Hanford fighter Chad "Money" Mendes knocked out Ricardo Lamas in the first round in Saturday's main event at UFC Fight Night 63 in Fairfax, Va., potentially setting up another title showdown with featherweight champ Jose Aldo.
The 29-year-old Mendes pounded Lamas (15-4, 6-2 UFC) with a series of early kicks, according to ringside observers.
Lamas landed an uppercut but Mendes countered with a powerful right hook that dropped his opponent and allowed for a barrage of punches before letting the referee step in and call the technical knockout 2:45 into the round.
Mendes (17-2, 8-2) won for the sixth time in his past seven bouts. And the victory is seen as putting him in prime position for another crack at the title held by Aldo, whom Mendes lost to narrowly at UFC 179 in October after a defeat by KO in their first bout in January 2012.
"That is exactly what I was looking for," Mendes said in a post-fight interview. "I needed to make a big statement.
"Lamas is a super tough dude, so I was honestly expecting to get in there and go through a five-round war. That’s how I envisioned it in my mind, and that’s the way I was hoping it was going to go. To get in there and let my hands go felt great, and I got the finish."
Aldo is scheduled to face top contender Conor McGregor in the main event of UFC 189 in July in Las Vegas.