Augusto Mendes. Photo by Legacy Fighting Championship.

Brazilian jiu-jitsu specialist Augusto Mendes makes his return to the Octagon at UFC Fight Night 103, following 11 months on the sidelines.

BJJ black belt Mendes – who spent six months of 2016 recovering from ACL surgery – will face Phoenix, Arizona’s own Frankie Saenz.

With a record of 5-1 in MMA, Mendes is known for his accolades in BJJ, a World Champion in 2013 and Abu Dhabi Tournament Champion (2011/2013).

Ready to show his skills for the first time since a knockout loss to current champion Cody Garbrandt last February, Mendes expects a difficult contest from Saenz.

“I expect a tough fight, it’s a big challenge to me,” claimed Mendes. “Saenz is dangerous, good in stand-up and I believe he doesn’t want to fight on the ground this time.

“It’s a conflict of styles and I hope the fans can enjoy that because I am coming to do an amazing fight for them.”

The 33-year-old Brazilian now resides in Pheonix, training out of Soul Fighters Jui-Jitsu, meaning it isn’t just a home affair for opponent Saenz.

Mendes’s fight with Saenz will feature on the undercard of UFC Phoenix, which also spells the return for UFC legend B.J. Penn. “Tanquinho” went on to explain that Penn’s return was a major reason he desired to compete on the card.

“[To] be on the same card as [B.J. Penn] and fighting in my hometown are the reasons that I requested to UFC to be a part of the event.

“B.J. is a legend of this sport, I’ve admired him before he was a champion in the UFC. I’m rooting for B.J. in this fight [against Yair Rodriguez] and I expect our BJJ skills can help to bring us victories.”

Meanwhile, with Saenz firmly in his sight on Sunday night, Mendes discussed the possibility of a rematch with Bantamweight title holder Garbrandt.

After his loss to “No Love” in the last fight, Augusto wants to take another chance to compete with him in future.

“He has surprised many people. I know he is tough and he was a champion with merits but I know we will collide sometime in the near future.”

Also, Mendes hopes to compete two or three times in 2017 whilst staying injury free.