Featherweights battle for title in main event
Aldo (20-1, 2-0 UFC), the UFC featherweight champion, puts his title on the line for the fifth time. The Brazilian champ took the belt from Mike Brown in the WEC and defended it twice there against Manny Gamburyan and Urijah Faber. In the UFC, he has defended it against Mark Hominick and Kenny Florian.
Mendes (11-0, 2-0 UFC) went 4-0 in the WEC before the merger with the UFC and has decision wins over Rani Yahya and Michihiro Omigawa to earn his shot at Aldo’s title.
Also and Mendes headline UFC 142 on Jan. 14 from the HSBC Arena in Rio, the UFC’s second trip there in five months.
Here are some highlights from their participation on Wednesday’s call:
Jose Aldo, UFC featherweight champion
“There’s more attention and it is a great pleasure to defend my title in my home country. It means everything for me to come back fighting in my country as a champion.”
“This is where I started, just with dreams and hopes, and now I am back as a champion. It is a great feeling, but I will try to think about it after the fight. I still have to train hard and win this fight.”
“I found a few things in his game I can exploit. I’ve trained very hard for this fight. I never underestimate any fighter and want to remain as champion.”
Chad Mendes, No. 1 featherweight contender
“Going into the champion’s own backyard is exciting. There’s no doubt that he is the best fighter in this weight class. He has some things he is better at than others, but he’s got no holes in his game. But I feel I am the same. I’ve sat down with Urijah Faber, and we have come up with a great plan.
“When Urijah fought him, we didn’t red-flag his leg kicks – but obviously we have prepared for that in this fight.”
“Other fighters have stood there and let him take them apart. I think I will get in there and get my hands on him. No one else he’s fought has my level of wrestling, to where I will get him down and keep him down.”
“The Aldo camp saying I am not ready for a title shot? They don’t know how good I am. They’ve never fought me or trained with me. I am very, very ready for this title shot. He has great takedown defense but my type of shot is a blast-you-off-your-feet type of shot.”
“He’s the one with the pressure. He’s the champ. He’s the headliner in his own town, while I am the up-and-comer, the underdog. There’s no pressure on me.”
“It’s crazy to think that three and a half years ago I was in college, and this trip in MMA has really been a wild ride.”
“I knew I would be good at this sport. But to get a title shot after 11 fights is just a dream. I get to travel all over the world. I know this is a short window in my life, and I am loving every minute of it.”