Mendes' matchup with Cody McKenzie, which served as McKenzie's first foray into the 145 lb. division, showed off "Money's" improving stand up and incredible power.
As McKenzie threw a lazy kick, Mendes countered with a vicious punch to the solar plexus which dropped and ultimately finished his lanky foe just :31 into Round One.
For Mendes, the win was impressive, and it stirred up questions about his title legitimacy and the chances of him getting a second crack at Jose Aldo's featherweight strap.
Are these questions justified?
Chad Mendes is the second best fighter at 145 lbs., despite having names like Eric Koch ahead of him in the pecking order.
"Money" trains with one of the best featherweights of all time in Urijah Faber, and he is constantly evolving as a mixed martial artist.
He showed off improving power in his hands against McKenzie, and this, coupled with his always phenomenal wrestling and top control, makes him a legitimate threat at 145 lbs.
Can he beat Jose Aldo, though?
Honestly, it's unclear. He can, as much as anybody can beat anybody, but Aldo remains on a different level than other featherweights. We have not seen the champion in any real adversity inside the Octagon, and it's unclear that Mendes can be the guy to take it to him.
That said, Mendes is absolutely a top five featherweight, and he deserves a much higher level of competition than a scraggly dude with one good technique in his arsenal. Cody McKenzie has a good personality. His professionalism is good for the sport, but he is not even a top 10 fighter in any division in the UFC.
Chad Mendes deserves better, and with names like Dennis Siver and Hatsu Hioki in the featherweight division, a top five fighter can certainly do better than Cody McKenzie.
Mendes will get a top-notch opponent in his next outing, he will defeat him and he will get another shot at Jose Aldo's belt—and he will have earned it.
He's put in the time, now it's time for him to earn championship-level "money."
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