UFC fighter Cody McKenzie steps into the cage at UFC 148 against Chad Mendes, expecting a tough fight from a strong wrestler.
Since joining the UFC in 2010, McKenzie is 2-2, either winning or losing his fights via submission. He tapped Aaron Wilkinson and Marcus LeVesseur via the patented McKenzie-tine choke, but lost by rear-naked choke to Yves Edwards and Vagner Rocha.
Besides training with Nick and Nate Diaz in Northern California, McKenzie also headed back to Spokane, Washington, working with Lyle “Fancy Pants” Beerbohm.
Now representing BJJ Spokane, Beerbohm works with a tough group of lightweights, including UFC newcomers Sam Sicilia and The Ultimate Fighter Live tournament winner, Michael Chiesa. McKenzie also benefited when pro lightweight Mike Hanks also returned to Spokane to resume his full time MMA career aspiration.
Speaking with MMAJunkie, McKenzie discussed some of the aspects of training camp that he focused on to help prepare for the Team Alpha Male fighter:
(For) this fight I did a lot of grappling because I know Mendes will want to get it to the ground. This fight the game plan is pretty obvious. We've all seen want Mendes likes to do, and we've all seen how I fight. I come right at you, and he likes to kind of pin guys. I always grab that neck, especially with all the wrestlers in the sport trying to come in and hold me down and pin me.”
Trying to latch on the guillotine choke will be extremely difficult against Mendes, but a brief mental lapse may lead to an opportunity McKenzie will gladly pounce on. In addition, McKenzie is a scrappy fighter and will try to take it to Mendes wherever the fight ends up, including if it's a ground battle.
After McKenzie decided he wanted to drop from lightweight to featherweight, he wanted a tough fight. Here is how Mendes believes it unfolded (via MMAFighting.com):
I was anxious to get back in there and I think that the UFC was having some difficulty in finding someone, just due to injury and I think matchups were already taken. So I think Cody actually called the UFC, that's what I heard, and said he's going down to 145 and wants a tough fight.
So they were, "Mendes is the only one available, but haven't you guys trained together?" And he said, "Its a business, send me a contract." So, you know, it's him calling me out, and it’s a business, so I'm going to get in there and try to whoop that ass.
Mendes will want to keep this fight on the mat, with the Team Alpha Male fighter on top, and avoid leaving his neck out for McKenzie to latch on to. If all goes according to plan, Mendes will look to grind McKenzie down through three rounds of the fight.
Mendes vs. McKenzie will be on the main card of UFC 148 on Saturday night and will feature occasional training partners squaring off.