Thursday October 23rd, 2014

Everything you need to know about this weekend's big fight.


And then there was one.

Brazil still has Carnival. It still has the sands of Copacabana and the girl from Ipanema. The Amazon still flows through the sultry rainforest. Christ the Redeemer still oversees Rio from the blessed peak of Corcovado.

And José Aldo is still champion.

He’s the lone remaining UFC belt holder, though, from the nation that gave birth to mixed martial arts, a nation that has celebrated a history of glorious reigns within the sport. But Anderson Silva’s seven-year spell over every other middleweight in the world went poof last year. Bantamweight Renan Barão and his 33-fight unbeaten run crumbled back in May. Countrymen such as heavyweight Junior dos Santos and light heavy Mauricio “Shogun” Rua also are former champions, with the emphasis on “former.”

You thought the bumbling performance by the Seleção in the Brazil-hosted World Cup was the end of the sad story?

When Aldo puts his featherweight belt on the line against Chad Mendes on Saturday night in Rio de Janeiro (10 p.m. ET, PPV), he will have all of Brazilian MMA riding on his shoulders. That might weigh him down, or it might well be uplifting, as Maracanazinho Gymnasium will be electric. Aldo (24-1), No. 2 in the pound-for-pound rankings, has won 17 fights in a row, the last eight being defenses of the WEC/UFC belt he took from Mike Brown a full five years ago.

One of those victories came against Mendes, who succumbed to an Aldo flying knee with just one second remaining in the first round of their clash in Rio in January 2012. That was the only career loss for the two-time NCAA All-America wrestler, who is 16-1 after rebounding from the title fight defeat with five straight wins, four by knockout. Mendes ranks No. 2 in the tally of 145-pounders.

In addition to the pay-per-view telecast of the five-fight main card, four prelims will be shown on Fox Sports 1, starting at 8 p.m. ET, and the card’s other two bouts will stream on the UFC Fight Pass digital subscription service (7 p.m.).


No less important than this being a rematch -- with each man bringing hard-won familiarity with the other to the cage -- is that this also is a rescheduling. The fight initially was slated for UFC 176, which was to be held Aug. 2 in Los Angeles. Aldo was injured in training, however, and the whole card ended up being canceled.

That was a blow to the UFC, of course, which for only the second time in Zuffa’s decade as the promotion’s parent company was deprived of an event’s significant PPV and ticket revenue. It was also a loss for Mendes, who was to fight in his native state but now must travel to the South American city where, much to the delight of a loud partisan crowd, he was knocked out by the champ.

Add to that the increased acrimony between Aldo’s training team, Nova União, which is based in Rio, and Mendes’s camp in Sacramento, Calif., Team Alpha Male. The Brazilian team had dominated all head-to-head faceoffs before May, when Mendes’s teammate T.J. Dillashaw knocked out Renan Barão for the UFC bantamweight belt. Ever since then, there’s been yapping between the camps. Now the time for talk is over.

Last five fights

2/1/14 Ricardo Lamas W UD 5
8/3/13 Chan Sung Jung W TKO 4
2/2/13 Frankie Edgar W UD 5
1/14/12 Chad Mendes W KO 1
10/8/11 Kenny Florian W UD 5

12/14/13 Nik Lentz W UD 3
8/31/13 Clay Guida W TKO 3
4/20/13 Darren Elkins W TKO 1
12/15/12 Yaotzin Meza W KO 1
7/7/12 Cody McKenzie W TKO 1

Tale of the tape


Sept. 9, 1986


May 1, 1985

Manaus, Brazil


Hanford, Calif.

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil 


Sacramento, Calif.













* Official weights announced at the weigh-in (Friday, 4 p.m. ET, Fox Sports 1)

Other numbers to count on

20:20: Average time of a José Aldo fight (in minutes and seconds), the longest in UFC history, according to FightMetric statistics.
88.9:Percent opponents’ takedown attempts successfully defended by Aldo, 10th-best all-time in the UFC.
77.4: Percent of opponents’ significant strike attempts avoided by Chad Mendes, second-best in UFC history. Aldo is fifth-best, at 72.1 percent.

Greatest hits

José Aldo KO’s Chad Mendes in their first meeting:


The first meeting ended with a clean knockout, but before that leaping knee landed on Mendes’s noggin in the final seconds before the horn was to sound, Round 1 had been a competitive battle. Aldo threw hard kicks and some punches from the outside, and Mendes went for takedowns. José grabbed the fence to fend off one try, but when Mendes successfully took him to the canvas moments later, Aldo popped right back to his feet. He was a handful for the aggressive wrestler.

Since then, Mendes has been on a tear, with five straight wins, four by knockout. His game has both rounded out and sharpened, making him a threat even with a fight standing. But his victims have been nowhere near Aldo’s equals, so he would be wise to stick to his greatest area of strength on Saturday night. That’s wrestling. Threaten with strikes, especially game-changing punches that might put some hesitancy in the champ’s heart. But don’t trade for long with the slickly devastating striker.

The odds

Aldo is the betting favorite, with a money line ranging from -210 (bet $100 to win $47.62) to -270 (bet $100 to win $37.04) at various sportsbooks. The line on Mendes ranges from +170 (bet $100 to win $170) to +196 (bet $100 to win $196).


Aldo sometimes makes it look easy. But it isn’t easy maintaining a firm grasp on a brass-and-leather strap that the likes of Frankie Edgar, Kenny Florian, and Urijah Faber are trying to yank away. Mendes has the tools to make this a tough night for Aldo, but José is well equipped to once again persevere. Both of Aldo’s previous title defenses in Rio have ended in knockouts, but I think this one is going the distance. Aldo by decision.

Fighting Words

“He’s a piece of [poop].”
-- José Aldo telling Brazilian media what he thinks of Chad Mendes

“Chad Mendes opened his big mouth after [Aldo teammate Renan] Barão lost to [Mendes teammate] T.J. Dillashaw. … But Aldo is not Barão, and Dillashaw is not Chad Mendes. This [poop] talking between them has Aldo all fired up. … He’s ready to give Mendes a real beatdown.”
-- Pedro Rizzo, Muay Thai coach for Aldo, during a UFC 179 Embedded preview

“This is a huge fight for me, all about redemption, payback and getting that title. … I’m going to get in there, whoop his ass in his back yard, and take that belt back to Sacramento.”
-- Chad Mendes during a UFC 179 Embedded preview

The rest of the card

Glover Teixeira vs. Phil Davis, light heavyweight; Fabio Maldonado vs. Hans Stringer, light heavyweight; Darren Elkins vs. Lucas Martins, featherweight; Carlos Diego Ferreira vs. Beneil Dariush, lightweight.

Preliminary card (8 p.m. ET, Fox Sports 1): William Macario vs. Neil Magny, welterweight; Yan Cabral vs. Naoyuki Kotani, lightweight; Scott Jorgensen vs. Wilson Reis, flyweight; Felipe Arantes vs. Andre Fili, featherweight.

Online prelims (7 p.m. ET, UFC Fight Pass): Gilbert Burns vs. Christos Giagos, lightweight; Fabricio Camões vs. Tony Martin, lightweight.

Programming Notes

Mike Goldberg will handle blow-by-blow and Joe Rogan analysis for the main-card telecast on pay-per-view as well as prelims on Fox Sports 1 and the UFC Fight Pass. An hour-long postfight show begins at 1 a.m. ET on Fox Sports 2.

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