UFC on FOX 9 Fight Breakdown: Chad Mendes (-600) vs. Nik Lentz (+450)

Chad Mendes One of four main card matchups at UFC on FOX 9 is a featherweight battle between top contender Chad “Money” Mendes and the emerging Nik “The Carny” Lentz. The current betting line for this bout at Several Bookmakers sees Mendes as a -600 betting favorite (bet $600 to win $100) and Lentz as a +450 dog (bet $100 to win $450). MMA oddsmaker Nick Kalikas opened up Mendes as a -380 favorite and Lentz as a +260 dog, meaning the betting public has so far come in heavy on “Money.” I can’t blame the betting public here, as I am also expecting Mendes to win this fight, and to do so in dominating fashion. Here’s why. Mendes (15-1) is currently riding a four-fight win streak with all of those victories coming by way of T/KO (over Clay Guida, Darren Elkins, Yaotzin Meza and Cody McKenzie), a UFC featherweight record. The 28-year-old Mendes is not just a wrestler anymore, but a fully-fledged mixed martial artist, and he’s dominated in impressive fashion since his lone career loss to UFC featherweight champion Jose Aldo at UFC 142 to remain the No. 2 ranked fighter in the division. It was that fight that was the turning point for Mendes, in my opinion, because it showed him that if he ever wanted to win the UFC title he would have to improve his striking. And since then, with the help of new Team Alpha Male coach Duane Ludwig, he’s certainly done just that with his string of brutal KO victories over a number of solid featherweights. Now, he puts his four-fight win streak on the line against perhaps the toughest opponent he’s fought since Aldo, Lentz. Lentz (24-5-2, 1 NC) is the prototypical grinder. The 29-year-old Lentz has terrific takedowns and improving striking, and since moving to American Top Team, dropping down to 145 pounds, and getting his nutritional guidance from the vaunted Mike Dolce, Lentz has been nothing but impressive, as he’s currently riding a three-fight win streak with Ws over Hacran Dias, Diego Nunes, and Eiji Mitsuoka. In those three fights, Lentz used his takedowns to get the fights on the floor and grind his opponents out, but it’s going to be much harder to do that against Mendes, a fighter who has never been taken down once in his career. Although Lentz has the size advantage in this fight, it might not matter because I really don’t see him being able to get Mendes down and, shockingly, I think Lentz’ best way to win might be to try and use his reach advantage and outpoint Mendes on the feet. But I have a feeling that won’t work, either. I really like Lentz a lot both as a fighter and a person but this is a terrible matchup for him and I just can’t see him coming through with the win. Although Lentz has improved his striking, Mendes is still ahead of him in that department, especially when it comes to power, and even though Lentz has great wrestling, Mendes has never been taken down in the UFC or WEC and I just can’t see that happening here. So I just don’t see a clear path to victory for “The Carny,” even though it would be cool to see him get the upset. At -600, Mendes is likely going to be a popular parlay play, but I think the smart money here is on betting either Mendes ITD or the UNDER 2.5 rounds total, which is currently at plus money. Although Lentz is tough as nails and has a chin of granite, so did Guida and Elkins and we saw what Mendes did to them. So I’m going with Mendes to win this fight via T/KO, and to continue moving closer to another title shot against Aldo.

Written by Adam Martin.

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