For the first time in his UFC career, Nik Lentz will fight on a UFC main card tonight as he meets top featherweight contender Chad Mendes at UFC on FOX 9 in Sacramento.
Lentz (24-5-2, 1NC) has been in the UFC since 2009 and had his first nine fights take place in the lightweight division.
Following back to back defeats to Mark Bocek and Evan Dunham, he dropped down to the featherweight division.
The American Top Team product has won three in a row in the division and most recently defeated Hacran Dias at UFC on FX 8 in Brazil. While many United States fighters have struggled to win in Brazil, he has won back to back fights in Brazil and this will be his first fight in the United States in 16 months.
He is current ranked number eight in the UFC media rankings and tonight is the biggest fight for him in his UFC career. A victory over Mendes would put himself “in the mix” as UFC President Dana White likes to say.
He showed up to the UFC on FOX 9 Pre-Fight Press Conference wearing a bow tie, which he stated was to class the place up and make a statement.
“I want to class up the place a little bit,” Lentz said. “There are people showing up with their plain fighter clothes on. I want to make sure I am here for the event. I came here to make a statement. With my dress, with my fight, and with everything. I am going to make a statement and this is just the beginning of it.”
Tonight will mark the thirteenth time that he will set inside the UFC octagon and marks the first time he will appear on the main card. He was the headliner of the UFC on FX 8 preliminary card and appreciated the UFC giving him the opportunity to face a former title challenger on a UFC on FOX card.
“It’s about damn time that I got some attention. I appreciate the UFC giving me this opportunity and if Chad thinks he is going to knock me right away, he is sadly mistaken.”
During the lead up to his fight tonight, he has made multiple statements about Mendes and those statements have irked Mendes. During the pre-fight press conference on Thursday, Mendes explained that he doesn’t like that Lentz believes he will come out the victor tonight.
“I have to be honest,” Mendes said. “I don’t like the guy. I haven’t disliked many people that I have fought. His demeanor, the way he thinks he is going to run through me. He is cocky and I don’t like it.”
Lentz does know that Mendes is a good fighter and is a proven contender in the UFC featherweight division. However, he feels he is one of the best fighters in the world.
“There is no doubt that Mendes is a good fighter but I truly think I am one of the best fighters in the world. If I did not say that and I did not believe that, than why the hell would I be here.”