When imagining a fighter who’s considered multifaceted, perhaps you picture an athlete who competes in different weight classes. Or maybe one who dominates the ring across a variety of leagues. And while all this is true about Chad Mendes, it’s not exactly how that term describes him. A collegiate wrestler, a former mixed martial artist and now a bare-knuckle boxer beating his name into the record books, this man wears just as many hats outside of the cage as in – if not more.
Arguably having the most experience with UTVs of this formidable bunch, Chad spends his personal life in the wild… As a hunter, angler and guide. Two pastimes which are quite synonymous with utility terrain vehicles such as Polaris’ lineup of multifaceted (there’s that word again) machines like the Ranger family, General family, and of course, RZR.
Yet, he hasn’t had much opportunity to integrate high-performance models with his own outdoor outfit, Finz and Featherz – his pride and joy. An outlet for adventure and a bit of chaos in stark contrast to the high-stress, hyper controlled (comparably) environment he’s used to at the “office”.
So when Polaris called up with an offer to roll shotgun next to another transcendent athlete, RJ Anderson, the answer was a clear “hell yes!” And we caught up with him on that fateful day in Southern California on the set of Sunday Strolls to become acquainted with the down-to-earth wilderness man.
UTV Sports: While we wait for you to hop in the RZR Pro R, let’s get to know you a bit better!
Prior to this event, what did you know about UTVs?
Chad Mendes: I have a hunting and fishing guide service, so I have one of the [Polaris] Rangers. I’ve used those pretty much my whole life, but I’ve only been on the utility side of it. I’ve been a RZR once in my life, which was wicked. That was probably five or six years ago, so, this is going to be interesting.
USM: Well, that answers my question about whether or not you’ve spent time driving off-road…
CM: Yeah, I have definitely been off-road alot. Like I said, I take clients out in these [Rangers] all the time. But it’s nothing like this [referring to the RZR Pro R… Piloted by RJ Anderson] so, we’ll see what happens here.
USM: Okay, you’re experienced on dirt. But not dirt at speed. So… Tell us, what’s the fastest you’ve ever gone in a four-wheeled vehicle?
CM: Oh, man. Does a car count? (Yes.) I think… Pushing 150[mph] in my dad’s corvette.
USM: Not too bad…
UTVs are the vehicles of choice for many in the backwoods communities. As an avid hunter, fisherman and guide, have you utilized any off-road vessels for your excursions?
CM: Of course! I’ve used the Ranger NorthStar for the last couple years and it’s a complete game changer. Our ranch in Northern Cali gets up to 115 degrees in the summer. Having an enclosed cab with AC allows us to hunt when most people can’t stand to be out.
USM: You seem to be a bit of an adventure-seeker (to say the least). Are there any activities that work up some nerves?
CM: I’d say chasing big bull elk during the rut with a bow in hand gets me more wound up than anything. Having them screaming in your face at 10 yards gets pretty intense.
USM: Cage fighting, bare-knuckle boxing, hunting moose, nabbing gators… You face danger from so many angles. Tell us about a moment, inside or outside the cage, that really shook you. A time you might have actually felt scared or nervous.
CM: On my Alaskan moose hunt, me and my buddy had a huge grizzly come into camp and steal meat off the hanging station. It was only 30-40 yards from where we were sleeping. Grizzlies, sharks, wolves and mountain lions scare the absolute hell out of me!
USM: Now that you’ve taken a few laps with RJ, what are your thoughts about UTVs? Have they changed?
CM: I already knew these things were wicked, but this is night and day compared to what they were back when I rode five or six years ago. The power… The suspension on this specifically was unbelievable. [The Pro R] was super responsive! Multiple times, it felt like we were going to come into a corner and flip, but the car held its ground and kept on going.
USM: It’s an incredible machine. You have a pretty good driver behind the wheel as well [haha]. So, what do you think is the fastest speed you guys hit out there?
CM: I would guess probably 40 or 50[mph].
RJ Anderson: Over that [steep] crest, we’re doing about 50 miles per hour.
USM: It’s even faster than it sounds. (I should know.) Do you think you’re going to buy a RZR now?
CM: [Lots of laughing…] I’m going to say “yes”; my wife is going to say “no”.
USM: Comparing your most challenging fight to riding shotgun in a stock race car, which got your heart pumping more?
CM: I’d say it is two separate worlds. A big fight has so much pressure behind it and preparation that goes into it that it’s more of a focused experience. Whereas sitting back and letting a stud like RJ do this thing and getting to experience it first hand was something I truly enjoyed!! My heart was racing but only because it was one of the most exciting things I’ve ever done!
USM: If RJ’s driving skills reflected his fighting skills, how do you think he would do in the cage?
CM: He’d be the undisputed champion of the world without a doubt!
USM: You love fishing. We love fishing. Would you ever want to drive some RZRs down Baja California and do some sport fishing in the Pacific?
CM: Absolutely! That’s 100% on the bucket list, so let’s do it…
Check out Chad’s experience in the full final Episode of Sunday Strolls below!