The third time almost was the charm for Chad Mendes. Taking an interim featherweight title fight on two weeks’ notice against Conor McGregor in July, the Californian had everything going his way against the Irishman. He took McGregor down, he was raining down strikes, and blood was flowing, but it wasn’t his. In his third try at the UFC’s 145-pound crown, “Money” was about to cash in.

“I was dropping giant elbows on his face, I cut him with one of them, and that’s always great to see in a fight because you know there’s always that possibility of it being stopped,” Mendes said. “And being able to get on top of a guy like Conor and just unleash with whatever you want, it just felt great. I was definitely in the moment.”

Unfortunately, that moment was fleeting, and as Mendes’ limited gas tank ran down to empty, McGregor capitalized, catching and stopping his foe at 4:57 of the second round. It was a gamble, Mendes rolled the dice, and came up snake eyes. But he would do it all over again.

“I have absolutely no regrets,” he said. “I took that fight on short notice and I knew going in that obviously that’s a huge risk, but anything can happen in this sport. Who knows? I could have went out there and caught him with an overhand right and put him to sleep in the first round and then I’m the new champ. It’s about taking risks. This is our job, this is what we do. I get the offer and I’m not gonna turn it down. We get a short time to get in there and do this, so I’m not ever going to turn down a title fight, whether it’s two weeks’ notice or I have a full training camp.”

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Thumbnail photo via Joe Camporeale/USA TODAY Sports Images

Thumbnail photo via Chad Mendes and Conor McGregor at UFC 189