Record: 12-1 overall, 3-1 in the UFC
Key Losses: Jose Aldo (UFC 142)
How he got here: Chad Mendes has been wrestling for a very long time. He was a two time All-American collegiate wrestler before teaming up with Urijah Faber at his Alpha Male gym in Sacramento. Just 14 months into his professional fighting career, "Money" Mendes was 5-0 and had earned an invite to compete in the WEC featherweight division.
He made his debut against fellow prospect and current top contender Erik Koch, handing him the only professional loss of his career. He would fight three more times in 2010, defeating all opponents handily and progressing in his skill-set.
Mendes made his UFC debut against Japanese star Michihiro Omigawa last February and handled the veteran with ease, out striking and definitely outwrestling him to win a dominant unanimous decision. He would forgo a title shot and proceeded to put up a strong showing against submission specialist Rani Yahya seven months later to again be crowned the number one contender for Jose Aldo's belt.
Unfortunately for Mendes,he couldn't score a takedown and couldn't keep Aldo on the ground, eventually eating a brutal knee from the champ to end his undefeated streak. He took out his frustration on Cody McKenzie in his next bout, battering the former fisherman with a body punch TKO inside the first minute.
After his fight with Brazilian prospect Hacran Dias fell apart, he'll be taking on a late replacement UFC newbie this time around. .
How he gets it done: Mendes has some of the best wrestling in the division and some improving stand-up skills. This could be another opportunity for him to showcase his improvements on the feet. Meza is pretty much outclassed in all areas so expect to see Mendes work big punches both to the head and body.
The TKO of McKenzie was no fluke as Mendes has been steadily improving on the feet in each of his UFC bouts. Expect to see him continue to pour it on in the stand-up unless something goes wrong, then he's always got that fantastic wrestling ability to fall back on as a safety net.
Meza is talented, but he's not in Mendes' league so expect to see Mendes attempt to prove this on Friday night.
Record: 19-7 overall, 0-0 in the UFC
Key Wins: none
Key Losses: none
How he got here: Yaotzen Meza surprisingly lost the first three fights of his professional career. Instead of getting completely disheartened, he kept plugging away and found success with an eight fight winning streak. He teamed up with the MMA Lab eventually and really started to put it together, resulting in another six fight winning streak.
After having his streak snapped earlier this year, he bounced back with a unanimous decision victory this past October at Rage in the Cage and was quickly signed by the UFC. When Hacran Dias went down with an injury, he stepped up on short notice to take on a former UFC title challenger which was a big testament to his attitude towards competition. Any time, any place, anywhere.
How he gets it done: Meza has absolutely nothing to lose so he needs to go for broke here. He's pretty well rounded with a nice mix of decisions, submissions and knockouts scored throughout his six year career. While his "go-to" move on the ground is his guillotine choke, that would be a very poor idea against a fighter from Team Alpha Male which specializes in the hold.
Meza's best shot is to utilize his length, peppering away with jabs and hoping he gets lucky timing a knee if and when Mendes shoots in for a takedown. If Mendes wants to test his stand-up, Meza needs to really go for broke. Again, he's got nothing to lose so it's worth it to take extra risks because everyone but his own team and probably his mother is counting him out here.
Fight X-Factor: The biggest X-Factor to be completely honest is how seriously Mendes is taking his opponent. Meza is a veteran who's been fighting for over six years now and just because he hasn't fought in the UFC doesn't mean he's not talented. Meza trains alongside UFC champion Ben Henderson every day so he knows what it takes to be a mainstay in the promotion.
Mendes should be able to win, but if he is taking Meza lightly, anything can happen. That's why this sport is so fun to watch.
Bottom Line: This fight is probably only going to be one-sided. Mendes has a pretty significant advantage in all areas and especially on the ground with his wrestling and top control. If Meza gets anything going on the feet, he'll probably be put on his back and ground into the dirt. Mendes should take this any way he pleases, although if it's a one-sided shellacking, it could still have a highlight reel finish like Mendes' last fight against Cody McKenzie.
Who will come out on top at UFC on FX 6? Tell us your predictions in the comments below!