Featherweights Chad Mendes (15-1 MMA, 6-1 UFC) and Nik Lentz (24-5-2, 1 NC MMA; 8-3-1, 1 NC UFC) square off in a key main card fight at UFC on Fox 9 this evening. It's been nearly two years since Mendes unsuccessfully tried to capture the UFC featherweight belt from Jose Aldo, but he's been on an absolute tear since then. Lest we forget Lentz's drop to 145 lbs has been extremely beneficial to him, and he's yet to lose in the weight class.
Mendes is a big favorite in this one, and for good reason. The Team Alpha Male product has showcased terrific and powerful striking under the coaching of Duane Ludwig. Lentz is known as a "grinder" with a tremendous chin, and he's yet to be KO'd in his MMA career. The UFC on Fox 9 main card commences at 8 PM ET/5 PM PT on ... well ... the Fox network.
How do these two stack up?
Mendes: 28 years old | 5'6" | 66" reach
Lentz: 29 years old | 5'8" | 68" reach
What have these two done recently?
How did these two get here?
One of the criticisms of Mendes' game prior to and after his KO loss to Jose Aldo was his lack of finishing ability. Before the Aldo fight he had finished just 1 fight (by submission) out of 7 combined in the WEC and UFC. Since then he's been a walking highlight reel. While stopping the likes of Yaotzin Meza and Cody McKenzie really aren't noteworthy, he stopped Darren Elkins in just over a minute and became the first man to finish Clay Guida with strikes via a 3rd round TKO. He's already established himself as the best wrestler in the division, and combine that with his improved striking skills and another title shot is on the horizon for "Money" Mendes.
Lentz didn't exactly gain any fans when he first entered the UFC. His 4th fight with the promotion was a dreadful, dour decision win over Andre Winner that resulted in him not having any of his ensuing bouts televised live until this year. After consecutive losses to Mark Bocek and Evan Dunham, "The Carnie" dropped to featherweight, where he impressively TKO'd Eiji Mitsuoka before going to Brazil twice to first beat Diego Nunes and then Hacran Dias in one-sided fashion. Yes, Lentz's "grinding" reputation is earned, but he is capable of putting on exciting fights when matched up with the right type of fighter, and while he is highly unlikely to win tonight, his occasional willingness to brawl combined with his great chin should result in a good scrap.
Why should you care?
Plenty of reasons to watch this one, most notably whether or not Mendes can continue his impressive string of finishes, but also to see if Lentz is indeed more than just a bottom top 10 featherweight.