Former UFC featherweight top contender Chad Mendes blasted his way through Darren Elkins in the final preliminary card bout from UFC on Fox 7 in San Jose Saturday, taking another step toward Jose Aldo and featherweight gold.
Here's what we learned from the fight.
What we'll remember about this fight
This fight should be remembered as the fight that earned Mendes his second shot at Jose Aldo. It also should serve as a clear reminder to the division that this wrestler has some vicious power in his hands.
What we learned about Chad Mendes
Honestly, we didn't learn much. Mendes has already displayed his strong wrestling base, his vicious striking power and his ability to defeat anyone the UFC pits against him.
Well, almost anyone.
Mendes' lone career loss came against featherweight champ Jose Aldo back in January 2012. The Team Alpha Male product is 3-0 since.
From his UFC on Fox 7 performance, we know he is better than the vast majority of the division. We also know he should fight for a title in his next bout. What we don't know is whether or not he has enough to top Aldo or Anthony Pettis—whoever should walk away with the title this August.
What we learned about Darren Elkins
Elkins took a big leap up in competition, and it didn't pay off.
According to the UFC rankings, Mendes is the best featherweight not named Jose Aldo. Elkins? Well, his name doesn't even crack the top 10. The only conclusion: Elkins was simply not ready for such a big fight.
But hope is not lost for the Indiana native. He is 5-1 in his last six fights and still has potential. Also, he was a late replacement for this fight, for what it's worth. We now know he should simply be fighting featherweights in the bottom half of the top 10, as opposed to the one sitting at the top of the contender mountain.
What's next for Mendes
Jose Aldo. Mendes has wrecked the last three men to stand against him in the cage, and he surely thinks he can put Aldo away. However, Aldo is currently set to face Pettis this August.
With Frankie Edgar vs. Charles Oliveira and Chan Sung Jung vs. Ricardo Lamas booked, the only sensible next step for Mendes is a fight against the winner of Aldo vs. Pettis.
What's next for Elkins
As stated before, hope is not lost for Elkins. He lost to one of the division's best and a win against a solid featherweight puts him back on track.
A bout against Clay Guida would be an interesting fight for Elkins, as would a match up with Erik Koch.