UFC 164’s main pay-per-view card features a curious matchup of featherweights. Clay Guida will be taking on #1 ranked Chad Mendes. Why, you say? This make no sense, rankings-wise, you say? Well, I wish I had answers for you. Let’s dissect the fight.
Chad Mendes’ #1 spot in the featherweight division I completely agree with. His only loss on his 14-1 record is against current and long-time featherweight champ Jose Aldo. What I do not understand at all is the opponents that Mendes has been matched up with lately. After losing to Aldo he was immediately matched up against Ultimate fighter contestant Cody “The Guillotine” McKenzie. Top five Mendes against unranked McKenzie. Mendes did what he was supposed to do and quickly dispatched him with a body punch. After that, yet against Mendes is matched up against an unranked opponent named Yaotzin Meza. Never heard of him? Me neither. Another quick TKO win for Mendes. His most recent matchup was the most sensible one against Darren Elkins. Elkins was on a five fight win streak at the time. Three mismatches opponents later, and Mendes finally faces #9 on the list. Mortal Kombat brackets make better sense that this.
Clay Guida has had a controversial last few fights. He made in featherweight debut in his last fight against Hatsu Hioki. Hioki had him beat standing up, and so Guida landed a few takedowns. Guida did little to nothing with the position on numerous occasions, even forcing the referee to stand them up on two separate occasions. This is rare in the UFC. Guida somehow won a split decision in that fight, and even more inexplicably he was rewarded a shot at the number one contender as a result. This also put him at #9 at featherweight. None of this makes any sense to me. Guida has one fight at featherweight against a guy who isn’t even top ten, he is rewarded a highly debatable decision, and then he becomes #9 in the division. Strange.
My prediction: Mendes has the edge as far as wrestling goes over absolutely anyone in the division. No way Guida will be able to take him down. However, I do see Guida having a striking advantage in the fight. Mendes has decent striking, but not adequate to deal with the constant footwork and hustle of Guida. The crux of this fight will be Mendes’ striking confidence. Mendes is still very new to striking. While he is coming along great in that department, I fear that his last few TKO victories against lesser competition will work against him in this fight. If Mendes tries to rush in on Guida and finish with hooks the way he did against his last few opponents, Guida will be able to see it coming a mile away and pick him apart slowly. If Mendes can adapt mid-fight and start using his strikes to set up takedowns, then Mendes will win a decision. This will be a much closer matchup than most people think due to their different styles, but I say Mendes takes this one by using his wrestling to control the pace and position of the fight.