It’s rare that Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) lets a fighter compete outside of their contract, but that’s exactly what happened to former title challenger Chad Mendes in his pursuit for a bare knuckle boxing crossover.
Mendes, 36, stepped away from UFC after his TKO loss to Alexander Volkanovski at UFC 232 all the way back in 2018. It was “Money’s” third knockout loss in his last four Octagon appearances and the writing seemed to be on the wall. While Mendes had no real interest in returning to combat sports in a professional manner he couldn’t pass up the opportunity to test his hand at bare knuckle boxing. The only issue for Mendes is that he’s still under contract with UFC.
Fortunately, UFC did what it normally doesn’t do and granted Mendes permission to compete under the Bare Knuckle Fighting Championship (BKFC) banner this coming October. It is unknown at this time who Mendes will fight, but at least he got the greenlight to do so.
“They technically could have said, ‘You’re not going anywhere – if you’re not fighting here, you’re not fighting,’” Mendes told What the Heck (via MMA Fighting). “But I’ve always had a great relationship with the UFC, and I think this is an awesome thing for them to let me make some money.
“My hat’s off to them for being cool in this situation. I didn’t [think they would be], honestly. I thought it would be a ‘hell no.’”
Mendes, who hasn’t competed in nearly three years, has been staying in phenomenal shape. He’s still training and capable of making a return despite the long layoff.
“I turn 36 in May,” he said. “I probably have maybe two years, maybe three years before I’m going to be like, that’s enough for me. But this opportunity came up. I’m training. I feel good. So why not get in there?”
While Mendes seems eager to make his BKFC debut he isn’t too keen on stepping foot inside of the Octagon again. That’s because his current UFC contract wouldn’t pay him enough to do so. However, if the numbers were re-negotiated then “Money” would be open to returning to UFC in the future.
“I can’t say no,” he said. “Of course, if the money....for what my contract is right now, hell no. Not a chance in hell. But if we were to talk and numbers made sense and we could get something that does make sense, I would think about it. It’s something I’m not done with. But I just don’t know if that’s ever going to happen.
“It was fun, but it’s not something I’m missing extremely bad.”