This is some of my work over on Gals Guide to MMA. Join us over there for more of this series and other great pieces!
It is fight week again! Well, that statement doesn't have much meaning anymore. EVERY week is fight week lately. And you know what? I'm okay with that. Fight week means two things for me. The first thing is that I usually pace aimlessly around, giddy as a schoolgirl, waiting for Saturday night. The second thing is that it is time for a little bit of Know Your Fighter!
UFC 142 features the main attraction of Jose Aldo defending his featherweight belt against Chad Mendes. Aldo has become a phenom of sorts in the sport, having only lost one bout in six years. He is 10-0 under the Zuffa banner while only going to decision three times. However, Aldo has shown to be most vulnerable (to his credit, it isn't that glaring of a weakness yet) off his back and defending against takedowns and wall-and-stall.
Chad Mendes has the tools to do all of that. Mendes is the antithesis of a fighter like Jose Aldo, with seven victories out of his 11-0 record going the distance. That's not to say there isn't excitement in his fights, as Mendes has showed steady improvement in becoming the prototypical Team Alpha Male fighter. Here is a little taste of what you could probably catch during grappling practice at Team Alpha Male!
As the video might suggest, Chad Mendes could very well be the best wrestler in the Alpha Male camp. At Cal Poly (alma mater of Chuck Liddell and Antonio Banuelos), Mendes finished his career with a stellar 64-14 record. He would earn All-American honors in 2006 at 125 lbs., while finishing sixth in the nation. Afterwards, he would make the transition to 141 lbs. To get a taste of his stylings on the mat, have a look at some of his work:
Here, we see Chad using his quickness to avoid Manuel Rivera's takedown attempts. Chad also demonstrates some strength from the tie-up, which ultimately leads to the fall. Mendes has Rivera in a nasty headlock, but he works a wrestling move known as the "cement mixer" (which looks akin to the gator roll in BJJ) to work to the pin. The referee counts the pin and we can add another "W" on the mat for a young Chad Mendes.
In his senior year, Chad would go 30-0 on the wrestling mat during the regular season for the Mustangs. He would ride that momentum all the way to become Pac-10 "Wrestler of the Year" and got to the NCAA finals. He would take on Ohio State's J Jaggers for the title of 141 lbs. champion.
Join us after the jump for more in the career of Chad "Money" Mendes!
The first period of the bout provides us with a stalemate. The men cancel each other out in the tie-up and sprawl out on the one significant takedown attempt that each make. The opening seconds of the second see Mendes starting off with the back ride and Jaggers earning a point off the escape, although Mendes was able to put Jaggers on the mat off of a trip. Mendes almost scored a takedown towards the end of the round, but Jaggers was able to tilt himself to his side enough that the official did not count it. The third peroid brings us the most action-filled frame of the match, as Jaggers opens up with the back ride. Mendes has a lot of trouble shaking him, but manages to get him off after a struggle to tie the bout up at 1-1. Jaggers then is able to hit a switch into a near fall for two, followed up by finishing it with securing his back for another two. Mendes shows some early leg lock submissions as he tweaks Jaggers' ankle. This is not enough though, as Jaggers comes back and shucks Mendes' attempts to take the match.
Coming out of collegiate wrestling, Mendes enrolled at Team Alpha Male. He would go 3-0 in his first trilogy of bouts, with wins by decision, TKO, and rear-naked choke. In his first bout in Tachi Palace Fights, Mendes would take on future TUF 14 alumni, Steven Siler:
Apart from a really unfortunate nickname, you can see the budding superstar that we see in the UFC today here. Mendes drops Siler with a nasty overhand right and follows him up to the guard. Siler attempts an armbar, which Mendes takes as an opportunity to use his wrestling and reverse it to a back ride. Siler turns into Mendes' guard, but the fight is taken back to the feet. After some knees in to the breadbasket in the Thai clinch, Mendes uncorks that nasty overhand right and follows it with a left hook. The ref decides that it is time for Irene to sleep and calls the bout.
Mendes has honed his tools drastically since this bout. After one more fight in Tachi Palace Fights, the WEC came calling. Mendes would run rampant on the featherweight division, taking out Eric Koch by decision,Anthony Morrison by the trademark Alpha Male guillotine, and going to decision victories against Cub Swanson and Javier Vasquez. After two decision victories over Michihiro Omigawa and Rani Yahya in the UFC, Mendes now has his shot at Jose Aldo.
With his toolbox become more full after each fight, Mendes may prove to be Aldo's toughest challenge yet. He has capable standup fueled by the absurd wrestling power in his hands. Combined with the sleek submission grappling and wrestling of Team Alpha Male, solid ground and pound, and the ability to fuse innovation with athleticism, we could see Chad Mendes taking the belt away from a Brazilian in Brazil.