Chad Mendes vs. Jose Aldo 2: Early Head-to-Toe Breakdown
Jose Aldo and Chad Mendes will have their rematch. Lance Pugmire of the LA Times first reported that the top two featherweights in the world would meet at the Staples Center August 2 at UFC 176 earlier this month.
Their first meeting happened at UFC 142 in Brazil. Aldo retained his world championship with a brilliant turnaround knee knockout in the closing seconds of the first round.
Since that time, Mendes has reeled off five consecutive wins with four KO/TKO performances.
This is truly a matchup of the elites. They are without question the top two 145-pound fighters in the world today, and we will see how things shake out from LA this summer.
Here is your early look at how the rematch breaks down from head-to-toe.
Mendes has improved his striking greatly since their first meeting, thanks, in part, to Duane Ludwig's brief stop as head coach of Team Alpha Male.
His improved technique saw his power increase. He put away four opponents by KO/TKO since their first meeting, including a body-shot KO against Cody McKenzie.
Regardless, Aldo is the better striker.
Pound-for-pound, Aldo may be the best striker in MMA today. His leg kicks are brutal. They can alter a fight after the first couple. His hands are lightning quick. Aldo mixes up his strikes very well, and a fight can be ended at any point.
Mendes' improvements will assist him in the fight, but they by no means give him the edge against Aldo.
At 88.90 percent, according to official UFC stats provider FightMetric, Aldo possesses the seventh-most efficient takedown defense in the UFC.
He will need to defend against Mendes in August.
In their first meeting, Mendes nearly put him to the canvas, however, Aldo got away with grabbing the fence to stay upright. It is hard to say just how much that altered the fight, but it is clear that Mendes very well could have won the first round and survived into the second if Aldo had been taken down.
Mendes proved his ability to get Aldo down in their last fight; he just has to do it away from the cage. At the very least, he has to hope the referee deducts a point for the infraction.
The Team Alpha Male product may very well need to wrestle his way to the championship.
The submission game may be the most difficult to break down.
In the case of position before submission, Mendes would most likely have the edge. His wrestling ability should give him a more advantageous position to find a submission. On the other hand, Aldo is certainly capable of finishing from the bottom.
The Nova Uniao product is a fantastic submission stylist, but he chooses to stand and strike. He only has two submission finishes in his MMA career.
Many times, I'll favor the fighter who will have better position, especially when Mendes has fantastic top control. In this instance, however, I'll side with the more technically savvy Aldo. His experience on the ground will be the difference on the canvas.
Aldo's X-Factor: Cardio
Following Aldo's UFC debut, his cardio was called into question, but in recent fights, that has not looked like an issue. He looked fantastic in a five-round bout against Frankie Edgar, and he dominated Ricardo Lamas.
Why is this an X-factor? Because Mendes' grappling will tax him much more than those previous outings.
Aldo got to dictate the pace against Edgar and Lamas. He also got to keep the fight on the feet for the majority of the bout. If Mendes turns this into a grappling bout, it will be much more taxing on the fighters than previous fights.
Will Aldo fade over five rounds of grappling? Mendes would very much like that to be the case.
Mendes X-Factor: Cage Control
When Mendes attempted to take Aldo down in their first fight, it was close enough to the cage that it allowed Aldo to cheat by grabbing the fence. If Aldo is able to get away with that in the rematch, then Mendes needs better cage control to finish his takedowns.
Also, Mendes needs to take away Aldo's distance. He should smother the champion with pressure; cut off the cage, and do not give him any space.
Mendes must be the one to control the cage in the fight.
This will be one of the year's most intriguing main events. There are lot of questions entering the fight due to how much Mendes has progressed and how the first fight went down.
I still favor Aldo in the fight.
He is among the best fighters in the world today pound-for-pound. His striking is electric, his grappling is top notch, and he is a finisher.
I believe there will be a more cautious start to the action, allowing this fight to go into the second round, but I have a gut feeling that Aldo will catch Mendes in the second frame. It will not be the flash knee we saw at UFC 142, but it will be something that puts Mendes down.
The champion will remain at the top of a division he has owned since 2009.
Prediction: Aldo defeats Mendes by TKO in the second round