Undefeated Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) featherweight Chad Mendes will have the unenviable task of stepping into the Octagon against one of the most dangerous strikers in mixed martial arts (MMA) -- 145-pound champion Jose Aldo.
Mendes will collide with "Scarface" in the UFC 142 main event on Jan. 14, 2012, in hostile territory at the HSBC Arena in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
The former NCAA Division-1 wrestler has undoubtedly earned his shot at the featherweight title, remaining unbeaten (11-0) in his young mixed martial arts (MMA) career, while relying heavily on his exceptional mat experience to control the pace of fights.
As a member of Team Alpha Male, Mendes has trained alongside UFC featherweight Urijah Faber, who can provide invaluable inside information to "Money," seeing as how "The California Kid" spent 25 minutes locked inside a cage with Aldo at World Extreme Cagefighting (WEC) 48, losing via unanimous decision.
In an attempt to brush up on his wrestling skills to contend with those of Mendes, Aldo enlisted the services of former number one contender, UFC lightweight Gray Maynard, another accomplished wrestling powerhouse.
Speaking at today's UFC 142 conference call, Mendes feels that his skills are more than enough to dethrone the featherweight champion, regardless of who Aldo has in his camp.
Check it out:
"I don't care who Jose trains with. I train with some of the best guys in the world. It's what I've done my entire life and I don't take a year off ever. You can work with the best wrestler in the world but his wrestling is not going to be anywhere near mine. Maynard doesn't know how good I am. He's just saying that because he's training with Aldo. I feel I'm prepared. My stand-up is gonna be good and my wrestling will be better. I'm in the best spot possible. I think Jose has all the pressure on his shoulders. He's the one fighting in his home crowd, he's the one with the belt. I feel my skills are enough to beat him and all the pressure is on him. I don't think any of the guys that fought him have the wrestling credentials or ability to get him to the ground and hold him there. We figured out his strengths and weaknesses. We've gone over situations and we've come up with something that's gonna be great for the 14th."
Unbeaten in his last 13 fights, Aldo has proven to be one of the top pound-for-pound fighters in the world, breezing through his opponents with relative ease, relying heavily on his laser-like striking.
However, Mark Hominick -- who is not known for great wrestling -- was able to take the Brazilian down at will in their co-main event bout at UFC 129 this past April, taking the 145-pound champion the distance. It's an eye-opening performance that Mendes surely picked up on and hopes to capitalize when they step into the Octagon next weekend.
Can Mendes go into the Brazilian's home turf and end the reign of Aldo atop the featherweight division using his impressive wrestling techniques? Or will "Scarface" continue his dominance with his striking in this classis striker vs. grappler match up?