Of course, it’s hard for any fighter to get over a defeat, especially when it took place in a championship fight, but the circumstances tied to this loss are particularly unique. For a while, it looked like Mendes and his vaunted wrestling game were about to end the meteoric rise of McGregor. But late in round two, Mendes dove on a choke, lost position, and was put away by the dangerous fighter.
Not only that, but Mendes was tapped to fight McGregor on short notice, after Jose Aldo withdrew a couple of weeks out due to a rib injury. Thus, this is why after the defeat, Mendes admitted that he was pretty gassed, by the time McGregor took him out.
Well, Mendes recently appeared on “The MMA Hour”, and when asked if he believes things would have been different, provided he faced McGregor on a full camp, he stated (quotes via MMA Fighting.com):
“110-percent, no doubt in my mind,” Mendes said. “I’m not making excuses. I’m not sitting here saying that’s the reason why I lost. But I feel that if I am completely prepared for that fight, I win that fight. Every single time.”
“His only way of beating me was tagging me on the feet,” Mendes said. “And you know, he does a really good job of being in your face. He has that, like, Diaz style of punching. But anyone who can move around and stay light on their feet and take this dude down wins that fight every single time. I just, after scrambling around, and fighting for the amount of time that I did, I just wasn’t able to get back to my feet and be light on my feet.”
Now to be fair, McGregor was preparing for a pretty different fight in Aldo, so he didn’t have a full camp to prepare for a top tier wrestler. In addition, McGregor’s coach, Jon Kavanagh, has also revealed McGregor had a knee injury heading into the bout, and as a result, the featherweight didn’t get any wrestling sparring in.
Perhaps, at some point, Mendes will get a rematch with McGregor, and he’ll fight the star at 100% (or closer to it). It certainly would be interested to see how the fight plays out. The first time around, McGregor didn’t appear to have significant answers for the top game of Mendes.