“Styles make fights.” At least that is what we have been told during the last few years of mixed martial arts’ rise to mainstream relevance. At UFC 142 we will see yet another example of the ideal when current featherweight titleholder Jose Aldo will face off against Team Alpha Male powerhouse Chad Mendes. This main event is one of the more intriguing matchups that we have seen in recent months.
It is well known that Mendes is a wrestler’s wrestler and can take down just about anyone that he faces. In each of his 11 bouts he has placed his opponent flat on his back, using his grappling to control every one, as he has racked up decision victory after decision victory. Many individuals have stated that this ability will be what allows him to defeat Aldo in this upcoming bout, but I am skeptical of this thought.
While Mendes is the better wrestler for sure, Aldo has also shown the ability to take down his opponent at will. He did so against both Kenny Florian and Mark Hominick in 2011. I’m not saying that Aldo is going to be able to do the same against Mendes, but I do think he will be able to make the wrestling action more difficult than many expect. Aldo has faced three other opponents with takedown prowess akin to that of Mendes, and he defeated all three: Urijah Faber, Mike Thomas Brown and Manny Gamburyan. Each time he was able to stifle their wrestling and judo skills, and work his striking on the way to victory.
I wonder how well Mendes will be able to deal with Aldo’s striking ability as he moves in close for the takedown. He was able to dominate Michihiro Omigawa at UFC 126, his best victory against an accomplished fighter so far. Yet he hasn’t faced a fighter who can throw strikes at the pace and level of accuracy that Aldo does in his bouts. However, Mendes could potentially catch one of Aldo’s patented leg kicks and take him down from there, an action that he has doubtlessly practiced time and time again leading up to this bout.
One thing for sure is that the questions about Aldo’s gas tank are viable ones. In his bouts against Florian and Hominick he tired as the fight went on. Against Mendes, that could be a scary situation, as “Money” has the gas tank that will push him through five rounds. His strong wrestling background will give him the ability to continue driving forward and going after takedowns, as we have seen with many other wrestlers in the sport of MMA.
This bout is tough to call. If it goes the distance I believe that Mendes will have what it takes to walk away as the new champion. However, if it ends quickly, then Aldo was likely able to find the challenger’s chin and take him out, as he has done many times before.
UFC 142’s main event is a fascinating contest that fight fans should be looking forward to.