Ricardo Lamas isn’t interested in playing the waiting game for another title opportunity.
A quick look at the recent history of the UFC’s featherweight division reveals that the route The Bully has traveled to reach the elite tier of the 145-pound fold has been anything but typical. The 32-year-old Chicago native has found victory in all but one of his seven showings since dropping down into the featherweight ranks back in 2011, with his lone setback coming against dominant Brazilian champion Jose Aldo at UFC 169 in February 2014.
Yet the road to his showdown with Junior was a trying process—and one he hasn’t forgotten.
After smashing former No. 1 contender Erik Koch at UFC on Fox 6 in his hometown in January 2013, he watched his title shot be given to lightweight contender Anthony Pettis. Lamas’ frustration from that turn of events only grew stronger, as an injury would force Showtime out of his bout with Jose Aldo at UFC 163, and the Illinois-based fighter’s upcoming bout with Chan Sung Jung was scrapped when The Korean Zombie was tapped to step in to fight the Brazilian phenom.
Lamas’ long-awaited title shot would eventually come and go, but he walked away from the experience with a clear perspective on the division he calls home. The 145-pound collective has become one of the most competitive weight classes under the UFC banner over the past two years, and it shows no signs of slowing down anytime soon. Therefore, Lamas knows there is no room for error if he wants another title shot, and his work inside the Octagon has supported that notion.
Following his first loss as a featherweight, Lamas rebounded strongly by picking up victories in his next two outings. His most recent win came against Dennis Bermudez at UFC 180 last November as Lamas put an abrupt end to one of the longest winning streaks in the 145-pound division. Lamas’ victory in Mexico City put him back into the running for a potential title shot, and he believes his next fight has the potential to secure another championship opportunity.
The Miami transplant will square off with former two-time title challenger Chad Mendes at Fight Night 63 when the UFC returns to Fairfax, Virginia, on April 4. Lamas is confident a victory over the Team Alpha Male staple will be the exact caliber of statement he needs to make in order to secure his next shot at the featherweight strap.
“I feel a win in this fight will put me right back at the top and next in line for a title shot,” Lamas told Bleacher Report. “Mendes is a great fighter, and I’m a guy who rises to the level of my opponents. I know this is going to be a great fight, and I believe Chad Mendes is going to bring the best out of me.
“I think I picked up a lot of momentum in my last fight. Bermudez was on a huge winning streak, and I finished him in the first round. Mendes is just a beast, and he took it to the champ in his last fight. A victory over him will solidify me as the No. 1 contender.”
While the main event at Fight Night 63 will feature two fighters who are determined to resume their respective title chases, the matchup also presents interesting stylistic aspects as well. Whereas both men found their initial success in MMA because of their strong wrestling skills, Lamas and Mendes have also shown gained improvements in their striking games in recent outings.
Aggression and killer instinct have never been in short supply for either fighter, and Lamas is confident his bout with the Sacramento-based fighter will be an action-packed affair.
“I think we match up very well with one another,” Lamas said. “We both have styles that are going to put on a great fight for the fans to watch. With two good wrestlers going in there, a lot of the time, the wrestling will cancel out. No one is able to get the takedown, and it ends up being a slugfest. Everyone loves watching those fights.
“Every single fight I train for, I prepare to go the distance,” he added. “You can’t do it any other way. You have to be ready to go the full 25 minutes. You train for the worst and hope for the best in there. That’s how I come into every fight, and I’m always ready to go.”
Duane Finley is a featured columnist for Bleacher Report. All quotes are obtained firsthand unless noted otherwise.
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Courtesy of :Bleacher Report – UFC