Mendes set for Aldo rematch

They’ll square off Aug. 2 at Staples Center as former Cal Poly wrestler looks to atone for his only professional defeat

Los Angeles Daily NewsJune 12, 2014 

Former Cal Poly wrestler Chad Mendes, right, battles Nik Lentz during a UFC bout Dec. 14 in Sacramento. Mendes won by unanimous decision in the bout to run his winning streak to five.

STEVE YEATER — AP

For Chad Mendes, being in Los Angeles suits him just fine.

For Jose Aldo, he doesn’t have a problem with it either. Just not this week.

Aldo had to watch his native Brazil kick off the World Cup from thousands of miles away Thursday, but he promises to be in better form Aug. 2 when he defends his featherweight championship against Mendes at UFC 176 at Staples Center.

Both 145-pounders were in Los Angeles on Wednesday to promote their main-event rematch at UFC 176, for which tickets go on sale at 10 a.m. today.

Mendes had an easy trip from Sacramento and knows he’ll have another one in seven weeks, when he’ll have plenty of support in the arena.

The good news for Aldo was his schedule appeared to be cleared Thursday in Los Angeles in order to allow him to watch the World Cup opening match between Brazil and Croatia.

Aldo said it’s been a childhood dream to attend and watch the World Cup games in Brazil.

“If they were in Rio, it would be easy for me. If Brazil is playing in the finals, it might be more complicated,” said the 27-year-old champion, who counts several Brazilian players among his personal friends. “I have to keep training and the training doesn’t allow me to travel freely.”

Aldo contends, however, that while he is rooting for his country to reach the finals, the World Cup won’t distract him from his training.

“No, no no ... first comes my job, and second place comes the Brazilian team,” Aldo said.

Aldo (24-1) is making his sixth title defense after he was awarded the UFC’s first 145-pound championship belt in November 2010. A year before, he had won the WEC featherweight championship against Mike Brown with a second-round TKO. Upon the companies merging, Aldo was declared the UFC champion.

He has won 17 consecutive fights — his only loss coming in 2005 against Luciano Azevedo at Jungle Fight 5.

Mendes, 29, also has only one loss, yet that came against Aldo. At UFC 142 in January 2012, Aldo delivered a flying knee that knocked out Mendes with one second left in the first round in Aldo’s hometown of Rio de Janeiro.

“We normally direct our training for that specific fight and I believe the fight went exactly the way we planned,” Aldo said. “Everything was within the plan.”

Mendes (16-1) has since rattled off five consecutive victories — four by KO/TKO and the latest a three-round unanimous-decision win over Nik Lentz in December.

But he and the other Team Alpha Male members have been buoyed by teammate T.J. Dillashaw, who captured the UFC bantamweight title with a shocking yet dominant TKO victory over Renan Barao — a teammate of Aldo’s at Nova Uniao — less than three weeks ago.

“I knew, being a Team Alpha Male member, we had the ability to win those belts,” said Mendes, who is being trained by Duane Ludwig and Martin Kampmann. “I think it finally just happened because we were able to crack the code on Barao. And now it’s my time to go out there and get that belt against Jose Aldo.”

Mendes said he and his Team Alpha Male teammates are always driven, but Dillashaw’s incredible triumph has provided further inspiration.

“It’s just motivating to see a guy like T.J. just go out there and completely tear apart a guy like Barao, who fights very similar to Aldo,” said Mendes, who wrestled at Cal Poly. “And now I feel like we have the game plan, the blueprint to beat these guys. I have the athletic ability. T.J. has the athletic ability.

“It’s all about getting in there and implementing it and executing it to its fullest. T.J. was a prime example of that and now it’s my time.”

Also Wednesday, the UFC added another fight to the card. Danny Castillo (17-6), Mendes’ Team Alpha Male teammate, will take on Tony Ferguson (16-3) of Ventura in a lightweight bout.

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