UFC 179 preview: Jose Aldo v Chad Mendes
UFC 179 takes place in Brazil this Saturday night and it must be said, it is a rather weak fight card aside from the incredibly exciting match-up between featherweight champion Jose Aldo (24-1) and #1 contender Chad Mendes (16-1).
The pair have already met once in the Octagon with Aldo knocking out Mendes via a knee to the face. The result was highly controversial at the time as Mendes had been dominant in the fight up to that moment and had been about to take down champion Aldo, who grabbed a hold of the fence to prevent himself falling.
It is of course illegal to hold onto the fence but it went unpunished and Aldo maintained his balance and immediately ended the fight with a vicious knee to the face. While Mendes had fought well up to that moment, many people thought that Aldo would have gone on to win the fight anyway due to him being an all-round better fighter.
The pair face off for the second time this weekend, but will the result be any different? The Jose Aldo of 2014 is a lot more beatable than the Jose Aldo of 2010-2012, added to this is the improvement of Chad Mendes.
Here is our breakdown of how we think the fight will go…
Just a couple of years ago there would be absolutely no doubt over who had the edge in this area. Aldo was by far the better striker with knockout power in his hands, feet and his knees. Mendes was very much wrestling orientated and was very limited in the striking stakes unless it involved a mount and a ground and pound.
Two years on and the scenery has changed somewhat, Aldo still has all his original tools but Mendes has had an upgrade on his arsenal and now has the ability to pose serious problems for his opponents in the striking stakes. His hard work on his boxing and leg kicks has made him a more rounded fighter, if not quite the same level as Aldo.
Video via Lyotodossantos.
While the playing field has levelled off slightly in this respect, Aldo still has a clear advantage in this area. His striking is next generation with vicious leg kicks and one-punch knockout power.
This is an area where Mendes should have the upper hand given his wrestling background. But as Aldo has shown throughout his career, it is one thing to take him down (he has defended successfully against 91% of takedown attempts against him), it is an even tougher prospect to try and keep him down. Aldo has a superb scrambling game and is great at returning to his feel quickly when knocked.
Mendes will take heart from the fact that he would have taken Aldo down in their original fight if not for an illegal grab of the fence. The American will see this an area where he can gain some dominance and gain a foothold on the fight.
Neither of these fighters are renowned for their finishing by submission and in fact, between the two fighters they have finished just 4 of their 42 fights via submission.
Chad Mendes is quite the wrestler and is more likely to score a takedown and advance his position but he rarely looks to finish the fights by submission. He will try an old school Tito Ortiz ground ‘n pound before attempting an armbar or the like.
Aldo on the other hand has a very underrated jiu-jitsu game and is very comfortable defending from his back. He has never really implemented his ground game in the Octagon due to his amazing striking ability and his takedown defence.
Don’t let this fool you into thinking he is unskilled on the ground, he won’t look for submissions but he has a clear advantage in that area if he decides to.
This promises to be a tighter fight than the last time the two fought but we don’t expect it to go the distance. Mendes will be a lot better than the last time they fought but we think that Aldo has just too much in the tank for the American.
Aldo will want to finish the fight earlier rather than go the distance where he has historically tired towards the end of his bouts. He will work his vicious leg kicks to slow Mendes down and slowly pick him off. His striking is just that much ahead of the American that he should win via stoppage or KO.
We think that Aldo will TKO Mendes early in the fourth round or maybe even the end of the third round.