UFC 173 concluded on Saturday night with Team Alpha Male getting their first world champion as TJ Dillashaw pulled off the upset against Renan Barao. Nova Uniao will face Team Alpha Male once again at UFC 176, with Jose Aldo defending his UFC featherweight title against Chad Mendes in the main event – could Mendes pull off the upset and bring more gold to Team Alpha Male?
After many ruled out the prospect of Dillashaw winning the title at 173, the result was surprising, even to those who favoured the American. Not only did Dillashaw defeat the man who was at one point in time a -1215 favourite for the fight, but he completely dominated him to the point that the then-champion looked out of his depth, baffled and looking for a way out. Can Chad Mendes do the same thing when facing a man also deemed unbeatable in Jose Aldo?
It is no secret that Dillashaw’s relationship with Duane Ludwig is one of the – if not the – strongest out of the gym. Dillashaw and Mendes have arguably shown the most improvements while being coached under Ludwig, and Mendes’ chances of winning the title are far superior with Ludwig’s coaching than without, as the Coach of the Year stated himself on The MMA Hour. With Ludwig leaving the team after Dillashaw winning the title, it has been confirmed that TJ will still train under ‘Bang’ while staying with Team Alpha Male and will be cornered by the former UFC welterweight.
Perhaps Mendes should consider doing the same thing.
Dillashaw showed incredible footwork, cardio and striking in his win over Barao, and those were his keys to victory. He was too quick for the flat-footed former champ, rocking him in the first and third, and ultimately winning via TKO in the fifth. It was an unbelievable performance, and one that gives Mendes all the confidence in the world.
‘Money’ has won his last four, including his first three via form of TKO, and has rightly earned a second shot at the featherweight crown. Though he suffered a first round KO loss to Aldo in their first bout, it was not without its controversy after the champ held the cage to prevent a takedown. With his improved striking and stellar strength and conditioning regime, Mendes has a great chance of taking a second title to the gym.
It certainly won’t be easy and I am in no way predicting Mendes will put on the same sort of dominance Dillashaw exhibited against Barao, but don’t rule out the Team Alpha Male product like many did – myself included – at UFC 173.
UFC 176 goes down on August 2 at Staples Centre in Los Angeles, CA.