For Chad Mendes, a main event fight with Ricardo Lamas was the chance to showcase his skills and keep his name at the top of the featherweight division.
Mendes did just that Saturday at UFC Fight Night 63, storming out of the gates and becoming the first fighter since 2009 to finish Lamas.
“Money,” who has lost just twice in his career to Jose Aldo, connected with a stiff right and even more strikes. Lamas, also a former title contender to Aldo, survived the first and second onslaughts, but the third was too much.
“This feels great,” he said. “I needed to make a statement. Ricardo is a great opponent and this means a lot.
“We’ve been working on slipping the right hand. I wanted to feel him out, find his timing; but then it was time to get it done and it happened.”
Aldo is set to defend his title in July against Conor McGregor, while Mendes’ Team Alpha Male teammate, Urijah Faber, takes on Frankie Edgar next. That leaves a little unknown for Mendes going forward.
“I am going to be watching both of those fights closely,” he said. “Whatever the UFC feels is worthy, I’m down.”