UFC 142 is a big night for UFC featherweight king Jose Aldo, as he gets the chance to defend the belt in his home country of Brazil, but it might be an even bigger night for his challenger, undefeated Chad Mendes.
Since debuting in 2008, Mendes has put together an impressive 11-0 record, going 6-0 in the WEC/UFC.
At UFC 142, the Team Alpha Male protege looks to improve his unbeaten streak to 12 straight fights, while simultaneously capturing his first UFC title.
Mendes has the tools to defeat Aldo, without a doubt, but only if he forces the long-time champion to fight his fight.
Aldo is one of the most dangerous and dynamic strikers in the sport and so it would be unwise if Mendes chose to stand with him.
An accomplished collegiate wrestler, Mendes is a more skilled grappler than any of Aldo's previous opponents and therein lies Mendes' key to victory.
In this fight, Mendes needs to push the pace from the get-go and keep Aldo moving back. If possible, it would be optimum to get Aldo against the cage and work for the takedown from the clinch, as opposed to shooting double legs—which would leave him susceptible to flying knees.
It's no secret that Aldo has been having troubles making the cut down to 145 lbs, so if Mendes pushes the pace throughout the fight and forces Aldo to do a lot of clinch work, he has a good chance of wearing him down.
In short, Mendes needs to make this fight a fight the fans probably don't want to see—lots of clinch work, takedowns and top control.
If Mendes sticks to that game plan, we may soon be crowning a new featherweight champ.