Newly retired UFC standouts Alexander Gustafsson and Chad Mendes never came close to competing in the same weight class, but their respective careers are remarkably similar.
Former UFC featherweight title challenger Chad Mendes (18-5 MMA) confirmed his previously announced retirement plans earlier this evening. Meanwhile, former UFC light heavyweight title challenger Alexander Gustafsson (18-6 MMA) decided to hang up his gloves last month, this following a submission loss to Anthony Smith.
Despite their overall records being almost identical, sitting at eighteen professional victories apiece, there are far more similarities when it comes to the careers of Gustafsson and Mendes.
‘The Mauler’ stepped foot in the octagon sixteen times during his UFC career, finishing with a record of 10-6. Prior to entering the octagon for the first time in November of 2009, Alexander Gustafsson had put together a perfect 8-0 record on the regional scene.
Similar to Gustafsson, ‘Money’ went 9-0 as a professional before making his UFC debut. Mendes would go on to compete fourteen times for the Ultimate Fighting Championship, compiling an overall promotional record of 9-5.
Both Alexander Gustafsson and Chad Mendes proved to be amongst the best fighters in history for their respective weight classes.
During his streak of dominance inside the cage, Gustafsson defeated the likes of Vladimir Matyashenko, Thiago Silva, Jimi Manuwa, Glover Teixeira and former division champion Mauricio ‘Shogun’ Rua.
Not to be outdone, Mendes defeated names such as Cub Swanson, Rani Yahya, Darren Elkins, Ricardo Lamas, Myles Jury and former Strikeforce lightweight champion Clay Guida during his time with the WEC and UFC.
Despite their incredible success inside the octagon, neither Alexander Gustafsson or Chad Mendes were able to capture UFC titles during their time with the promotion.
That unfortunately was not due to lack of opportunity, as both ‘The Mauler’ and ‘Money’ received three shots each at UFC gold.
Chad Mendes first fought for the UFC featherweight title at UFC 142 in January of 2012, where he suffered a brutal first round knockout loss to then 145-pound kingpin Jose Aldo.
Meanwhile, Alexander Gustafsson received his first opportunity at UFC 165 in September of 2013, where he fell just short in his bid to dethrone Jon Jones. That fight, which many fans still believe ‘Gus’ should have won, is considered to be one of the greatest of all time.
Two years down the road from their first ever title opportunities, both Chad Mendes and Alexander Gustafsson had done enough to earn second cracks at UFC gold.
‘Money’ would rematch Jose Aldo at UFC 179 in October of 2014, in a bout the ended up being deemed ‘fight of the year’. Unfortunately for Mendes, the Brazilian would once again prove victorious, this time by way of unanimous decision.
As for Alexander Gustafsson, his second shot at UFC gold came against Daniel Cormier at UFC 192 in October of 2015. Like Mendes, ‘The Mauler’ put on a hell of a fight in his second title opportunity, but ultimately fell short to the UFC’s reigning heavyweight champion via split-decision in his quest to procure the promotions light heavyweight title.
Chad Mendes would receive his third and final shot at a UFC championship in July of 2015, when he stepped up on short-notice to fight Conor McGregor for the promotions interim featherweight title. After a solid opening round for Mendes, McGregor would end up defeating the Team Alpha Male product in round two via TKO.
Alexander Gustafsson would challenge for the UFC light heavyweight title a third and final time at December’s UFC 232 event in Los Angeles where he got his long awaited rematch with Jon Jones. Unfortunately for the Swede, his second bout with ‘Bones’ proved to be much less competitive than their first fight, as he was eventually defeated by knockout in round three.
It could be argued that Alexander Gustafsson and Chad Mendes are the two greatest UFC fighters to never earn a championship with the promotion.
Despite their failed title bids, both men will surely go down in history as ‘one of the best ever’ in their respective divisions.
This article first appeared on BJPENN.com July 10, 2019