It was all but assured that Chad Mendes would get his rematch with UFC featherweight champion Jose Aldo the moment Cub Swanson was booked for a fight with Jeremy Stephens in June. They were the only two fighters in the running for a title shot, and tonight the UFC finalized Aldo vs. Mendes II for the Staples Center in Los Angeles:
Aldo (24-1) has successfully defended his belt (dating back to the WEC) 8 times, including a unanimous decision win over Ricardo Lamas in February. The champ's first fight with Mendes (at UFC 142 in January 2012) ended with a 1st round KO with one perfectly timed knee. Aldo memorably ran out of the cage and celebrated with a raucous Brazilian crowd. There was a touch of controversy prior to the KO, as Aldo clearly and flagrantly grabbed the fence to stop a Mendes takedown, but no point deduction was given.
That loss for Mendes (16-1) remains the only one of his career, and after several decision wins leading up to his first title fight, "Money" racked up the knockout wins after the Aldo bout. He finished Cody McKenzie and Yaotzin Meza with expected ease, and then finished Darren Elkins in 69 seconds before becoming the first man to finish Clay Guida with strikes. While Mendes didn't get the stoppage over Nik Lentz, instead taking a decision win, he was a clear winner and won without much trouble despite coming into the fight with the flu.
This is the UFC's first PPV in Los Angeles since UFC 104 in October 2009, which saw Lyoto Machida controversially defeat Mauricio Rua in the night's main event. Tickets for UFC 176 go on sale June 13th, so expect most, if not the whole card to be announced over the next few weeks.