Some fights just need to happen. Fighters with opposing styles who find themselves on a convergent path in their career. The UFC 164 PPV continued with a strong offering from the Featherweight division as top ten fighters Clay Guida and Chad Mendes faced off on the main card. Mendes has already fought for a title, but at only 28 he's primed for a second run. Guida now at 31 has been in search of a title shot for years and dropped to featherweight when it became clear that the lightweight division was unlikely to yield one. Guida entered this fight on a questionable victory over Hatsu Hioki back in January to earn his top ten status. For Mendes he's been on a blitz since losing to Jose Aldo in January of 2012. He entered this fight on a 3 fight KO streak with wins over Cody McKenzie, Yaotzin Meza, and Darren Elkins. Guida represented the most solid test in his run back to a shot at the 145 lb belt.
This was a masterful performance, really unbelievably so. Mendes set the tone early with his power striking as Guida attempted to dart in and out of range. Perhaps in response to recent criticism Guida looked much more aggressive in his striking and popped Mendes with one or two hard shots early although they didn't appear to phase him. They traded takedown attempts, with Mendes stuffing Guida and getting a takedown of his own to ride out the round in back mount.
The first round appeared to really set the tone for the second. Mendes looked to keep the fight on the feet where he was landing hard shots at will as Guida came in. Guida for his part wanted to get the fight to the ground and looked for takedowns often, but could get nothing off Mendes' solid wrestling base. Mendes made him pay for missed attempts with a hard knee as Guida came up off the mat and a stuffed takedown that resulted in some good ground and pound.
In the third Mendes kept up his volly of hard strikes and really turned the pressure up on Guida. He backed Guida up against the cage and pot shotted away for the stoppage. The result: Chad Mendes def. Clay Guida by TKO (punches) at 0:30 of Round 3.
What was the high point?
Mendes' striking. For once it doesn't feel like hyperbole when Rogan and Goldie talk about a fighter revolutionizing their training camp. What Duane Ludwig has done to team Alpha Male is take a group of great athletes and turn them into scary strikers. It's a joy to watch the results of his training.
What was the low point?
None really. Guida tried for a better fight, with more offense, and got beat by the better fighter.
Where do they go from here?
Chad Mendes is becoming tough to deny for a second shot at the title. At this point he's putting together the kind of skill set to make himself a serious threat to Aldo. I don't know if he can get a title shot right now, and if he can't I'd suggest a fight with Rani Yahya just to keep him busy.
Guida is starting to find himself in an odd position. He has a wealth of experience but is only 31 years old. I'd recommend some serious time off if he wants to keep searching for that title shot, but if doesn't take it a fight with Mike Brown would be about right.
Watch it now, later, or never?
Watch it now. Mendes has become a can't miss fighter over the last year and this is a can't miss performance from him. He is dominating like few fighters, even at featherweight are able to and is worth watching every time out.
More from Bloody Elbow:
- UFC Fight Night: Teixeira vs. Bader fight card
- UFC 164 results recap: Al Iaquinta vs. Ryan Couture
- UFC 164: Pettis vs. Henderson results recaps
- UFC 164 results recap: Magnus Cedenblad vs. Jared Hamman
- Daily MMA 9/1: UFC 164 post-fight press conference, fighter interviews, Dana White's media scrum