Who’s WINNING & Who’s LOSING by GO PAOLO
Jose Aldo (-210) vs Chad Mendes (+180)
UFC Featherweight Championship (145 lbs)
Why Chad Mendes will win
“Money” Mendes finally gets his shot to avenge his 2012 loss to Jose Aldo (in a fight with some cage-grabbing controversy on Aldo’s part). That has been Mendes’s only loss to date and since then has knocked out four of his five opponents including the stone-chinned Clay Guida. With his striking improvements under Duane Ludwig’s tutelage, the NCAA Division I All-American wrestler and Team Alpha Male standout may be in the best shape of his career.
Why Jose Aldo will win
The last Brazilian champion remaining and arguably the country’s greatest mixed martial artist outside the great Anderson Silva. Jose Aldo is 24-1 overall and unbeaten under Zuffa (UFC/WEC) employ. Aldo has been criticized lately for his lack of killer instinct but he has handily beaten every contender the UFC has thrown to him. Aldo’s combination of vicious leg kicks, octagon awareness and near-perfect takedown defense has led to his iron-grip on the division and Mendes accusing him of PEDs may just have awakened a long dormant fire in him. Jose Aldo is out for blood and the killer version of Aldo may just make Mendes regret his words.
Chad Mendes has vastly improved his striking since he lost to Aldo and definitely has all the momentum in his favour. It’s also a concern Aldo gets weaker as the fight goes on although Mendes himself has never fought beyond the third round. If Mendes can pull the nigh-impossible and take Aldo to the ground (and keep him there), he has the best shot to upset him but his short reach and Aldo’s impeccable striking game and octagon control will lead him to victory even if Mendes makes this Aldo’s toughest fight to date.
Jose Aldo def. Chad Mendes via Unanimous Decision
Glover Teixeira (-355) vs Phil Davis (+275)
Light Heavyweight (205 lbs)
Why Phil Davis will win
“Mr. Wonderful” is a former NCAA Division I Wrestling Champion and has a purple belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu; he is one of the UFC’s best grapplers and has a notable win over Lyoto Machida in Brazil! He’s the first non-champion to beat the elusive Brazilian and he’ll try to do the same to Teixeira. Davis’s striking game is weak but once he gets close to grappling range he can wear out his opponent if he doesn’t finish them with a submission first.
Why Glover Teixeira will win
Teixeira is far and away the better striker and has a second degree black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu; of course, Teixeira is susceptible to being taken down but his violent style and powerful boxing can leave his opponents too respectful to get too close. Teixeira’s only loss in the UFC came to the champion, Jon Jones and he’ll look to get a rematch on Davis’s expense.
The prototypical “striker versus grappler” match; Teixeira has the striking advantage by far and despite Davis’s tough chin, he hasn’t shown a respectable striking game. Davis can time his takedowns and neuter Teixeira to win the scorecards but just as likely Teixeira can win just by being the more active and aggressive fighter.
Glover Teixeira def. Phil Davis via Unanimous Decision
Fábio Maldonado (-125) vs Hans Stringer (+100)
Light Heavyweight (205 lbs)
Why Hans Stringer will win
The Dutch kickboxer is a Blackzilian product has as many pro fights as his age (27); his game is versatile and has nine wins by T/KO and eight by submission. While his striking game may be his best asset, Stringer has been known to take fights to the ground. He is the more versatile fighter and his clinch may be what could win him the fight if he is able to utilize it.
Why Fábio Maldonado will win
The “Iron Hilbilly” is a fan favourite and one of the UFC’s toughest (if not the toughest) fighter; Maldonado has won three straight fights at light heavyweight and is a Brazilian fixture. The former undefeated boxer has a brown belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu but that may just be an accessory as it’s no secret how he likes to fight: standing and beating the snot out of his foe.
Very close fight and an excellent match-up; ideally Maldonado and Stringer will go at it and exchange punches and kicks but sooner rather than later Stringer may just try taking Maldonado down or controlling him from throwing leather. Striking wise they are almost even and while Stringer has more tools to victory, Maldonado may get the judges’ favour.
Fábio Maldonado def. Hans Stringer via Split Decision
Darren Elkins (-185) vs Lucas Martins (+165)
Featherweight (145 lbs)
Why Lucas Martins
“Mineiro” is a hot Brazilian prospect notable for having already fought in THREE divisions within the UFC alone. He’s 15-1 overall with 11 finishes by T/KO including two in the UFC. His only loss is to lightweight contender, Edson Barboza. The Chute Boxe Muay Thai fighter loves to stand and bang and will look to finish Elkins violently and notch his fourth straight win in the octagon.
Why Darren Elkins will win
Elkins is a freestyle and Greco-roman wrestler with a brown belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. At 17-4, his featherweight record in the UFC is 6-2 with his only losses to title contenders Chad Mendes and Jeremy Stephens. Elkins is the prototypical “grinder” and is neither explosive nor athletic but has won over fighters who were thanks to his rugged endurance and determination.
Another “striker versus grappler” fight; as it’s been mentioned many times, whichever fighter manages to impose his game will likely win. If Martins keeps the fight standing for the most part he could even finish Elkins. Likelihood points that Elkins may be able to stifle and control Martins for the majority of the fight en route to a hard fought decision.
Darren Elkins def. Lucas Martins via Split Decision
Carlos Diego Ferreira (-220) vs Beneil Dariush (+175)
Lightweight (155 lbs)
Why Beneil Dariush will win
The Iranian-Assyrian fighter is 9-1 in his young MMA career (pro debut: 2009) and has a black belt in both Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and Muay Thai. At only 25, he shows a lot of calm in his technical MMA game. Only one of his 10 bouts has gone past the 2nd round and he has five of his nine wins coming via submission. Dariush is one of the UFC’s top lightweight prospects.
Why Carlos Diego Ferreira will win
Another top lightweight prospect, “CDF” has a background in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Judo and Boxing. Ferreira is undefeated (11-0) and finished both of his fights in the UFC. He is primarily a grappler (6 of 11 wins by submission) but his boxing is improving and he throws heavy leather as Ramsey Nijem found out. Ferreira can get tentative but he has tremendous finishing ability.
A very even match-up. Both Dariush and Ferreira are relatively young in the MMA game and have similar height, reach and grappling background. The edge slightly goes to Ferreira in terms of grappling and he has more punching power but Dariush is more technical. It’ll be a close fight both standing and on the ground and could lead to a close decision win for either but Ferreira seems to have the better tools to finish or at least outscore Dariush.
Carlos Diego Ferreira def. Beneil Dariush via Unanimous Decision