Chad Mendes' hopes of getting his revenge on Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) featherweight champion Jose Aldo were delayed after an injury to "Junior" forced a cancellation of their rematch; which was set to go down at UFC 176 on Aug. 2, 2014 in Los Angeles, California.
But according to UFC President Dana White, "Money" will still get his chance, it'll just be at a later date, as Aldo isn't expected to be out very long.
While Mendes understands that injuries are part of the game, he couldn't help but express his obvious disappointment and frustration at the news during a recent appearance on The MMA Hour:
"I knew there was a huge possibility that this fight wasn't going to happen. But I was praying that everything would stay healthy, no injuries would happen. It just irritates the crap out of me because it's so close to the fight. I've put over $10,000 into this training camp. From paying all my trainers, all my hyperbaric chambers. It's just so much effort, so much hard work I've done and now four weeks out it's all gone. Basically, all that was for nothing. It's just so frustrating, the belt is right there. The gameplan that I have and all the stuff I've been working on; basically it's like I'm studying for a big test and I don't even get to take the test. It's frustrating."
While White is confident that Aldo shouldn't be out too long, Mendes say if the wait is longer than expected, he has no problem taking another fight in the meantime, as long as it's for a interim title. Furthermore, when asked about a potential showdown against the recently victorious Frankie Edgar, "Money" said he'd be up for it.
"So, I say I want an interim title. If this isn't going to happen with Aldo, then my next fight is going to be for the belt. I don't think there is any point for me to fight anyone else in the division if it's not for the title. I feel like I've worked my way up and that's what I deserve. I think it's my time to be the champ. I feel like I would win any of these fights anyway, but I don't want to take a chance at breaking my hand or doing something to where I couldn't fight for the title afterwards. Don't get me wrong, I would love to fight Frankie Edgar, I think that would be a great fight for the fans. He's a legend of the sport and I think that would be a huge win for me. Like I said, that's the ultimate goal in the sport, is to win the belt and become the champ, and that's what I want. And if Aldo can't stay healthy and he's too fragile to go through an entire training camp, then I think it's time to step aside and let guys that are able to do that and able to push through all that stuff to be the champ."
Coincidentally, UFC CEO Lorenzo Fertitta told FOX Sports 1 that he doesn't expect Aldo to be out long, but the promotion would be willing to kick around the idea of an interim title fight, should the Brazilian champion not be cleared by October.
His comments (via MMA Fighting):
"We've got some other great contenders in Frankie Edgar and Cub Swanson that certainly could step up and vie for some type of an interim title. We're going to know more in about two weeks. Aldo was told by his doctors not to do anything for three weeks. We're about one week into that. We're going to regroup in two weeks, and if Aldo isn't going to be ready to go by October, then we're going to have to sit down and see if we can do an interim title. And if that's the case, like I said before, the good thing is that we have a lot of really, really good contenders in that weight class that could challenge Chad Mendes for an interim title."
While it's only a possibility for now, the fact that UFC officials would even consider an interim title is a bit of a head-scratcher, especially since they're only giving Aldo a three-month deadline.
With all due respect to heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez and lightweight kingpin Anthony Pettis, both men have been sitting on the sidelines for quite some time now due to injuries (details here and here), and it will roughly be a year from the time they underwent surgery for their respective setbacks to when they are expected to defend their titles again.
And yet, no mention of setting up an interim title for their respective divisions.
Perhaps the fact that both champs were given gigs as coaches on separate seasons of The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) to help them buy a bit more recovery time, allowed most to overlook the huge gap.
Also, if UFC does indeed go ahead with an interim featherweight title fight, there should be no question that Cub Swanson gets to duke it out against Mendes. Nothing against Frankie Edgar, but Cub's six straight victories at 145 pounds which include two "Fight of the Night" and two "Knockout of the Night" performances heavily outweighs "The Answer's" back-to-back wins in the division.
It's all a little baffling, really.