Chad Mendes, the top UFC featherweight contender, cemented that status with the quick destruction of Ricardo “The Bully” Lamas in the main event of UFC’s Saturday afternoon in Fairfax, Va. Mendes rocked Lamas with a right hand and Lamas was never able to fully recover. Mendes continued to attack an off-balance Lamas, who attempted in vain to tie Mendes up and avoid his power punches.
Mendes, an elite wrestler upon entering the sport of MMA, has transformed himself into a top-of-the-line MMA striker and has won five of his last seven fights via TKO. He is one of the best fighters in the world to not hold a title.
With this victory, Mendes now has a strong interest in the July 11 UFC featherweight title showdown between champion Jose Aldo and challenger Conor McGregor. Aldo and Mendes have fought twice, with Aldo handing Mendes the only two losses of Mendes’ career. A third fight could still be marketed because the second fight was exciting and competitive, but Mendes might have to wait, given that loss to Aldo was Aldo’s last fight.
If, however, the Irish trash talker McGregor wins, Mendes would almost certainly be next in line for a title shot. Mendes and McGregor have entered into a war of words and the fight would be a natural. It’s also a much more favorable matchup for Mendes, as McGregor’s wrestling is the biggest question mark in his game and that is Mendes’ background.
In the co-main event of the card, Al Iaquinta picked up a controversial split decision over Jorge Masvidal. Masvidal dominated Iaquinta in the first round and opened up a ghastly cut on Iaquinta that bled for the rest of the fight. But Iaquinta came on in the second and third rounds, which were both close. The combination of Iaquinta bleeding so badly and losing the only clear round led to the crowd loudly booing the decision.
This led to a wild spectacle after the fight. Masvidal stormed out of the cage, protesting the decision and refusing to be interviewed. Iaquinta when interviewed could hardly be heard over the crowd boos. Iaquinta, furious at being booed, asked if the crowd was booing him when he fought his heart out. The crowd continued to boo, so a livid Iaquinta swore at the crowd, ended the interview and stormed out of the cage. It’s rare when both fighters leave a fight so livid.
In one of the most impressive performances of the afternoon, Dustin Poirier made a successful return to the lightweight division. Poirier became the first fighter to stop Carlos Diego Ferreira, dropping him with a three-punch combination and exploding with additional shots on the ground until the referee called off the fight and ruled Poirier the winner via TKO. Formerly an elite featherweight, Poirier will look to build a lightweight winning streak when he fights next in his home state of Louisiana.
Michael Chiesa, a former Ultimate Fighter winner, rebounded from a setback against Joe Lauzon to defeat Mitch Clarke via unanimous decision. Chiesa landed the biggest blows on the feet and controlled Clarke on the ground as well in a dominant performance. Two of the judges scored both of the first two rounds 10-8 for Chiesa.
Another former Ultimate Fighter winner Julianna Pena returned to action after a severe knee injury that kept her out of action a year and a half. Opponent Milana Dudieva had no answers when Pena scored full mount position and Pena hammered away until the referee finally was forced to call off the bout.
Crowd favorite Clay Guida scored a unanimous decision win over Robbie Peralta, frustrating Peralta with his wrestling and scoring a few impressive slams in what was a generally lackluster fight.
Former UFC lightweight title challenger Gray Maynard dropped his fourth straight fight, losing via unanimous decision to the “Thunder of the North” Alexander Yakovlev. Maynard, now 35, nearly defeated then-champion Frankie Edgar in the first round of title fights on two separate occasions, but Edgar survived to retain his title via draw and then via knockout. Maynard hasn’t looked like the same fighter since being knocked out by Edgar.