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UFC 142: Scarface contemplates victory

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Brazilian featherweight phenomenon Jose ‘Scarface’ Aldo (20-1) will defend his title against Sacramento’s Team Alpha Male standout Chad ‘Money’ Mendes (11-0) in a packed house in Rio de Janeiro, Saturday, December 14. The fight promises to be a war.

Aldo simply has no holes. This doesn’t mean he finishes every fight, or that he wins every round,  but the speed and efficiency he applies to his brutal Muay Thai boxing and BJJ has made the champion seem unbeatable. That is, until Canadian Mark Hominick and Bostonian Kenny Florian made Scarface look human.

Hominick ended their five round scrap at UFC 129 in top position, despite sporting a huge hematoma over his right eye. Florian failed to take Aldo down at UFC 136, but stood with the frightening Aldo to the final bell, proving again that a person can step into the Octagon with Aldo and not be put to sleep with a flying knee.

Since 2008, Aldo has had eight fights in the WEC (World Extreme Cagefighting)---an organization noted for its high-quality fighters in the feather and bantam weight classes, divisions the UFC didn’t have till it purchased it---and two in the UFC. Seven of his  WEC fights ended in KO or TKO. His two UFC fights were against Hominick and Florian.

Team Alpha Male leader Uriah Faber, a former WEC champ and stellar wrestler, was chopped down by Aldo in 2010, with brutal leg kicks that had Faber hobbling throughout much of the fight. Faber was unable to take down Aldo, but survived to the final bell. However, Faber insists Mendes---an All-American wrestler from Cal-Poly San Luis Obispo---is a better wrestler than he. Mendes supporters also claim his persistence and athleticism are a bad omen for the Brazilian.

I wouldn’t have believed this hype had I not seen the torrid Mendes in the cage. Like all Team Alpha Male fighters, he’s a ferocious and tenacious wrestler, and he can strike, but his striking is  a weakness when compared with elite bone-throwers like Aldo. Ergo, the  Californian will want the fight on the mat, where Aldo is no slouch.  Mendes has 5  decisions and 1 submission win in 4 WEC fights and 2 UFC bouts. If Money can take the belt from Aldo, it won’t be by submission or KO, it’ll be by ground and pound control.

Aldo is another of the famed Brazilian fighters to come from abject poverty, at a scope beyond what you can see even in the deep southern United States. You hear stories about these fighters migrating from the huge shanty towns,  not a coin in their pocket, or even a pocket, training vigorously every day, often with the tireless help and food donations from the gym owners and instructors, carrying with them a motivation you have to be born into. The scar on Aldo’s  face is a remnant of sibling roughhousing, when his sisters pushed him onto a barbeque. The fact that your sisters are responsible for your scared face just adds to  the mystique.

Mendes says if anyone can dethrone Aldo, he can. It sounds like promo, like the never-ending belief-in-self fighters must have. But Mendes is right: if Aldo hasn’t shown weaknesses, he has shown himself to be human when his back is to the mat, and Mendes may be the best applied wrestler in the division.

It will be evident early on, though, that Aldo’s varied and calculated strikes are too much for the Californian. Aldo via TKO in the third.

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