Opinion: Aldo vs. Mendes
By Jesse Heitz
It’s been a somewhat slow few days for the old MMA news cycle. Some writers might hate such a thing, but if we’re being honest it’s rather refreshing every once in a while. It’s exceptionally nice to have a break from the often baffling and unusually aggravating events that seem to be typical of the stories that capture our collective MMA attention.
This is not at all to say that there’s nothing going on, quite the opposite is true in fact. The absence of the aforementioned variety of story that surely requires comment from writers allows us to get a better look at the activity around which the sport itself revolves, the fights. So breaks in the hustle and bustle like this allow us to once again focus our eyes on the ball, so to speak.
So in that spirit, Chad Mendes chatted to Ariel Helwani about his upcoming re-match with Jose Aldo for the UFC Featherweight Championship at UFC 176. In the interview, as published by MMAFighting.com, Mendes spoke about the fight being pushed back yet again, stating that it was,
“Very frustrating. There was two different times. The first time it was supposed to be around the July 5th card. That’s kind of what they were telling us. And then when [Chris] Weidman got injured, they were looking for that main event there and asked if I’d take it with Aldo. I said ‘yes’ in a heartbeat. Aldo said ‘no’, it was like eight weeks out. He said it was too soon and that he also can’t fight on the July 5th card.”
“It’s just strange to me. It doesn’t make any sense, but now we’re at August 2nd and most likely I’ll get to fight once, maybe two times this year. I think more than anything that’s what’s frustrating for me.”
“I honestly believe, since that first fight, I’m completely different fighter. Back then I relied pretty much, I’d say 90 percent, on my wrestling and taking that fight, I probably wasn’t ready for that fight. I think I had a couple of fights in the UFC, still trying to basically figure my style, myself out as a fighter. I went in there and took the fight. You just don’t turn those fights down in this sport and that’s what happened.
“Ultimately, I feel like I was winning the first round. At least, staying close right there with him and obviously got caught. It’s definitely something I’m going to pay attention to. There’s a lot of studying of him I’m going to be doing on this fight and I feel like it’s going to be a completely different fight.”
Now I’m not here to make a prediction about this fight, that’s absolutely not what this article is about. No, this piece is about seeing MMA journalism at work. An interview with an excited fighter. He’s not shamelessly self-promoting, nor trash talking. No, he’s giving an honest assessment of what he needs to do when he walks back into the legendary Octagon if he wants to emerge from those same confines in clear possession of the belt.
Simply put, I like this story. It’s not flashy. It’s by no means controversial. It’s something that would have skirted the radar screens of everyone who wasn’t a Chad Mendes or Jose Aldo fan had it not been for the rather sensationalist subtitle clearly affixed to it. I suppose what I’m driving at is that this is simply a nice little story ripe with professionalism, not one that needs some odd high school dramatics in order to be newsworthy.