Chad Mendes went into Saturday’s UFC event on the cusp of a featherweight title shot, and the UFC put him the Spike prelim portion of the card in what I have to assume was an attempt to give him some extra exposure. Unfortunately, he didn’t exactly set the world on fire. Instead he fought a cautious, uninspired fight that gave viewers a warm snugly bedtime vibe. Mommy, tell me the story about the contender who played it overly safe!
Compare Mendes’ performance to that of Rashad Evans, who didn’t just put a ! on his title shot but !!!!!!!!!11one!1! We wondered before the match what would happen if Chad put on a meh performance and if it’d affect his title bid. Well, Dana White didn’t exactly confirm that Mendes would get the winner of Aldo / Florian. A potential hand injury might make an announcement moot anyways. But he did defend Chad’s performance in the post fight presser:
“It’s tough when you’re in that position when people say he should be next but you don’t go in and finish,” he said. “It’s tough, but there’s no doubt he won the fight. If Tiger Woods goes out and wins but doesn’t crush everyone, people ask, ‘Is he the best in the world?’ But he still won.”
While the golf analogy is accurate in that the Mendes fight was as boring as watching golf, that’s about as far as it goes. This isn’t Tiger Woods beating out 75 other players to win, this is Chad Mendes doing just enough to beat one clearly outmatched opponent on the scorecards. He didn’t just not finish Rani Yahya … he never came close. He never even tried. He kept the fight on the feet where Rani was basically neutered, yet still fought like he was facing the world’s most dangerous striker.
Maybe it’s because he was over-protective of his title shot. Maybe he’s just a boring fighter. Whatever the case, he didn’t exactly show the Spike audience any reason to get excited about seeing him face Jose Aldo. Well, maybe they’ll be excited at the prospect of watching Aldo whup him. I’m slightly more concerned that Mendes will actually win.