It took Chad Mendes about a year to go from signing a contract with BKFC to signing it. When the promoter first asked about him through his longtime coach Urij Faber, the numbers “weren’t tempting enough.”
Plus, Mendes still had a contract with the UFC. Although he is retired, he expected the promotion to trigger the three or four fights he should have had when he hung up his gloves.
The opposite happened. Through personal and managerial Jiu-Jitsu, the UFC has allowed him to enter the ring for his BKFC debut, which he expects to take place on October 22 against a competitor who will be officially known at 155 lbs.
“Technically, they could say, ‘You’re not going anywhere – if you don’t fight here, you don’t fight,” Mendes said. What the heck… “But I’ve always had a great relationship with the UFC, and I think it’s great for them to let me make some money.
“Hats off to them for being cool in this situation. I do not [think they would be], honestly. I thought it would be “hell no.”
Boxing has always been a favorite part of Mendes’ training as he transitioned from wrestling to MMA. He didn’t see a huge difference in removing half an inch or so of padding for a fight. Going to a bare fist made physical sense. It was only supposed to make financial sense.
“I will turn 36 in May,” he said. “I probably have maybe two, maybe three years before I’m like this, that’s enough for me. But there was such an opportunity. I practice. I feel good. So why not get there? “
At 24, fresh out of college, Mendes sat down and conceived his transition to MMA. He said he would reevaluate his career at 35. If it makes sense to continue fighting, he will continue. If there were other possibilities that were just as useful, he would have done something else.
Mendes made the most of his time. He fought peak Jose Aldo twice for the UFC featherweight title and won Fight of the Year at UFC 179 in the second meeting.
Almost in time, Mendes said he reached a crossroads where business opportunities outside the cage not only reduced the financial need for struggle, but made teaching the octagon less of a passion than a job. It was exactly where he didn’t want to be, so he backed off.
Mendes may have stayed on his current path, but like many of those who spend most of their lives competing, the urge to compete has never faded. When the BKFC numbers made sense, he had a heart-to-heart talk with his wife and made up his mind.
“It’s quite difficult, especially when you have this itch, to say no,” he said.
There are many ways that Mendes sees himself as competitive, and BKFC is just one of them. There are jiu-jitsu tournaments that pay less but take less time. However, if he’s going to do something that takes all of his attention, it’s not just about getting another win. It’s better for his profit.
Right now, he would not describe where he left the UFC business. He loves MMA and continues to train. He returned to the gym with many of his training partners. But now there is no incentive to make that particular leap.
“I can’t say no,” he said. “Of course, if the money …. for the fact that I now have a contract, damn it, no. Not a single chance in hell. But if we talked and the numbers made sense and we could get something that really makes sense, I would think about it. This is what I’m not done with yet. But I just don’t know if it will ever happen.
“It was fun, but it’s not something I really miss.”