Here's my final section of UFC 142 : Aldo vs. Mendes for this weekend. I've written previews for the entire card and said my picks. What are your picks, what do you expect to happen? The links to the previous sections: the prelims, and part one of the main card.
Here's the final section: Enjoy and tell me what you guys are predicting!
Co Main Event
Middleweight bout: Vitor Belfort vs. Anthony Johnson
Current Betting Odds: -120 Belfort, +100 Johnson
Background: Belfort is 20-9 and Johnson is 10-3
Vitor Belfort - 34 years old - 6'0" - Reach: 74" (Ranked 5th Middleweight)
-Belfort was born in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and made his professional MMA debut in 1996. Belfort is among the best known UFC fighters because of the length of his career, and his (mostly) exciting fights with devastating knockouts that sometimes end in an instant. Out of 20 career wins, he has 14 (T)KO's and 2 submissions for a finishing ratio of 80%. He owes those KO wins to his great boxing (everyone knows that). He has some of the best hands in the UFC, and can knock out just about anyone. Some forget he is alos a black belt in BJJ, with his lone submission loss coming to Alistair Overeem via guillotine choke. He is a former UFC Heavyweight Tourney winner, a former UFC Light Heavyweight Champion, and Cage Rage Light Heavyweight Champion and Bronze Medal winner at the ADCC 2001 grappling tournament and a two time Knockout of the Night winner. He is 9-5 in the UFC.
-Belfort has been in the cage/ring with some of the biggest names in MMAs short history, with wins over Tank Abbot, Randy Couture, Wanderlei Silva, Rich Franklin, Yoshihiro Akiyama, and Matt Lindland. He also has high profile losses to Randy Couture (2x), Alistair Overeem (2x), Chuck Liddell, Tito Ortiz, Kazushi Sakuraba, Dan Henderson, and Anderson Silva. Every single fighter who has a win over Belfort is a champion, former champion or in the case of Sakuraba; a living legend. If you don't know who Sakuraba is, do yourself a favor and look him up.
-Last year, at UFC 125 Vitor was the recipient of one of the most surprising and devastating KO's in the UFC's history, the front kick from Anderson Silva, we've all seen it. He then rebounded with a KO win over Japanese fighter Yoshihiro Akiyama at UFC 133. He wants another shot at Silva for the middleweight title, and defeating Johnson is a good step in the right direction. He is 6-1 in his last 7 fights.
Vitor Belfort Highlights - The Phenom 2011 Tribute (via ThiagoSilva187)
Anthony Johnson - 27 years old - 6'2" - Reach: 78" (Ranked 10th - Welterweight)
-Johnson was born in Dublin, Georgia and made if pro MMA debut in 2006. He has been fighting in the UFC since 2007 and is 6-3 in the promotion. Johnson is one of the best pure athletes in the UFC, even without the highest level grappling credentials, he is a high school All State wrestler, and a 2004 Junior College Championship winner, but enjoys to use his kickboxing to win his fights. He has a finish ratio of 70%, with 7 KO/TKO'sand 3 decisions. He has two KO of the Night awards, (both via head kick) and one Fight of the Night award in a losing effort to division stand out Josh Koscheck.
-With his biggest wins being over Dan Hardy, Charlie Brenneman and Yoshiyuki Yoshida, he hasn't faced nearly the same level of competition as Vitor Belfort, but that doesn't mean he's not ready to step up to a former title holder. Johnson has had well known issues with making the 170lbs welterweight limit, and this will be his middleweight debut, and he claims that he'll have less issues with cardio and it is going to be his proper weight class. Even though Belfort started his career as a heavyweight, it wouldn't surprise me to see Johnson being the bigger fighter in the cage on fight night.
-Johnson is 5-2 in his last 7 fights, however his loss to Kevin Burns has controversies because he was defeated by TKO when he couldn't see after repeated eye pokes by Burns. His other loss is a submission defeat by rear naked choke at UFC 106. Since then he defeated Dan Hardy by decision, in which many fans and media criticized him for wrestling Hardy to a decision rather than standing with the dangerous kick boxer. He most recently fought Charlie Brenneman and "KO'd" him via head kick at UFC Live: Cruz vs. Johnson.
Anthony "Rumble Johnson" Highlights (via BladeCaC)
My Pick: This is a pretty big step up in competition for "Rumble" and it's going to be a stiff test for him at middleweight. Belfort has a history of breaking mentally when someone presses him at the start of a fight, and he either looks like a devastating monster or a second rate fighter afraid to pull the trigger. Last year when facing Hardy, Johnson used his wrestling to avoid the stand up of the better kick boxer, and it's possible, regardless of his bravado in recent interviews, that he may want to avoid the fast hands of Vitor. Lets not kid ourselves, Johnson isn't Anderson Silva and he isn't fast or smooth enough to catch Vitor the same way. If Johnson presses the action, shows he isn't afraid of Vitor and mixes up takedowns with dirty boxing and ground and pound he will likely break Belfort mentally and get a TKO win or decision. However, if he tries to stand with Belfort, he's going to get caught, I don't care if Johnson's never been KO'd, Vitor can finish anyone at middleweight with punches. I'm giving the edge to Belfort, via TKO in the first round.
Featherweight Bout: Jose Aldo vs. Chad Mendes (UFC Featherweight Title)
Current Betting Odds: -240 Aldo, +200 Mendes
Background: Aldo is 20-1 and Mendes is 11-0
Jose Aldo - 25 years old - 5'7" - Reach: 70" (Ranked #1 Featherweight)
-Aldo was born in Manaus, Brazil and made his pro debut in 2004. He cut his teeth in the WEC the lighter weight classes were brought into the UFC last year, being completely dominate in his destruction of opponents. He has a good finishing ratio at 70% with 14 KO/TKO's and 2 submissions. He's had difficulty finishing his opponents as of late with 2 decision wins after knocking out UFC vet Manny Gamburyan at WEC 51. He had 3 KO of the Night awards from his WEC days, and one Fight of the Night award with his title defense against Mark Hominick at UFC 129. He was the final WEC Featherweight Champion, the current UFC Featherweight Champion, a black belt in BJJ, the Sherdog 2009 Fighter of the year and World MMA Awards 2010 Fighter of the year.
-Aldo has fought some of the best Featherweights in the world, with wins over Urijah Faber, Kenny Florian, Mike Brown, and Cub Swanson and Mark Hominick. His lone loss is to Luciano Azevedo in his only lightweight bout, back in 2005. He has been talking about moving up to lightweight full time due to the difficulty in making the 145lbs limit, but won't do so in the near future. At 25 years old, his body is still maturing so I'm expecting him to be at lightweight within a couple years.
Jose Aldo MMA Highlight (via JamesBlair7)
Chad Mendes - 26 years old - 5'6" - Reach: 66" (Ranked #2 Featherweight)
-Mendes was born in Hanford, California and made his pro debut in 2008. He is a wrestling stand out as a NCAA Div 1 Runner up in 2008 and was also an multi-time All American. He made his WEC debut in 2010 and went 4-0 in the organization before it was brought over to the UFC. He's a bit of a decision machine, with 7 decision wins to only 2 TKO wins and 2 submission wins for a finishing ratio of just 36%. His biggest wins are over Erik Koch and Michihiro Omigawa, and Cub Swanson, all by decision.
-Mendes uses his wrestling to control his opponents in very way, grinding out wins with methodical ground and pound and searching for submissions on occasion to keep the fight on the ground and avoid stand ups by the referee. He has made claims that Aldo has fought a wrestler like him before, and intends to use his cardio and wrestling to keep it in his world. His best chance to win any fight is to use grappling, so we know exactly what he plans to do this Saturday night.
Chad Mendes Highlight Video 2011 (via jfmize79)
My Pick: Chad Mendes has one chance in this fight: keep it on the ground and avoid the stand up of Aldo. However, Aldo is a Brazilian JiuJitsu black belt, and isn't a slouch off his back, so there is a danger of him being submitted if he gets careless. This fight as the potential to be very exciting, but at the same time I'm not all that interested because of Mendes involvement. He deserves his shot as much as the next fighter, and I understand why he's fighting in the main event. I hope however that if he wins, it will be because of a finish, not because he grinded through 25 minutes of grappling. I appreciate the style: it wins fights. But it doesn't win fans. Aldo has fought good wrestlers before, namely Mendes stable mate, Urijah Faber. Faber was unable to keep the fight on the ground or ever really get it to the ground against Aldo, and Faber is an excellent wrestler himself. In addition, Faber has very good standup in comparison to Mendes, but he wasn't able to do anything against Aldo during their fight at WEC 48. I'm fully expecting more of that: Aldo stopping the takedown, kick and punching the hell out of the shorter in height and shorter in reach Mendes. Mendes will get tagged at least once, and it remains to be seen how he's going to react when that happens to him. Aldo by TKO or by decision.