What should be an interesting featherweight bout will go down Thursday at WEC 52 as rising star Chad Mendes meets savvy veteran Javier Vazquez. Will it be "Showtime" for Vazquez or will Mendes be "Money" again? Here is MMA For Real's preview of the fight:
Record: 8-0-0 overall, 3-0-0 WEC
Key losses: None
How he got here: After coming up through the California scene, Chad Mendes made his WEC debut against Erik Koch at WEC 47 in March, a fight he won by unanimous decision. The Team Alpha Male fighter made the short turnaround and submitted Anthony Morrison at WEC 48 the following month. He returned to the cage in August, controlling Cub Swanson en route to a unanimous decision victory.
How he gets it done: Mendes, 25, is a wrestler who plied his trade collegiately at Cal Poly, finishing second in the 2008 NCAA Tournament at 141 pounds after entering the tournament as the No. 1 seed. He primarily uses his wrestling in his fights, as was evident in his fights against both Koch and Swanson where he cruised to decision victories by being too strong a wrestler.
X-Factor: There's no doubting Mendes is an outstanding wrestler, but how will he respond to being in the biggest fight of his career against an extremely slick submission fighter?
Record: 15-4-0 overall, 2-2-0 WEC
Key wins: Rumina Sato (Shooto: Treasure Hunt 7), Jens Pulver (WEC 47)
Key losses: L.C. Davis (WEC 42), Deividas Taurosevicius (WEC 43)
How he got here: Javier Vazquez has had an interesting career, battling knee injuries and even retiring at one point after a ShoXC fight in October 2007. He returned to action a little less than two years later, winning a quick fight at the fabled "Ultimate Chaos" event before being signed by the WEC, debuting at WEC 42, losing a split decision to L.C. Davis. He followed that up with another close split decision loss, this one to Deividas Taurosevicius. Many thought Vazquez won both those fights. Vazquez has rebounded in 2010, submitting both Jens Pulver (WEC 47) and Mackens Semerzier (WEC 50). The two wins have earned him a featured fight on this show.
How he gets it done: A Gracie Jiu-Jitsu black belt, Vazquez's bread-and-butter is on the ground. Of his 15 career wins, 10 have come by submission, three by decision and one by TKO. All four of Vazquez's losses have been by decision with three of them being split decisions. Vazquez has shown the ability to use a variety of submissions to end the fight.
X-Factor: Will Vazquez's jiu-jitsu be enough to overcome Mendes' smothering style?
Bottom line: Mendes likely will be able to take Vazquez down, and Vazquez might even pull guard if he can't take Mendes down. Does Mendes have enough experience to hold off someone as crafty as Vazquez? That's the big question here. This has the makings of one of those fights that make judges go crazy. I'm going to go with Mendes to remain undefeated with a decision win.
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