In his first UFC main event at UFC 142, featherweight champion Jose Aldo (20-1) will defend his title for the third time, and for the first time in front of a hometown crowd, against No. 1 contender Chad "Money" Mendes (11-0). The pay-per-view will take place at the HSBC Arena in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Mendes, a former NCAA Division I wrestler, has every intention of ruining the party for the Brazilian fans, and he knows exactly what he needs to do to get the job done, and that's take Aldo down.
In preparation for Mendes' wrestling and takedowns, Aldo brought in former UFC lightweight title challenger Gray Maynard. This might be the most important thing he could have done leading up to the fight, and it's going to take a well thought-out and focused game plan to give the Team Alpha Male member his first professional defeat.
Most of those who are picking Mendes are picking him to win a decision over the five rounds. If this fight hits the 25-minute mark, it's a good bet Mendes imposed his game plan and got Aldo to the mat.
Aldo was last seen defeating Kenny Florian and Mark Hominick by decision after five rounds, so him winning on the scorecards isn't out of the question. He will also have the confidence of going the distance, so if one shot doesn't get the job done, he can always pick his shots and win on points.
Cardio has also been a question surrounding Aldo, but it was mostly put to rest after his last bout versus Florian, who he controlled throughout. It could be different if the Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt is on bottom and constantly working to get back to his feet.
If Aldo is to emerge victorious against Mendes, he will need to use his boxing and superior striking to keep Mendes on the outside while avoiding any takedown attempts.
All it takes is five takedowns to secure a victory for Mendes, and Aldo will have to be selective on which strikes he uses, especially if he plans on using his leg kicks. They may come into play later in the fight when Mendes could be worn down, but they will make him susceptible to the takedown early on.
Once the opening is there, expect Aldo to jump on it. He doesn't want to leave his fans disappointed without a knockout, but he is smart enough to not go crazy looking for it if it's not there.
Remember, this is a five-round fight. Even if Aldo loses the last two, he can still pull out a win by winning the first three, and it may very well come down to who wins the third round if the fight goes the distance.