Chad Mendes has praised the UFC for allowing him to sign with the Bare Knuckle Fighting Championship while still under contract with the promotion.
Mendes, who is a former UFC title challenger, competed on MMA’s biggest stage from 2011 to 2018. Despite falling short of UFC gold in fights against José Aldo and Conor McGregor, “Money” racked up victories over the likes of Clay Guida, Rani Yahya, Nik Lentz, and Darren Elkins during his time in the promotion.
After a defeat to current UFC featherweight Champion Alexander Volkanovski at UFC 232, Mendes announced his retirement from combat sports. But after a near three-year hiatus, the 36-year-old recently revealed a multi-fight deal with BKFC.
Despite still being under an active contract with MMA’s biggest promotion, Chad Mendes was allowed to join multiple ex-UFC stars on the BKFC roster.
During an appearance on MMA on Sirius XM, “Money” revealed his ongoing contract with the Dana White-led company, and stated that the opportunity to return to the UFC is there if he ever decides he wants to.
“But here’s the tricky part is I’m still under UFC contract. I still have fights on my contract, and so the UFC (is) basically allowing me to go make some money doing this bare-knuckle, and basically I still have a home with the UFC if I ever wanted to come back. Obviously, my contract at the time of signing it was four, five years ago or something like that. It’s not a very good contract anymore. At the time, it was pretty good, but I would definitely need to re-talk and re-figure that sucker out.” (h/t Bloody Elbow)
Mendes’ revelation will come as a surprise to many, especially considering the UFC’s attitude to Georges St-Pierre’s recent attempts to meet Oscar De la Hoya inside the boxing ring. The Californian revealed his own surprise at being allowed to fight under a different banner, but praised the UFC for recognizing the work he’d done for the promotion before his retirement.
“I thought they were just gonna say, ‘Screw you, not happening.’ But I’ve always had a good relationship with the UFC. I felt I always tried to go above and beyond doing all the media and doing everything that led up to fights and I always trained my ass off and went in there and just competed as hard as I possibly could. It is awesome to see them kind of recognize that and allow this to happen.”
While St-Pierre’s failed effort to branch out beyond the UFC is still fresh, Mendes even revealed he’d had his own talks about potentially boxing De la Hoya, who is a former world champion in six different weight classes.
“They threw out some big numbers and I’ve always wanted to try boxing. There was actually a little bit of talk with De La Hoya, even, just getting in there and doing some boxing with him.”
Fans and pundits will understandably now be asking why Mendes has been allowed to sign elsewhere while under an active UFC contract, but the legendary St-Pierre wasn’t afforded the same treatment. In May, the former UFC champion, De La Hoya, and Triller executive Ryan Kavanaugh all confirmed that UFC President Dana White had blocked a potential crossover fight for the Canadian, owing to his ongoing UFC commitment.
“I understand that Dana didn’t want me to fight,” St-Pierre said in an interview with Cinema Blend. “However, it would have been fun. Because my career as a professional fighter, to become the best in the world in mixed martial arts, is done. I’m turning 40 years old tomorrow; I’m going to be 40 years old. It’s a young man’s game… However, to rather fight a boxing match under the rules that Triller put on against the legendary Oscar De La Hoya? For me, it would have been a dream come true.”
Nevertheless, “Rush” recently claimed that he’ll be free from his restrictive UFC contract in around two years, and if he’s still in fighting shape, perhaps he’ll join the likes of Chad Mendes and test new waters for his return to action.
Should Georges St-Pierre have been allowed to fight Oscar De La Hoya by the UFC?