Nik Lentz made his UFC debut on September 19, 2009. In that bout, Lentz earned a unanimous decision victory over Rafaello Oliveira. Since that win, Lentz has stepped into the Octagon 11 more times, putting together a career UFC record of 8-2-1-1. All 12 of those fights have been on the preliminary portion of UFC fight cards.
Saturday, Lentz will finally fight on a UFC main card. He'll get a tough test in that fight. Lentz's opponent at UFC on Fox 9 will be No. 1 ranked UFC Featherweight Chad Mendes. Mendes will enter the fight with a career record of 15-1. 11 of those fights have come in the WEC/UFC. Mendes sole defeat was on January 14 of last year when UFC featherweight champion Jose Aldo knocked him out with one second remaining in the first round.
To hear Lentz tell it, he will have more to offer Mendes than Aldo did on the night in Brazil at UFC 142. Speaking to Ariel Helwani, Lentz said:
I pose a lot more threats to him than Aldo did. Aldo is not a very good aggressive wrestler like I am. His stand up is more of a counter puncher, while I'm going to be in his face. I think I pose a lot more interesting and diverse challenges than Aldo did to him.
As those comments indicate, Lentz is very confident in his abilities. Prior to this fight, Lentz has usually been viewed as someone that was not very verbose. However, according to Lentz, that view of him is quite incorrect. In fact, he's always been a very confident fighter, it's just that for the first time in his career he is getting the opportunity to make that fact known:
Now there are cameras around. It's always been there. Everything has always been there. I've always been very confident. I've always known I'm going to win all my fights, and now you guys are watching.
I've always known this is where I should be. My record is good, and I've been killing it at 145-pounds, and this is where I belong. Just because there hasn't been cameras in my face, doesn't mean there shouldn't be.
I'm a very confident person. I know I train very hard. I train harder than anybody in the world. I'm very focused when it comes to my fights. People take that focus as me being quiet, but I'm not, I'm a very focused person.
That confidence will allow Lentz to walk to the Octagon in Sacramento feeling that he has the advantage over Mendes, who as a member of the Sacramento based Team Alpha Male will be practically fighting in his backyard. Lentz practically scoffed the idea of being in a hostile environment in Sacramento, claiming that no amount of pressure will compare to what he felt when he traveled to Brazil in January and March of this year for his last two fights:
It's nothing compared to Brazil. When I was going to the cage in Brazil, there was literally a group of 30 people screaming at me that I was going to die, so this is going to be a little different, but this is the USA, I'm home. Everything is in my favor here. He has a little more pressure here fighting in his hometown.
In the lead up to his first fight on a UFC main card, Lentz has made the most of the opportunities provided to him. On Saturday, we'll find out if he can move the needle even further with a win over the favored Mendes.
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