In 2002, the UFC’s top contender at Light Heavyweight, Chuck Liddell, was set for his title shot against than champion Tito Ortiz. Tito chose this time to settle a beef with Ken Shamrock and Liddell was left in waiting. Chuck Liddell is a fighter and fighter’s fight so Liddell took on a very dangerous opponent in Renato “Babalu” Sobral instead of waiting around.
The move would pay off as Liddel knocked out Sobral in the first round with a highlight-reel head kick.
Almost nine years later, we see another top contender following this worthy formula. Chad “Money” Mendes (10-0) was the next logical challenger to Jose Aldo’s crown in the Featherweight division. The fight was rumored to be taking place at UFC 133 on August 6th in Philadelphia, PA until news hit in late May that the champion would not be able to compete due to a knee injury.
Rather than “sit on the shelf” while the champion is on the mend, Mendes wasted little time in deliberation. He kept his spot on the fight card and accepted the far less prestigious challenge of fighting Rani Yahya, a Brazilian submission savant. While a win against Yahya will not earn Mendes UFC gold, it will significantly raise his stock as Jose Aldo’s most worthy rival.
Like Chuck Liddell had famously done nearly a decade ago, Chad Mendes is now putting his top contender status on the line in order to stay active and do what he has dedicated his life to doing: fighting. It is an admirable decision, no doubt, but it is also a very risky one.
Will this decision lead him to similar success in his upcoming fight?
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