A couple weeks ago, after having looked at a lot of upcoming matchups in the UFC, I speculated that instead of using scientific formulas or an elaborate ranking system for matchmaking, that Joe Silva and Sean Shelby instead use the alphabet. I mean, come on. Roland Delorme vs. Nick Denis? Dustin Pague vs. Jared Papazian?
But now, as reported by Shaun Al-Shatti at MMA Fighting, we have the best evidence yet that Mr. Silva and Mr. Shelby are more likely to use a rolodex than a spreadsheet. That’s right: Cody McKenzie, who just defeated Marcus LeVesseur, will be moving down to featherweight to take on none other than Chad Mendes.
There is no logical thought process that leads to this being a fight that makes sense for either guy. McKenzie is 2-2 in the UFC, with wins over Aaron Wilkinson and the aforementioned Marcus LeVesseur. His losses are to Yves Edwards and Vagner Rocha, and neither of those guys are taking the UFC lightweight division by storm. Meanwhile, Mendes is 11-1 overall, with the majority of those fights taking place in the WEC and UFC, and his one loss was to some guy named Jose Aldo. SILVA currently estimates Mendes to be the 4th-best fighter at 145 pounds in the world, behind only Aldo, Daniel Straus, and Patricio “Pitbull” Freire.
Speaking of SILVA, what does it think about this fight? Well, it gives Mendes a SILVA score of 80.26, which establishes him as a viable championship contender. Meanwhile, it gives McKenzie a SILVA score of 40.62. Examples of fighters with similar SILVA scores include Chris Tuchscherer, Michael Johnson, Eric Wisely, Anthony Perosh, and James Head. If SILVA is any sort of guide, this is like having Chael Sonnen fight Tim Credeur. I fully expect Mendes to calmly avoid the guillotine choke threats of McKenzie, and use his striking, wrestling, and power to punish him throughout.
Obviously, I can’t prove any of my claims; they’re speculation at best. But when I try to think of how the UFC could come up with McKenzie vs. Mendes, there’s only one thing in my mind that seems possible. A-B-C-D-E-F-G…