MMA: Hanford fighter Chad Mendes back in octagon Saturday for UFC on Fox 7

Chad Mendes is eager to get back in the octagon.

It has been four months since the UFC featherweight fighter from Hanford has fought.

“I’ve been waiting for a while,” Mendes told mmaworld.com. “Pretty sick of training.”

Since a December fight against Yaotzin Meza — whom Mendes knocked out in the first round — Mendes has had three fights lined up but never happen because of injuries to his opponents.

Mendes (13-1) doesn’t have to wait any longer, facing Darren Elkins on Saturday at HP Pavilion in San Jose on the preliminary card for UFC on FOX 7. His fight will be on FX starting at 2 p.m.

Elkins (17-2) hasn’t had a lengthy wait like Mendes, facing Antonio Carvalho last month and winning by technical knockout in the first round.

“I think Darren is a very underrated fighter and a really tough guy,” Mendes told UFC.com. “He’s got a great chin — I’ve seen him take some very, very heavy shots — he’s got great cardio, decent wrestling and decent boxing. He’s kind of a grinder and that’s basically my style as well. I feel like that’s why I’ve been so successful, because that’s a very difficult style to deal with for a lot of people. So I think this is a great matchup for me, I wish he had a little bit bigger name at this point just because of how tough he is, but it is what it is, and I think this is a great fight for me.”

Mendes originally was supposed to fight Clay Guida. But Guida had to pull out because of an injury and was replaced by Elkins, who has won fight straight.

“This is a great opportunity for me,” Elkins told the Sherdog Radio Network’s “Beatdown” show. “It’s not going to take a whole lot of motivation just because I’ve got an opportunity to put myself — if I beat Chad Mendes, that puts me right there in a title hunt. It’s a big opportunity, and I’m definitely going to rise up to the occasion.”

Mendes agreed and predicted the fight “will be one of my toughest fight to date.”

“If I was in his shoes, I would look at it as a chance to get at a title,” Mendes told mmaworld.com. “I feel confident in my skills. I just feel like I’m better and more athletic and powerful and my wrestling is better.”