During the time leading up to tonight's fight between featherweight champion Jose Aldo and Chad "Money" Mendes, we've seen a lot of different opinions on how Mendes is the guy to dethrone Aldo and expose him. It's an extremely difficult task, but I think he actually can do it.
If you look at Aldo's last two fights, it shows that if a fighter can withstand his initial onslaught of unorthodox and powerful striking, a fighter with outstanding cardio can push the pace and overwhelm him. When he fought Kenny Florian, he was the fresher man in the later rounds because the effects of the weight cut started to cut into Ken-Flo's power and speed and took him out of his game plan. Some would argue that it was more of a Florian loss than an Aldo win.
In his fight against Mark Hominick, Aldo's stamina was really called into question. Aldo blitzed Hominick early on in the fight, but Hominick was able to secure takedowns later in the fight and whittle down Aldo in the waning minutes. Even though it was not enough for a win, it raised eyebrows that Aldo was fallible.
So if Mendes wants the belt he has to use the cardio that is the calling card of Team Alpha Male fighters. Fellow Team Alpha Male fighter and former WEC champion Urijah Faber didn't fare so well against Aldo in his attempt, but though many like to compare the two, they have a couple fundamental differences.
Mendes goes for more explosive double-leg takedowns and he sets up his takedowns with his striking. Faber goes for single-leg takedowns and doesn't set up his takedowns as much. Mendes seems to be a little stronger in this weight class than Faber was, so if he does secure a takedown, he will be able to use his strength to keep Aldo down.
All in all, Mendes will work with Faber and devise a plan of action that won't allow him to get kicked in the leg a million times, and will also allow him to control the fight and dictate the pace. I look for Mendes to disguise his takedowns and beat Aldo up on the ground and shock the country.
Chad Mendes by Unanimous Decision