|Image via Ryan McKinnell, Examiner.com|
(**NOTE**: Joseph Benavidez let me know that I forgot to include that Justin Buchholz would be fighting for the Superior Cage Combat championship on February 16th in Las Vegas. Make that 4 possible championships for Team Alpha Male.)
This Saturday, Chad Mendes will try to be the man that takes the Featherweight championship away from Jose Aldo. Mendes fights out of Team Alpha Male, a fight team that operates out of the Ultimate Fitness gym in Sacramento, California. The team is lead by former WEC Featherweight champion Urijah Faber and is the home of many prominent MMA fighters including Faber, Mendes, Joseph Benavidez, Danny Castillo, Justin Buchholz and T.J. Dillashaw.
2012 looks to be a big year for Team Alpha Male. The cosmos/luck/fate/Jesus/Flying Spaghetti Monster seems to have lined up an opportunity for Team Alpha Male to become the only MMA team to have 3 UFC champions. General Faber and his troops have a chance to put a stranglehold on the MMA world and show their superiority over more publicized teams such as Team Jackson and Blackhouse. Here is the game plan for how they plan to take over this sport by the middle of year.
Step 1: Chad Mendes wins the UFC Featherweight Title
Chad Mendes is the undisputed #1 contender to the UFC Featherweight championship. “Money” Mendes has won all 11 of his professional fights and has victories over fighters such as Rani Yahya, Michihiro Omigawa and Javier Vazquez. Mendes has the unenviable task of trying to defeat Featherweight kingpin and Top 5 P4P fighter Jose Aldo in his home country. Aldo has some of the best standup in MMA and a black belt in BJJ to go along with that.
The gameplan for Mendes to beat Aldo can be summarized in 3 words: “take him down.” Mendes is going to have to put Aldo on his ass early and often. He doesn’t want to let the champ get a rhythm going with his strikes and allow him to put combinations together. More importantly, Mendes needs to avoid what happened to his teammate Urijah Faber and not get blasted with leg kicks. If Mendes is able to take Aldo down, beat him up and avoid submissions, he has a good chance of becoming the second UFC Featherweight Champion in history.
Step 2: Joseph Benavidez becomes the first ever UFC Flyweight Champion
Joseph Benavidez has been fighting in the “wrong” weight class for years. Benavidez (or Joe-B-Wan Kenobi) has been making his living fighting in the 135 lb weight class despite his frame being much better suited for the then-nonexistent UFC Flyweight division (125 lbs). Despite this, Benavidez has proven to be one of the best fighters in the world at bantamweight with his only 2 career losses being close fights against division champion Dominick Cruz.
Recently UFC announced a four man tournament to crown the company’s first flyweight champion. On one side of the bracket, Benavidez will take on Shooto 123 lb champion Yasuhiro Urushitani. A number of things favor Benavidez in this fight. Urushitani is primarily known for his striking. Benavidez fights out of Team Alpha Male…which means he can wrestle and will be able to dictate where the fight takes place. Urushitani is also kind of old (35) and Benavidez can put on a pace that is very difficult to keep up with. Finally, this is Urushitani's first UFC fight, which normally means octagon jitters…giving Benavidez another advantage.
If Benavidez gets past Urushitani, he would take on the winner of Demetrius Johnson and Ian McCall in a early summer championship fight. Demetrius is known for using his strikes to set up his takedowns while “Uncle Creepy” is the Tachi Palace Flyweight Champion. With either of this opponents, Benavidez would likely be the favorite given his big fight experience and overall skill set.
(STEP 3 After the jump)
Step 3: Urijah Faber beats Dominick Cruz for the UFC Bantamweight Title
(I’m not going to lie to you. Faber is one of my favorite fighters (UC Davis represent) and I'm not biggest fan of Cruz's fighting style. This is not where you will find an unbiased opinion).
The UFC has announced that Urijah Faber and Dominick Cruz would be the coaches on the upcoming season of The Ultimate Fighter, the first to air on FX. These two men are very familiar with each other, having fought twice before. Their first fight took place in March 2007 when Cruz challenged Faber for the WEC Featherweight Title. Faber made quick work of “The Dominator,” winning by guillotine choke in under 2 minutes. Their second fight took place in July of this past year. Cruz was able to defeat Faber in battle that was a Fight of the Year candidate.
In order to defeat Cruz, “The California Kid” is going to need to expand on what he did in the second fight. Faber was scoring points throughout the fight and even dropped the champ a few times. The problem with fighting Cruz is that it’s almost as if he is being awarded points based on his movement. Cruz has an unusual style and throws a lot of strikes that don’t appear to be that powerful (according to Faber…please don’t hit me if you read this Cruz). All of those strikes score in the judges’. However, if Urijah Faber puts more pressure on Cruz and lands a few more shots, it’s very possible that he walks away from the rubber match with the UFC Bantamweight Title.
Well there you have it folks. Team Alpha Male’s 3 step (well, I guess it could be 4 because Benavidez needs to win twice) plan to take over the MMA world by the middle of 2012. Will they be able to pull it off? Who knows? I’ll tell you this: it’ll be fun to watch them try.
Props to YouTube user MMAWizard on the highlight video.