Chad Mendes (José Youngs/The MMA Corner)UFC Featherweight Dilemma: What’s Next For Chad Mendes? Jake Schneider December 16, 2015 News, Recaps, Spotlight, UFC Chad “Money” Mendes is a 3-time title challenger who fell to the hands of defeat last Friday evening in the headliner for The Ultimate Fighter 22 Finale. Mendes was defeated by a worthy opponent in Frankie Edgar, but nobody expected the bout to come to an end just minutes into the opening round. Edgar threw a combination that clipped Mendes at 2:28 of the first round that forced referee John McCarthy to intervene. Mendes has now lost three of his last four bouts, with two losses coming by way of knockout. Now the question to ask is, what is next for Mendes? Ranked against the other top three opponents in the division between Jose Aldo, Conor McGregor, and Edgar, he has a combined record of 0-4. When Mendes first came to the UFC, he was the young undefeated rising prospect that had endless amounts of potential. In 2012, he got his first title shot, with an 11-0 professional record, he went into enemy territory against champion Aldo where he experienced his first defeat by a vicious knee. Following the first loss of his career, he went on to win five straight, with four of those wins coming by knockout. He finally got his chance for redemption by getting to challenge the only man to defeat him. Although he did come up short in the bout, it went down as one of the most memorable bouts in 2014. Mendes gave Aldo the toughest fight that he had experienced in his career and his value to the featherweight division had risen from the back-and-forth battle. Coming off the loss, he headlined an event against another tough opponent in Ricardo Lamas who many expected to be a tough challenge for him. Mendes had a beautiful performance with another highlight finish in the first round. Everything looked promising for Mendes, as it seemed he was just about one more fight away from getting another shot at the title when he stepped up on three weeks notice to take on McGregor for the interim featherweight title, in what would be the biggest fight of his career. For almost two full rounds, Mendes executed a perfect game plan and was controlling the fight by using his superior wrestling advantage. With about 20 seconds left in the second round McGregor was able to make it back to his feet and put Mendes away strikes as the round ended. Although this defeat was a huge setback, he still put up a competitive fight and can debatably say if he were to have a full camp that he could have came out victorious. On Friday night, in the middle of one of the biggest weeks in the promotions history, and on the day before UFC 194, Mendes had the perfect fight to get him back into title contention with a win against former champion and #2 ranked fighter Frankie Edgar. If he were to have gotten an impressive win over Edgar, and with talks of McGregor moving up to lightweight, Mendes would have been the logical opponent to compete for the title. But with a devastating loss and another fight where he was finished, a lot of different questions must be asked. One thing that must be considered is if it is possible for Mendes to make the weight cut to get down to bantamweight. Although he is somewhat small for the featherweight division to begin with, he has a ton of muscle that makes it hard for him to even cut weight to reach the 145-pound limit. If Mendes is able to lose some of that muscle and cut down to bantamweight, he can do some serious damage and possibly make another run at the title. Another option for Mendes is something that Urijah Faber stated at the UFC194 post fight press conference of taking a little time off to recuperate and then contending for the title still in the now very open featherweight division. With talks of 145 being too difficult of a weight cut for McGregor, it is rumored that he is going to move up to lightweight, leaving the featherweight division wide open. With Aldo being the only champion the UFC had ever known at featherweight and having been undefeated dating all the way back to 2006, one must wonder how he’ll respond following such a detrimental knockout. The devastating knockout has been blowing up all over social media, and you have to wonder if he can ever bounce back from such a heartbreaking loss. That leaves a lot of questions now about not only the division, but where Chad Mendes stands in it. Mendes has to sit down with his camp at team Alpha Male and recuperate what needs to be done in order for him to bounce back from this loss. At 30 years old, Mendes is no longer the rising prospect he once, but is now an established fighter under the UFC promotion who needs to find out what needs to be fixed in order for him to still be a threat for title contention. Possible Next Matchup: Mendes has already fought most of the top tier of the featherweight division, so you can expect his next opponent to be someone inside the top 10 that he hasn’t faced yet. A good possible matchup that would not only be an exciting fight, but a bout that Mendes can really make a statement with a good performance against, and that is Jeremey Stephens. Stephens, who is also coming off a loss at UFC 194 against Max Holloway, will also be in need of a meaningful matchup. Another possible opponent who is not booked for a fight yet that would be a very intriguing matchup is Cub Swanson, who has been taking time off since his two back-to-back loses to Frankie Edgar and Max Holloway. Jimmy Hoffa great article, chad has gotten lost in the post 194 hubhub. Antonio Deflice I agree but if mendez can move down in weight I think he would be champ for sure Jimmy Hoffa Maybe, I mean no doubt Chad is athletic………but. This sport is really moving fast. It almost changes week to week. I’m not sure it’s enough anymore to be a great wrestler with a powerful overhand right. Chad needs legitimate boxing skills. He needs the cross, he needs the hook. I like his uppercut but he needs to work on percession with it. Way too often he throws it short. I kind of get the sense he is starting to fall behind. AlphaMale is a great camp but maybe they need to get serious about boxing or at least some very high level kick box coaching. Also Chad is not anywhere close to being up to speed on footwork. Yes I agree, it might help if he moves down in weight but when he does that, he’s going to lose some of his punching power. Frankly, based on his performance against Conor, I think he could stay where he is but somehow improve his cardio. Maybe that isn’t possible. I’m probably wrong in a lot of my thinking. And there are guys whispering in these fighters ears that know a hell of a lot more then I do. But I do believe the sport is moving so fast that nobody and I mean nobody can afford to get comfortable.