After losing to Aldo on that fateful night in January 2012, Mendes went on to destroy his next three opponents with stunning knockouts – approaching each of those fights with a visibly obvious need to destroy.
And after Saturday night, you can make that four-in-a-row, as “Money” did something that no other fighter has ever been able to do; he knocked out Mid-western fan-favorite and 18-fight UFC veteran Clay “The Carpenter” Guida at the Bradley Center in Milwaukee.
Round one saw Guida come out with his trademark locks bouncing from side to side as he looked to press the 28-year-old with his popping jab and frenetic lateral movement.
And for a while, it worked.
Guida didn’t win the opening frame, but he did enough to force Mendes into a waiting game.
As round two began, the trademark bounce ensued. Guida looked to continue his pressure as Mendes tried to land powerful counter strikes. Midway through the frame, Guida shot for his first takedown and Mendes sprawled with textbook precision.
That is when the momentum made a permanent shift.
The rest of the round played out in Mendes’ favor, as he picked Guida apart and neutralized most of the pressuring Chicagoans offense.
Round three is when it all came together for Mendes. Early into the opening seconds of the frame, he forced Guida against the cage and unleashed a hellish punch to the face that sent Guida careening to the mat.
Guida snapped to his feet in a display of unreal grit and determination, but as he rose and attempted to collect his thoughts, Mendes leveled Guida with a right hook that stopped the energetic featherweight dead in his tracks.
The end came at the 30-second mark of the round three. It was the only time Guida had been knocked out in his decade-long run as a professional mixed martial artist.
According to Mendes, that was part of the plan.
“That was a goal of mine,” answered Mendes when asked if finishing “The Carpenter” was on his to-do list.
“I just knew that punch landed clean. He’s been hit harder before and not been finished. I knew I needed to take my time.”
With four wins in a row and four knockout finishes to his credit, most people think that Mendes is primed as the next man in line to again challenge Jose Aldo for the UFC featherweight title.
It’s a distinction that suits the wrestler-turned-brawler just fine.
“I needed to make a statement,” he declared.
“I want that title shot. I want Jose Aldo. I want that belt.”
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