main event Saturday in Fairfax, Virginia, was close-fought and competitive — but only for a little less than half a round, as No. 1 UFC featherweight contender Chad Mendes knocked out No. 4-ranked Ricardo Lamas in a dominating performance that could position Mendes for a title shot.

After a feeling-out process throughout the first minute-plus of the bout, "Money" Mendes landed a short right hook flush to the head of "The Bully" Lamas just as he was throwing his own. 

Lamas fell to the canvas and Mendes followed with front headlocks and punches to his grounded opponent. The tough Lamas somehow worked his way back to his feet repeatedly, but time and again either got dropped once more or fell backwards because he’d lost his balance from the blows he’d sustained.

Up to that point, Lamas was scoring often with leg kicks. Mendes eventually got his timing down and dropped Lamas.

"We’ve been working on slipping the right hand and just throwing," he said afterward. "I walked him down, he hit me with a couple kicks. I hit him big, and he went down."

And once Lamas went down, Mendes did not let up. The Team Alpha Male member patiently, but brutally, landed punch after punch to the felled Lamas.

The referee could have stepped in to stop the fight long before he eventually did, after Mendes shrugged and looked up at him as if to say, "How much more does he need to take?" The fight was stopped at 2:45 of the first round.

After his dramatic win, Mendes stayed humble and gave credit to his opponent.

"Ricardo is a great opponent, he’s been on a tear," he said. "Means a lot."

Indeed, Lamas had won two straight fights in impressive fashion since losing a title fight to champion Jose Aldo. The win for Mendes comes after a close decision loss to Aldo last year.

Now that he’s back in the win column, Mendes said he’s got his eye on Aldo’s title defense against Conor McGregor in July. The featherweight clearly wants a title shot next, but said he’d fight whoever the UFC wants him to next. 

Lamas’ loss nicks his record to 15-4 overall. The win moves Mendes to 17-2.

"It feels great, man," he said. "I needed to come in here and make a statement."