Jose Aldo (20-1) vs. Chad Mendes (11-0)
UFC featherweight champion Jose Aldo will make his third defense of his UFC title when he takes on the undefeated Chad Mendes.
Mendes is a former NCAA Division I wrestler and is unquestionably the best wrestler in the division. It has led him to obtaining standout wins over Javier Vazquez, Rani Yahya, Erik Koch and Michihiro Omigawa.
Aldo will come into the fight off his unanimous decision victories over Kenny Florian and Mark Hominick. Many have been calling for the Brazilian to move up to the 155-pound weight class, and it's most likely to come after this fight, win or lose.
This will be Aldo's fight early on, but it's a question of whether or not he will go for the finish or be conservative in not expending all of his energy in fear of not having anything left in the championship rounds. It has looked that way in both of his previous UFC bouts.
With Mendes' last four fights going the distance, fans got a good sense of where the two-time All-American collegiate wrestler's strength lies. If he is able to get Aldo down at least once in each round, he could be good enough to keep it there for however long he wants.
With most of his fights having gone the distance, Mendes won't get frustrated either if he doesn't get Aldo down in the first or second round.
Although Aldo has shown considerable takedown defense in past fights, it's going to be in the later rounds that Mendes gets him down and tries to win the fight, even if he isn't doing much damage.
The first two rounds should be very competitive, with Aldo damaging his opponent with leg kicks and looking to take some of the steam out of his takedowns. Also keep in mind that the leg kicks will give Mendes an opportunity to get the takedown. Aldo may abandon them completely and just look to knock him out with his hands instead.
Mendes will have his moments, but Aldo's energy early on should be enough to do more damage and win the first and second rounds.
It will have its affect on Mendes, but it's going to take a lot out of the gas tank of Aldo for the later rounds as Mendes works for takedowns. This is where Mendes will take over, but he will have to start in the third round to guarantee himself a win.
The third round will be the deciding round of the fight if it goes the distance.
Chad Mendes wins by Unanimous Decision (48-47 x3).