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Chad Mendes, 34, retires from MMA: ‘Let’s keep wrecking this place!’

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The former multiple-time title contender leaves the sport with an impressive 18-5 record ... and zero UFC belts.

Former No. 1-ranked Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) 145-pound title contender Chad Mendes, 34, has announced his retirement from professional mixed martial arts (MMA) competition. The Team Alpha Male (TAM) stalwart posted the following on his Instagram account late last night:

“I just want to say THANK YOU to all my fans and everyone that tuned in to watch me battle! With 29 years of competing and 11 year in the MMA game, I feel it’s time for the next chapter in my life! It’s been an incredible journey with so many life lesson along the way. I feel extremely blessed to be living this life I live and can’t wait to see what the next chapter has in store for me! I will continue to hustle like I always have. I will continue to grow @finzandfeatherzguides and enjoy all the new adventures that come with it! I am truly grateful for all the love and support you all have shown. Thank you and let’s keep wrecking this place!!!!”

This came a few hours after informing UFC’s media partner, ESPN, of his retirement:

Chad Mendes has informed ESPN he is officially retired from mixed martial arts. ‘I wanted to step away for a little bit and let everything settle, just make sure my feelings didn’t change. And they haven’t. It’s just that time for me. I have no regrets. I had an amazing time.’

Mendes — who unsuccessfully challenged then-Featherweight champion Jose Aldo twice at UFC 142 in Jan. 2012 and then at UFC 179 in Oct. 2014 — leaves behind a storied, but complicated, legacy. One of the better fighters in UFC’s history to never hold a belt, Mendes actually lost three title fights during his 14-fight UFC career, also losing an interim Featherweight title fight to Conor McGregor at UFC 189 in July 2015.

Two of those three bouts came steeped in controversy, however. In the first Aldo match up, the Brazilian blatantly grabbed the fence to prevent a late takedown, then hit the challenger with an enormous knee seconds later to knock him out. There was no controversy in the rematch, just a “Fight of the Year” in a back-and-forth barnburner that saw both men get dropped and rally back.

The contest against McGregor also gets a footnote placed in it as well because Mendes accepted the fight with roughly 11 days to prepare for the fight. It’s no shame in saying that not every fighter is in full condition to go on such short notice, and Mendes definitely fell in that camp. The man who’d just gone five rounds with Aldo nine months earlier would run out of gas in the second round and get finished by McGregor in a fight he had been winning on all scorecards up until the last 30 seconds of that stanza.

Even more unfortunately for Mendes, part of his legacy also includes a two-year suspension for performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs). Mendes claimed the illicit substance was from a topical cream used to treat psoriasis (details). He was, to his credit, one of the few fighters who tested positive to not contest the results and immediately owned and accepted the suspension.

Mendes — who most recently dropped a hard-fought “Fight of the Night” to top-ranked contender Alexander Volkanovski at UFC 232 in Dec. 2018 (recap) — will end his career having beaten all but the very best of his division during his run. His stated goals include promoting his hunting and fishing clothing line and spending more time with his family.