Chad Mendes has made a steady progression from an All-American wrestler at Cal Poly to a top contender in the UFC's featherweight division. He has not only won 11 straight fights, but has also won over fans. Chosen by a fan vote, Mendes was named the new face of Team Edge by Edge Shave Gel.
While out on a mule deer hunt in Wyoming, Mendes took a few minutes to talk to Cagewriter. The good news for the avid sportsman? The hunt went well.
"Yeah, we bagged a near 300-lber. It took four of us to load him up," Mendes said.
Mendes has another target in mind: the UFC featherweight belt. He was expected to get the next title shot, but the bout was put off because of an injury to Jose Aldo. Mendes didn't want to wait for the bout, and beat Rani Yahya by decision at UFC 133.
Though he strained some ligaments in his hand in that bout, Mendes says that he is ready to go. He will be in Houston to watch this weekend's featherweight title bout between Aldo and Kenny Florian, and fully expects that he has next.
"I'm expecting the title fight. I should be the next one in line. I've proven myself. 11-0 kind of speaks for itself."
He thinks that Aldo will win, but Florian does have a chance if he can get the fight to go into the late rounds.
"I think Aldo's going to win. Aldo's just so good at every part of the game, but Florian does do better as the rounds go on, and Aldo doesn't. That could be a big advantage for Florian. We'll have to see who can make it out of those first few rounds."
When he does get that shot at the title, Mendes will have the backing of Team Alpha Male, the California-based camp started by Urijah Faber. Mendes joined their camp not long after graduating college, and credits them for his growth as a fighter.
"We all come from a wrestling background, so we all have that mentality and know what it takes to be a champion. It's good to surround yourself with people who have the same goals, who can compete and help you grow. We have guys who aren't just great fighters but great coaches."
Mendes appreciates that he is surrounded by people who know the sport but also make fighting enjoyable.
"Justin Bucholtz is that way. He's my favorite cornerman. He busts jokes in between rounds to keep my head straight. As a team, you can't always be super-serious about it. You've got to have fun, too."
That fun-loving attitude might be why Mendes beat out such well-liked fighters as Phil Davis, Brian Stann and Michael McDonald to become the face of Team Edge, following in B.J. Penn's footsteps. He is thankful both to fans and Edge for the support.
"I've used their stuff for a while. Ever since I could shave, and I want to thank all the fans for putting in the time and effort. I try to treat my fans well, any time I can. I like to go out, do meet and greets whenever possible, and I think they see that. They respect that."