UFC 142 Prediction: Jose Aldo to make a statement against MendesPosted on January 9, 2012, 06:16 AM by Evan Holober
Next Saturday, Jose Aldo will put his title on the line against Chad Mendes. Their match headlines the UFC’s second foray into Brazil, after a wildly successful first show earlier this year. Jose, whose list of conquered foes contains Urijah Faber and Mike Brown, will be putting his title on the line for the fifth time.
So what makes Chad "Money" Mendes different than Urijah Faber and Mike Brown? That's the question I asked myself when breaking down the scrap between Aldo and the UFC's #1 contender at 145 lbs next Saturday night. Like Faber (and Brown), Mendes is a wrestler first. His skills have come along slowly since his debut in August of 2008, but when faced with adversity he'll still revert to that blast double that's been his calling card in wins against Erik Koch, Javier Vasquez, and Cub Swanson (among others). That game plan didn't work against Aldo for Brown or Faber. However, Money's background as the NCAA national runner-up in 2008 (along with his All-American finish in 2006) far exceeds anything the aforementioned former champions accomplished on the wrestling mat. The question remains how will that ability fare against a top 5 pound-for-pound feather weight champion, whose top tier in nearly every category of mixed martial arts.
Enter Jose Aldo: The dominant wrecking machine who has laid waste to the top 145lbers in the world over the last 3 years. He was exceptional in every way against Mike Brown; as he demolished the undisputed champion with strikes, and took control on the ground to pound out a TKO victory early in the second round. Next up was the former face of the WEC in Urijah Faber. Aldo broke down "The California Kid" with leg kicks, and even worked him over on the ground (as he could have easily earned a stoppage using a crucifix in the fourth round) on his way to a shut out unanimous decision victory. After that came Manny Gamburyan. The Ultimate Fighter finalist came into the match on the heels of a knockout victory of Brown. However, like MTB, Aldo dispatched of The Armenian early in the second. Jose's next two fights didn't come as easy though.
In the lead up to his fight with Hominick, Aldo's struggles with making 145lbs were documented everywhere. It showed in his performance as he hurt Mark badly throughout the fight with counters on the feet, but was content to spend the entire final round on his back taking hard punches. His energy was gone. He didn't face nearly as much adversity in his last fight with Kenny Florian, but he also most likely lost a round or two on the way to a lack luster points victory. If he has another bout that fails to impress, and he fights not to lose. Do comparisons to GSP start to become valid (along with inevitable criticisms for playing it safe)?
Chad Mendes hasn't exactly set the world on fire either though. Two fights ago he took out highly respected Japanese standout Michihiro Omigawa. His striking was much improved, and Mendes added in a few takedowns to complete a dominant decision victory. Omigawa was hurt on at least a few occasions in the first and second rounds, but Mendes never went in for the kill. The former Abu Dhabi Combat Club grappling champion Rani Yahya was Mendes' doorway to a title shot. Mendes didn't bust through that door, as much as he gently nudged it and jogged through. The main event next weekend could go a few different ways in my humble opinion.
Chad Mendes could come in flat, and not set up his shots well. This would let Aldo get into a striking rhythm, and pick Chad apart. Jose could show up drained from a massive weight cut again. Which would let the pressure from Mendes slowly wear him down through five rounds. The last is Jose and the challenger both show up, and we get a war on par with Edgar-Maynard 2.
Speaking of Gray Maynard, I actually think he will be the proverbial "Ace in the hole" for Aldo, next week. Maynard has been down at Nova Uniao helping train Jose for this event, and rolling with a wrestler that good is invaluable when getting ready for a former All-American. A couple weeks with Maynard and "Scarface" will be more than ready for Team Alpha Male's newest title challenger.
Aldo is just too far ahead of Mendes right now. A couple more years of training MMA full-time will do wonders for Chad, but this is just a little too early in his career to take on Jose. Chad might get a few takedowns, and maybe win the first. But the power and leg kicks from Aldo will be the deciding factors. Half-way through the second, Mendes will be slowing down. “Scarface” will end this contest in the third.
Jose Aldo to make a statement.