Remember back in the WWF how there would be those matches that basically amounted to Razor Ramon vs. "This Guy We Found Outside K-Mart"? For whatever reason, that has basically been the direction the UFC has been taking its featherweight division in.
For the first time ever, Zuffa has a very strong 145 lbs division on its hands.
It has a great champion in Jose Aldo. A strong top contender in Frankie Edgar. Then several top fighters behind Edgar, including Chan Sung Jung, Cub Swanson, Erik Koch, Hatsu Hioki and Clay Guida.
With that in mind, fans have to ask; what the hell is Joe Silva thinking right now?
In the last few months, we have seen some of the most absurd mismatches in UFC history pop up in the featherweight division. Dennis Siver vs. Nam Phan. Charles Oliveira vs. Eric Wisely. Raphael Assuncao vs. Issei Tamura.
Chad Mendes will be fighting Yaotzin Meza.
If you just said “who?” in reaction to reading “Yaotzin Meza,” I can't blame you. Meza is going to be making his UFC debut against Mendes. He has been primarily fighting in smaller southwestern promotions and has amassed a 19-7 record.
He is 7-1 in his last eight, but has not fought anyone especially noteworthy. He trains with The MMA Lab, home to Benson Henderson, Alex Caceres and Jamie Varner.
Chad Mendes, meanwhile, is unanimously ranked in the top 10 of the featherweight division. He is widely held in the top five.
He is 7-1 in the UFC and WEC and 12-1 in his MMA career (his lone loss coming against Jose Aldo). His most recent win came against Cody McKenzie in the form of a 30-second knockout. Suffice it to say that Chad Mendes is very good.
In fairness, Meza was not Mendes' original opponent.
Mendes was originally slated to fight Hacran Dias. Dias is a solid up-and-comer, for sure, but he made his UFC debut at UFC 147 by beating Yuri Alcantara. Mendes vs. Dias was a questionable matchup. Dias, after all, is the sort of prospect a promotion should nurture, not throw to a fighter like Mendes.
With the way the featherweight promotion is right now, there are several incredibly compelling bouts that could have been made.
Chan Sung Jung is currently sitting without an opponent. A Jung vs. Mendes fight would be a downright great main event for a Fuel or FX card, and would be between two top fighters in a division that has its top contender status up in the air.
Darren Elkins, who is riding a four-fight winning streak over some very strong competition, is also twiddling his thumbs as you read this. Robbie Peralta, who is 3-0 (1) between the UFC and Strikeforce, is waiting for a call from Joe Silva. Dennis Siver, who once again fought Nam Phan after beating Diego Nunes, fought six days earlier.
I could keep going on about how many actual, fair, logical matchups were passed on in favor of this. But here we are. Chad Mendes is going to fight against Yaotzin Meza.
Obviously, Yaotzin Meza could shock us. This is MMA. Crazy things can happen and Meza could knock Mendes out, make me look the fool and jump into the top ten in a split-second. That, though, is probably not going to happen, and I sincerely doubt the UFC is expecting anything close to this to happen.
Perhaps, and this is a reach and I know it, we might be looking at Jose Aldo officially jumping to the lightweight division after his fight with Frankie Edgar. With this in mind, the UFC might be looking to guarantee a title fight with Chad Mendes. Even then, this makes very little sense, with Clay Guida, Frankie Edgar, Chan Sung Jung and possibly Cub Swanson carrying more name value than him.
So yeah. Why is this fight happening? I have no idea.
It is, though, and that's just ridiculous.