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Chad Mendes Is the Correct Fighter to Challenge Jose Aldo at UFC 176

Chad Mendes will be doing backflips if he beats Jose Aldo at UFC 176 for the featherweight title.
Chad Mendes will be doing backflips if he beats Jose Aldo at UFC 176 for the featherweight title.Associated Press
Dana BeckerContributor IIMay 5, 2014

When it comes down to it, Chad Mendes was the right choice as the next challenger to Jose Aldo's UFC featherweight championship. Mendes will get his rematch with Aldo this summer at UFC 176, as Lance Pugmire of the Los Angeles Times reported Sunday.

A quick look at the official UFC rankings leaves a somewhat sour taste in the mouth. 

Frankie Edgar is sitting there, and as a former UFC champion, he has the resume to back his credibility. But he's locked in to face BJ Penn while the current season of The Ultimate Fighter airs. 

Ricardo Lamas is next, but he was given his shot earlier this year and came up empty. Cub Swanson could solidify his status with a win over Jeremy Stephens in a few months.

Dustin Poirier has a bout scheduled, Chan Sung Jung is injured, and Dennis Siver is suspended. Clay Guida, Nik Lentz and Stephens round out the rest of the rankings, but none of them are ready to face Scarface, either.

That leaves Mendes as the one to seek redemption.

Let's take a quick trip back in time to 2012. Coming off back-to-back decision victories in his first two UFC fights, Money was poised to remain unbeaten and take the strap from Aldo. He even ventured to Brazil, the native home of the champion, to challenge him.

Moments into the fight, Mendes seemed cool, calm and confident. The Team Alpha Male fighter and former NCAA wrestler shot in and had a good takedown attempt on Aldo. However, a quick grab of the cage kept Aldo from hitting the canvas.

In just a matter of seconds, Aldo landed a knee that floored Mendes, knocking him out with one second remaining in the first round and subsequently setting off a wild celebration. 

Mendes didn't sulk in his home or gym, taking a fight a few months later against Cody McKenzie. Thirty-one seconds after the bell sounded, Mendes had finished McKenzie with a body shot. He did the same to Yaotzin Meza in under two minutes to close out the year and added a third straight first-round victory when he stopped Darren Elkins to start 2013.

Last August, Mendes became the first fighter to score a knockout win over Guida when he finished the veteran in the third with a series of strikes. A decision win over Lentz to complete the year set him up for Aldo.

Having just turned 29 years old, Mendes remains in the prime of his career. He's getting better, improving his striking, wrestling and fundamentals each day. While Aldo is also doing the same, with his skills and talent, Mendes is the right man to challenge him for the gold belt right now. 

He still has several more months and a full training camp to go through, and by the time we reach August and the Staples Center in Los Angeles, we could be looking at the new UFC champion and man to end Team Alpha Male's long drought in title matches. 

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