Mendes needed just 31 seconds to finish off McKenzie, as he landed a vicious punch to the solar plexus, then unleashed a series of hammer fists after McKenzie crumbled to the canvas. The referee was forced to step in, giving Mendes a TKO victory.
It was important for Mendes to get back in the win column after losing to Jose Aldo in his last fight. That matchup was for the UFC featherweight championship, and Mendes got knocked out in the first round, not the result he was looking for in the biggest bout of his career.
Beating McKenzie ensures he won't slip down the ladder any further and should help him get on the right track toward another title fight. Due to the overall competitiveness of the divisions, any losing streak can be disastrous.
Mendes has showed off a lot of potential in his first four UFC fights. He features terrific versatility with the ability to adapt to any style. That's what it takes to become a champion because it's rare that you face the same type of opponent more than a few times in a row.
The 27-year-old American has also shown the ability to absorb some punishment. That's often just as important as anything else because it allows him to extended matches and eventually gain the upper hand when opponents wear down.
Tonight's victory was another example of why he's got such a bright future. He's definitely a name to keep in mind moving forward.
As for McKenzie, the result has to get taken with a grain of salt. It was his first fight since dropping to featherweight and making the transition always makes things more difficult. A tough opponent like Mendes simply compounded his problems.
He still has a 13-3 career record and should have no problem bouncing back if he can pick up a victory the next time out. The submission specialist will always be a dangerous foe because he can turn the course of an entire fight in the blink of an eye.
Now that he knows what it takes to compete at the highest levels of the division, he should start making progress over the next few fights before becoming a contender.
He isn't on Mendes' level quite yet, though. That said, it will be interesting to see where both fighters go from here because they each have a bright future ahead.
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