Jose Aldo and Chad Mendes

Jose Aldo and Chad Mendes

Come January 14th, the Ultimate Fighting Championship will return to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil with UFC 142. Current featherweight champion Jose Aldo will look to defend his title against undefeated challenger Chad “Money” Mendes in the headliner of this event.

Prior to the merging of World Extreme Cagefighting (WEC) and the UFC, Jose Aldo (20-1) first earned the featherweight title after defeating Mike Brown via a second round TKO at WEC 44 on November 18, 2009. Following two successful WEC title defences, Aldo became the inaugural UFC featherweight champion when the WEC merged with the UFC in October 2010.

Come this Saturday, Aldo will look to remain the sole featherweight champion in UFC history. The question is does his undefeated challenger Chad Mendes (11-0) possess the skills to put an end to Aldo’s featherweight reign?

During his time in the WEC, Aldo’s wins for the most part came via TKO. Seeing as Aldo has displayed the ability to utilize Muay Thai techniques in a devastating matter, consisting of damaging leg kicks, elbows, and even a double flying knee KO, it comes as no surprise that Aldo is known primarily for his powerful unorthodox striking abilities. In addition to his striking abilities, Aldo holds a black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.

Aldo’s challenger, Chad Mendes, possesses a very different skill set. Central to Mendes’ skills is his wrestling ability. Mendes has consistently controlled the pace of his fights by executing takedowns, followed by dominant ground control, primarily earning victories via unanimous decision. In terms of striking, Mendes’ credibility lies predominantly in his speed. Mendes currently trains with Team Alpha Male, alongside fellow UFC fighter Urijah Faber.

Although victorious in his last two bouts, many have said Aldo’s performance has changed dramatically since joining the UFC roster, stating he has not displayed the same dominance in the UFC as he consistently displayed in the WEC. Prior to his time in the UFC, Aldo possessed a seemingly impenetrable aura of invincibility, one that has since been disrupted.  In addition to potential overwhelming pressure, or tougher competition, I think Aldo’s weight cutting is a potential contributor. Aldo’s weight cutting issues were strongly emphasized during UFC 129 in his bout against Mark Hominick. Following the release of a Youtube video (which has since been removed) documenting Aldo’s weight cutting process and obvious discontent, Aldo appeared fatigued, especially in the later rounds of his bout against Hominick. I believe weight cutting obstacles could potentially account for Aldo’s seemingly diminished killer instinct.

Mendes, who has publicly said he will utilize his superior wrestling skills to defeat Aldo, will undoubtedly execute a number of takedown attempts during the bout. Aldo, who has displayed good takedown defence in the past, will need to be in a state that enables him to utilize his takedown defence to the best of his abilities, as well as to not allow Mendes to easily gain top control.

With that said, I think Aldo possesses the skills to beat Chad Mendes, despite any potential downsides associated with weight cutting.

In relation to the stand up aspect of this bout odds are strongly in favour of Jose Aldo. His striking abilities far outweigh those of Chad Mendes. Although Mendes has displayed impressive speed, he has yet to display the same power or unorthodox technique Aldo has. Speaking on training partner Urijah Faber’s loss to Aldo, Mendes stated he will not make the same mistake of allowing Aldo to land leg kicks. In addition to superior striking abilities, Aldo also has a four inch reach advantage over Mendes. Ultimately, I think Mendes will prove avoiding Aldo’s strikes is a lot easier said than done.

In preparation for this bout Aldo trained with lightweight Gray Maynard. Maynard, similar to Mendes, has a NCAA wrestling background. I predict this training with Maynard will prove to be beneficial for Aldo.

Although Aldo has displayed credible takedown defence in the past, if Mendes does score a takedown, as it is likely he will, I feel it’s unlikely he will do much damage once on the ground. I sense Mendes will try to control the fight on the ground for all five rounds, in hopes of earning a unanimous decision. I trust Aldo will utilize his BJJ skills to counter Mendes’ control, enabling him to score a submission or get the fight back to the feet, where he will dictate the pace and dominate.

Overall I predict Aldo’s striking, takedown defence, and BJJ abilities will prove to outweigh Mendes’ wrestling skills. Additionally, I think fighting in front of his home crowd will bring life to Aldo’s once apparent killer instinct.

My Pick: Jose Aldo

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Follow Munique on Twitter: @UFC_Obsessed