UFC / WEC veteran Dan Downes talks strategy and predictions for UFC 179: Aldo vs. Mendes 2, taking place Saturday, October 25...
Dry your eyes boys and girls, it’s time for another edition of the Downes Side! Don’t call it a comeback (it was more of a brief hiatus), but the Nostradamus of MMA has returned to enlighten, engage and enfuriate readers and editors the world over. (Ed note – nice one with enfuriate and not infuriate)
This weekend we find ourselves in Rio de Janeiro for UFC 179. Live from the Maracanzinho Gymnasium, Jose Aldo defends his featherweight title against Chad Mendes in the main event of the evening. A rematch nearly three years in the making, Aldo knocked out Mendes with a well-placed knee the first time around. In the co-main event, light heavyweights Phil Davis and Glover Teixeira try to work their way back into title contention.
We begin in the lightweight division with Diego Ferreira and Beneil Dariush. Ferreira made quite the impression in his UFC debut by submitting Colton Smith in the first round. He continued to impress his second time in the Octagon with a TKO win over Ramsey Nijem. A Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt, Ferreira prefers to counter strike as opposed to charging right at opponents. After losing to Nijem by TKO, Kings MMA product Beneil Dariush responded with a submission win over Tony Martin. Another BJJ black belt, Dariush rounds his skills out with capable striking.
It doesn’t take Sherlock Holmes or Encyclopedia Brown to come to a conclusion based on Ferreira and Dariush’s common opponent. Much like the Ab-Rocker I have sitting in my garage, MMA math doesn’t work...except in this case. Dariush has the better overall wrestling game, but Ferreira has enough defense to avoid being smothered. Dariush starts strong, but has looked inconsistent. Ferreira wins by unanimous decision.
We drop to featherweight for Darren Elkins and Lucas Martins. A grinder who relies heavily on his wrestling, Elkins steps inside the Octagon for the 11th time. He’s dropped two of his last three, and needs to reverse his fall in the rankings. A member of Team Chute Boxe and winner of three in a row, Lucas “Mineiro” Martins attacks relentlessly. Fourteen of his wins have come via finish and he’s only gone the distance once in his career.
Martins has the potential to be a force in the division, but Elkins is a difficult matchup. Repeatedly attacking with low kicks and flurries can hurt opponents, but it also leaves you susceptible to the takedown. If Elkins can force the fight against the fence, it could be a long night for the Brazilian. Having said that, Martins’ speed advantage will be the difference maker. Elkins isn’t the quickest offensively, and he should have a problem closing the distance. As long as Martins remains patient, he’ll bruise Elkins in the first and finish him in the second. Martins by TKO.
We move to light heavyweight for Fabio Maldonado and Hans Stringer. Maldonado’s three-fight win streak came to an abrupt end in May when Stipe Miocic needed 35 seconds to finish him. He wisely returns to the 205-lb division to face Dutch fighter and possible action movie villain Hans Stringer. A jack of all trades, but master of none, Stringer eked out a split decision win over Francimar Barroso in his UFC debut.
It’s hard to root against a guy nicknamed “Hillbilly Steel.” Not only does he put on exciting fights, he was also the inspiration for my Iron Maiden bluegrass tribute band. There’s no secret to his strategy. He’s going to go straight forward and box his way to victory. Despite a predictable offense, Stringer hasn’t proven that he’ll be able to withstand it. He’s well-rounded, but until he exhibits something on the next level, I’m taking Maldonado by decision. He then sells the “Hillbilly Steel” rights to Marvel where they’ll make a movie almost as bad as Ghost Rider.
GLOVER TEIXEIRA VS. PHIL DAVIS
We stay at light heavyweight for the co-main event of the evening. His 20-fight win streak may have ended against Jon Jones, but Glover Teixeira can keep his name in the title picture. Heavy-handed with an underrated wrestling game, he’ll need to put it to work against Phil Davis. A four-time All-American wrestler, Davis tries to rebound after a disappointing performance against Anthony Johnson his last time out.
Right now Phil Davis’s stock is dropping faster than Hot Pocket sales. Davis may have looked lackluster against Johnson, but there’s no need to panic. Davis struggled against Johnson because he couldn’t get on the inside. That won’t be a problem against Teixeira. His power punches require him to close the distance, and that will make him susceptible to Davis’s grappling attack. Teixeira does defend takedowns at a 75% rate, but that doesn’t account for all the time he’ll spend trying to keep that statistic intact. Davis smothers Teixeira for the unanimous decision. That’s right, there’s even hope for the Hot Pockets of the world.
JOSE ALDO VS. CHAD MENDES
Time for the main event! Unbeaten since 2005, Jose Aldo is the first and only featherweight champion in UFC history. He’s come under criticism for his output as of late, but you can’t argue with results (I suppose Immanuel Kant did, but he was never much of an MMA fan anyway). Undefeated since his loss to Aldo back in 2012, “Money” Mendes has added some KO power to his already vaunted wrestling game.
Mendes has certainly improved the last few years. He added a new threat to his game, but it’s important not to overestimate his KO ability as his last five opponents have not been especially strong in the striking department. Aldo will be Mendes’s first real test since Jose Aldo. Mendes has improved since their first contest, but he’ll still struggle to string combinations together. Aldo does not stand flat-footed and allow opponents to get comfortable. He’ll avoid big shots and counter with low kicks. Mendes won’t fall victim to another knee TKO, but he won’t take the title either. Aldo by unanimous decision.
That wraps up another enticing edition of the Downes Side! Follow me on Twitter @dannyboydownes. Don’t forget to enumerate all your enthusiastic entreaties on the page here. I’m sure I’ll be enamored by all your enchanting encouragement.