Chad Mendes Has Thought About Moving to Bantamweight But Won’t Likely Happen

Chad Mendes says that he's thought about a move down to bantamweight for several years but it's not likely to happen so long as he's still one of the best featherweights in the world.

In the two years Chad Mendes has been away from the UFC he’s noticed one major change at the top of the featherweight division.

The fighters are just getting bigger and bigger, which means athletes are definitely cutting more and more weight to compete at 145 pounds.

Take for instance reigning featherweight champion Max Holloway and top ranked contender Brian Ortega, who have both stated in the past that the cut down to featherweight can be rather brutal but they’ve each managed to find a way to do it successful time and time again.

Giving up size to his opponents is nothing new according to Mendes, but he definitely noticed the influx of bigger fighters competing at featherweight since he’s been gone.

“These guys are tall, they’re big guys cutting from 180 or 185 [pounds] and it blows my mind that these guys can even make the weight,” Mendes said ahead of his return at UFC Fight Night in Idaho on Saturday. “That’s definitely something I’m dealing with now.

“What helps me with those types of guys is that I’ve always been blessed at being really strong. I’ve wrestled up weight classes, sometimes two weight classes and I’ve been able to handle those guys real well. I think that’s something, my athleticism, my speed, obviously I just have to focus on a game plan and stick to it in a fight. All in all, I think I matchup great. I can’t wait.”

Considering he wrestled at far lower weights in college, Mendes admits that he’s contemplated a move down to bantamweight over the years but dropping down to 135 pounds doesn’t necessarily guarantee success.

“I’ve talked about it a little bit and I always talk about it until the week of the fight when I’m making weight at 145 and I’m like screw that,” Mendes said with a laugh when talking about a move to bantamweight. “I think it’s something I could do. I’d have to shrink down quite a bit. I’d have to lose a lot of muscle. Sometimes that’s a negative.

“Just because I’m moving down a weight class doesn’t mean I’m going to be completely dominant. I don’t know. It’s something that I’ve definitely thought about for years. I’m feeling comfortable. I’m feeling good at featherweight and if it’s not broken, I’m not going to try to fix it.”

At 5-foot-6-inches tall, Mendes has always been one of the shorter fighters in the division but that’s never stopped him from competing with anybody at 145 pounds.

Mendes went to war with former champion Jose Aldo and did quite a bit of damage to Conor McGregor when they met back in 2015 after accepting that fight on just two weeks notice. Mendes was always ranked as a top five fighter in the featherweight division with his only career losses coming to Aldo, McGregor and former lightweight champion Frankie Edgar.

Now that he’s returning to action, Mendes is excited at the possibility of facing fighters like Holloway or Ortega but for now he’s staying focused on his upcoming bout against top 15 ranked featherweight Myles Jury.

“I’ve been watching these and watching the fights, still studying what they’re doing. For me it’s just being able to get this time off and being to be fresh coming back while these guys have been beating the crap out of each other the whole time, I think it’s a big advantage for me,” Mendes said.

“It does feel good to have some new people at the top and I’ve really got to focus on Myles first and once we get the win, then we can start focusing on other stuff.”

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Damon Martin is a veteran mixed martial arts journalist who has been covering the industry since 2003 with bylines on FOX Sports, CNN, Bleacher Report and numerous other outlets.

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