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UFC 126: Chad Mendes is working his way towards a title shot starting with Michihiro Omigawa

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Chad Mendes (9-0) will battle the number four ranked featherweight in the world, Michihiro Omigawa (12-8-1) tomorrow night (Feb. 5) for UFC 126 in Las Vegas, Nevada.

The winner of this 145-pound tilt may be next in line for a shot at Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) gold.

Mendes tells Pro MMA Radio that he's thrilled to be on the UFC roster.

"I did not expect to be this far in my career. When I decided to fight, I figured I'd be good at it. I always put my heart and soul into everything at any kind of sport I've done. I knew that eventually I'd be good at it, but four fights into my Zuffa career and I'm already coming to the UFC. It's just unreal. I remember watching UFC when I was younger with my dad and it's just something that I loved for a long time and just to be a part of it is unreal."

"Money" has finished his opponents four times in his nine professional mixed martial arts (MMA) bouts. Casual fans have shown displeasure for the 25 year-old from Hanford, California for his decision victories, but Mendes isn't losing sleep over it.

"I'm not surprised. There's a lot of fans that are not necessarily the most educated in the sport. They just want to see a street fight and I kind of expect that. I'm working my way up to get that title shot. I don't particularly like it, but I don't let it get to me too much. This is how I pay my bills."

Perhaps this attitude is the reason why Mendes has been on the "Money" in his nine career bouts.

In his last bout, Mendes defeated a game Javier Vazquez in November 2010. Mendes knew he had to be cautious when the fight got to the ground.

"That was a huge confidence builder. I always had confidence in my jiu-jitsu defense, but going up against a guy like Javy where his jiu-jitsu skills are some of the best in the sport at my weight and not being exposed to being caught. That definitely built my confidence and it's gonna help me every fight."

"Money" says he is excited to get a spot on the Spike TV UFC 126 preliminaries.

"I'm really lucky to get on Spike. I wasn't expecting to get on the pay-per-view at all. I wasn't even sure I was going to be on TV for this fight, so getting on Spike is huge for me. I think that's gonna be huge for building a fan base and just getting myself out there showing a lot of these fans who I am. I was super pumped when I found out."

After his WEC debut, Mendes admitted that being on a bigger stage hindered his performance a bit. Mendes believes he's ready to perform at his best in his UFC debut.

"I'm gonna be a little nervous. I think I am just before every fight, but I think that's a good thing. It keeps your senses sharp, so I think a little bit of nerves is okay. I honestly won't know until I'm there, but I'm gonna try to treat it like fighting at the Arco (Arena). I'm expecting a big crowd. Whether the crowd is on my side or not, I'm just expecting it to be somewhat like the Arco. Obviously the ring is a little bit bigger and the step up in opponent, but honestly I feel like I match up great with Omigawa. I feel super confident coming into this fight."

Sometimes statistics don't tell the whole story. Omigawa may be 12-8-1, but he has won eight of his last nine bouts. Mendes isn't looking past the Japanese import.

"Just because his record isn't that great doesn't mean he's not a great fighter. He's been on a roll the last few fights beating some great guys. The move down to featherweight has helped him out a lot. You can tell he looks like a really strong opponent, but I think strength for strength I feel like I should be stronger than he is. That's one of the things I have going for me."

The featherweight division is stacked, but the man who runs the show is current champion Jose Aldo who will be defending his UFC title for the first time against Mark Hominick at UFC 129. Mendes says whether or not a win over Omigawa gets him a title shot, he's willing to accept it.

"If they wanted to put me in there next, I'm definitely down. I'm not getting any younger, but if they feel I need to wait then I'll wait. It's basically up to them."

For more on Mendes, check out the replay of MMAmania.com's exclusive presentation of Pro MMA Radio by clicking here.

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