Since losing to Jose Aldo at UFC 142 over two years ago, Chad Mendes has dramatically improved his mixed martial arts (MMA) game.
The striking department, however, seems to be the area that has received the most attention in the training room, as Mendes -- with the help of Duane Ludwig -- has evolved into dangerous stand-up fighter, shedding the "pure wrestler" label.
Of his five straight victories since UFC 142, Mendes has been on the "Money," winning four of those bouts via knockout/technical knockout.
But according to the aforementioned Aldo, he sees no improvement in Chad, saying that he hasn't faced good enough strikers during his win streak to prove that his stand-up game has evolved.
"I see no difference in his game. He's still the same person with the same game. He's maybe more confident but there is nothing that I can see to tell: 'Oh, the guy has better striking now.' No. He has never had a bout with a good striker and fought three rounds against him. In the cage, we'll see who evolved more."
While Cody McKenzie, Yaotzin Meza, Clay Guida, and Nik Lentz aren't exactly the cream of the crop, rankings or striking-wise, you can't deny that Mendes' stand up is far superior than it was two or three years ago.
Maybe if "Money" can manage to clean "Junior's" clock when they rematch at UFC 179 on Oct. 25, 2014 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, he'll prove to the featherweight champ that his game is up to par.
And win the division title, as well.