UFC 148: Cody McKenzie vs. Chad Mendes Head-to-Toe Breakdown
Though he broke a two-fight losing streak with a submission win over Marcus LeVesseur in his last fight, Cody McKenzie is dropping to 145 pounds for a bout with highly-ranked featherweight Chad Mendes. Coming off of a loss to UFC champion Jose Aldo, Mendes will be looking to turn things around with a win over McKenzie in early July.
While Mendes should be a heavy favorite heading into this fight, the pressure will be on his shoulders to avoid a second straight loss. Meanwhile, a bout with a former top contender like Mendes will give McKenzie an excellent opportunity to turn heads and make a big statement with a major upset.
Following the announcement of this bout, which will take place at UFC 148 in Las Vegas, let's take a look at how Mendes and McKenzie match up against one another.
Being knocked out by Jose Aldo is far from a sign that a fighter is sub-par in the striking department. Chad Mendes may not be the best striker in the 145-pound division, but being stopped by a knee from the best featherweight in the world certainly doesn't make him inferior to McKenzie in the stand-up department.
In one of the better performances of his young career, Mendes out-landed Michihiro Omigawa 56-to-18 in significant strikes on his way to a decision win. Meanwhile, McKenzie has been out-struck in every one of his official UFC appearances.
That being said, McKenzie is tough as nails and has never suffered an official knockout loss in his MMA career. A quicker striker with more technical movement than the wild McKenzie, Mendes may be able to out-land his opponent, but it's unlikely he'll pick up his first UFC knockout win.
On his feet, Chad Mendes will be able to avoid the notorious guillotine choke of Cody McKenzie. However, avoiding the ground game would also mean abandoning the strongest part of his game.
In his first two UFC appearances, Mendes scored a combined nine takedowns against skilled grapplers Michihiro Omigawa and Rani Yahya. An All-American wrestler at California Polytechnic State University, Mendes should be able to take McKenzie down with ease. However, along with trying to secure the takedown, Mendes will have to worry about becoming the 12th fighter to get caught in McKenzie's guillotine choke.
Ultimately, Mendes may go the safe route and elect to stand with McKenzie, but the opportunity to take the fight to the ground will be there whenever the Team Alpha Male product needs it.
Cody McKenzie has 12 submission wins in his career, of which almost all have been via guillotine choke. However, none of those wins came against a fighter anywhere near Chad Mendes' skill level. In fact, of the fighters McKenzie has submitted, only Marcus LeVesseur remains on the UFC roster, and his UFC career could depend on the outcome of his next fight.
Catching Mendes (who trains with expert grapplers like Urijah Faber) in a guillotine choke will be quite a challenge for McKenzie. Despite going to the ground with submission threats like Rani Yahya and Javier Vazquez, Mendes has never been submitted in his career. However, locking up a guillotine choke is about the only chance the Alaskan-born McKenzie has of mounting an upset and making a big splash in his featherweight debut.
An elite amateur wrestler and former featherweight title contender, Chad Mendes has now proven to be a world-class athlete in multiple sports. Meanwhile, Cody McKenzie is still fighting to be recognized as a legitimate UFC-level fighter.
Though it is McKenzie who is moving down in weight, Mendes appears to be both stronger and quicker than his UFC 148 opponent. If McKenzie has one thing going for him in this matchup, it's that very few people consider him anywhere near Mendes' level, so there is almost no pressure on the former TUF participant to win this fight.
Heading into this bout, Mendes appears to be one of the most lopsided favorites in recent UFC history. This is MMA, where anything can happen, but Mendes would be a safe bet almost 100 percent of the time he is matched up against McKenzie.
Mendes is the more talented fighter both standing and on the ground. He has the wrestling to keep the fight standing if he chooses and the submission defense to avoid being added to McKenzie's long list of submission victims.
McKenzie's toughness will get him through the opening round, as it did in his first two UFC losses. However, after fending off McKenzie's guillotine choke with superior skill in the second round, Mendes will put a beating on his opponent on the ground and force the referee to stop the fight.
Mendes defeats McKenzie by technical knockout (punches) in the second round.