Nik “the Carny” Lentz (24-5-2-1, 8-2-1-1 UFC) vs. Chad “Money” Mendes (15-1, 6-1 UFC), at UFC on FOX 9
This is honestly an outstanding quality of a mixed martial arts contest. These 2 featherweight fighters are similar in style and have both been recently re-energized by different circumstances. This fight will be Lentz’s 4th fight at 145 and he has been thoroughly impressive thus far. For Mendes it was his loss to champ Jose Aldo and the addition to his camp of head coach Duane Ludwig that seems to have lit a fire under his rear end.
Lentz was another NCAA division I wrestler for powerhouse University of Minnesota before switching to MMA. He trained with Greg Nelson at Minnesota MMA Academy before adding American Top Team to the mix. The results have been stellar as Lentz has been looking great inside the UFC. He did well as a 155er but the size factor held him back from doing real damage and now at 145 he straight works guys (so far).
-Lentz has somewhat of a unique wrestling style in that he’s part grinder (think Jon Fitch) and part dump you on your head-blast double-type (think prime Sean Sherk). He does both very well and can switch back n forth depending on the situation. With the diversity of fighters in the UFC nowadays this is a definite asset. His gas tank and physical strength just make him that much more effective.
-He hits hard in the stand up realm and is definitely not afraid to get in there and mix it up, judges love this and it certainly doesn’t hurt in the close fights to have some intangibles on your side. His chin is good and he moves a lot to create opportunities.
-Lentz’s style was good even at 155, at 145 he is a bigger, stronger, more effective version. The weight cut seems to be a total non issue and that is encouraging for his prospects in tough fights.
Lentz is unbeaten in the UFC at 145 and really looking great. He is hurting guys more and doing more damage which is obviously a good thing. Considering how bad he beat Diego Nunes it would’ve been nice to see a finish, but at that point nobody had been able to finish Nunes. His finishing ability could use an upgrade especially if he wants to get anywhere near a title shot. The problem style for Lentz historically has been bigger, longer, sub grapplers and since there are a few of them at 145 he will need to adjust to the style better.
Thanks to his all American wrestling career Chad Mendes has been highly touted since the beginning of his MMA career back in 2008. Clearing every hurdle in his way from his time as a prospect all the way up until now where he is the 2nd or 3rd best FW in the world, Mendes is a class fighter.
-Mendes’ wrestling in the cage is highly effective and still his bread and butter. The difference between now and his younger days is that now he uses it much more to make his kickboxing more effective, which it does incredibly well. He has taken down everyone who he has ever tried to take down with the exception of Jose Aldo who straight up grabbed the fence.
-As good as Mendes is offensively, his defense is nearly impenetrable. With his striking and takedown defense in the top 5 amongst all UFC fighters, fighting him is like fighting a fire hydrant.
-Most impressive about Mendes is his newfound killer instinct. He has been simply devastating since losing to Aldo and has fought some notoriously tough guys.
At 15 wins against just 1 loss Mendes is the cream of the crop. His winning ways are all the more impressive when you look at who he has fought since coming into the ZUFFA fold in the WEC. A win here would make it hard to deny him another title shot and we know he wants it bad.
These guys are pretty evenly matched and even with Mendes being as dominant as he is, it’s still a tough fight to pick a winner. Lentz may be able to match Mendes on sheer power and brute force but Mendes is no doubt the more polished of the 2 fighters. That will be the difference as Chad Mendes picks up yet another impressive win either by early stoppage or unanimous decision.