The last time Chad Mendes set foot in the Octagon, Jose Aldo was the UFC’s featherweight champ. It’s been that long.
The Team Alpha Male product hasn’t competed since suffering a resounding first-round knockout loss to Frankie Edgar at “The Ultimate Fighter 22” finale on Dec. 11, 2015 — one day before Aldo was knocked out by Conor McGregor in 13 seconds to relinquish his long-held 145-pound throne.
Approximately six months later, Mendes was suspended for two years by USADA after testing positive for GHRP-6 (Growth Hormone-Releasing Hexapeptide) in an out-of-competition urine screening. Mendes did not deny taking the substance at the time, instead blaming the positive test on a skin cream he used to treat plaque psoriasis.
Now, set to compete for the first time in two-and-half years when he faces Myles Jury at UFC Fight Night 133 in Boise on Saturday, “Money” has learned at least one valuable lesson during the layoff.
If I could pull anything from this, is just really pay attention to what I’m putting on my body, putting in my body,” Mendes said on UFC Tonight. “It’s tough. As fighters, I’ve done it a lot, just take a supplement without reading everything on the back. I know it’s whey protein, or whatever it is and I just assume, ‘OK there’s not going to be anything illegal in this.’ But that’s not always the case. Sometimes there’s stuff that companies put in supplements that shouldn’t be in there as well. That’s just another situation that we have to deal with. All in all I’ve just got to really pay attention to what I’m using.”
Prior to his suspension, Mendes was one of the top featherweights in the UFC. Three times he challenged for championships, twice losing to Aldo in the Brazilian’s heyday before falling to Conor McGregor via second-round TKO in an interim title bout at UFC 189. After suffering back-to-back KO/TKO defeats at the hands of Edgar and McGregor, the time off may have been a blessing in disguise for Mendes.
“This time off has been good for me both mentally and physically, just being able to let my body heal up, my head heal up,” he said. “Those last two fights with Conor and getting caught by Frankie — both rung my bell and I just wanted to take a little time away too. The time off has been great. I have that drive, that motivation back.”