SAO PAULO - Chad Mendes is finally getting his chance for payback against his UFC rival Jose Aldo.
In a highly anticipated championship fight in the featherweight division, Mendes is back in Rio de Janeiro to face the home-crowd favorite in UFC 179 on Saturday.
Aldo, the only champion the division has known, defeated the American with a first-round knockout in Rio in 2012. The rematch at the Maracanazinho arena brings together the top two featherweight fighters in mixed martial arts.
In another fight Saturday, Brazilian Glover Teixeira (22-3), who fell short in his challenge to light heavyweight champion Jon Jones in his previous fight, will face American Phil Davis (12-2), the former NCAA wrestling national champion.
Mendes has been dominant since his lone career defeat two years ago, winning four of his next five fights by knockout.
"This is a huge fight for me, all about redemption, payback," Mendes told UFC.com. "This is something I've been waiting for for a couple of years now. I had the opportunity once in Brazil against him and it just didn't go my way."
Mendes lost with one second left in the opening round in 2012, falling flat on his back after Aldo's powerful knee strike to his face, a knockout that ignited a raucous celebration by the Brazilian crowd.
"I trained so hard and I was so ready, and I didn't get to use any of it," Mendes said. "I didn't get to push through anything."
He said things will be different this time.
"(Aldo) hasn't had a reason to change things up because he's been beating everybody, but I've changed my game," Mendes said. "I've grown up and matured a lot, and I truly believe this will be a different fight. I'm gonna be the guy to get in there and test his heart. I'm going to get him out of his comfort zone."
Mendes (16-1) guarantees he has learned from his mistakes and has "changed dramatically" since his first fight against the Brazilian.
"I'm ready to get back in there and prove to the world I am the best featherweight. Now is the time," he said. "I'm in his head. In the back of his mind he knows his time is up and that I'm going to take his belt."
Aldo (24-1) will be fighting to keep his belt and extend a 14-fight winning streak, the second longest behind Anderson Silva's 16 victories from 2006 to 2012.
"(Mendes) is a dangerous guy, but he (hasn't) fought a striker (like me) after our fight," Aldo said. "He is of course more experienced. This could change a few things."
Aldo also will be fighting for national pride, currently the only Brazilian UFC champion among all weight divisions.
"I did everything I could in terms of preparation," he said. "Now it's time to go fight and to win again."