UFC 148 may have most of the attention on its main event and co-main event, but that doesn't mean there aren't other intriguing fights on the card. In fact, a featherweight bout between former lightweight Cody McKenzie and former title challenger Chad Mendes should be one of them.
If you saw the weigh-in, you would have noticed that Mendes and McKenzie had a very intense stare down. After some trash talk and some head-to-head contact, the face off was over, but the lasting image would be the give-no-ground staredown the two shared.
When Mendes and McKenzie enter the cage tonight, there will be several factors that play into the fight.
In terms of striking, both men cannot be considered elite. Mendes has come a long way from the early days when he looked like he didn't know what he was doing. He has power in his fists, but his ground striking is much better than his striking on the feet.
McKenzie is still pretty green on the feet. He would rather get into a submission war than throw hands, so the striking advantage has to go to Mendes.
In terms of wrestling and grappling, Mendes also has the advantage. He has the better takedowns, the heavier top game and all-around more skillful wrestling. While McKenzie has some slick jiu-jitsu, Mendes has stifled to jiu-jitsu guys such as Rani Yahya in the past.
McKenzie has one advantage in this match, which is submissions. His "McKenzitine" submission, a modified guillotine, has put away many opponents in his career, including UFC opponents Aaron Wilkinson and Marcus LeVesseur.
Mendes works with Team Alpha Male, whose signature submission is the guillotine. He will have this move well scouted, so I doubt it plays a factor tonight.
In the end, I see Mendes using his superior boxing to get a takedown. When he gets the fight to the ground, expect him to utilize ground-and-pound to try and earn a stoppage. This may open up a submission, which will ultimately get him the win.
Prediction: Chad Mendes def. Cody McKenzie via submission (rear naked choke)