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The Daily Line: UFC 142 Previews And Predictions By The FightLine Staff

UFC 142: Aldo vs. Mendes goes down this Saturday from the HSBC Arena in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and will feature a featherweight championship bout between 145lbs. kingpin Jose Aldo and challenger Chad Mendes.

Supporting the main event is a middleweight tilt between Vitor Belfort and Anthony Johnson, which will only take place if Johnson weighs in at 205lbs. tomorrow, as he missed weight badly today. writer Dana Becker (@DanaBecker), head writer Mark Wayne (@_MarkWayne), and President Raj Giri (@RajGiri_303) preview the top fights and offer their predictions for the show.

Also, don’t forget to check back at FightLine on Saturday for our live, ongoing coverage of UFC 142: Aldo vs. Mendes.

Jose Aldo vs. Chad Mendes

Jose Aldo will attempt to make the fourth straight defense of his featherweight title this weekend in his own backyard against undefeated Team Alpha Male product Chad Mendes.

Unbeaten in thirteen straight bouts, the 25-year-old Brazilian has found his way high onto most pound-for-pound rankings as a result of his potent efficiency in the cage. Possessing explosive, technical striking on top of a competent submissions arsenal and stout counter wrestling, Aldo has proven himself to be deficient nowhere, his only weakness perhaps the drastic weight cut he makes that’s left him flat at the end of a few title defenses. 20-1 overall, Aldo has established himself as one of the very best fighters in the world and one of the hardest to defeat.

Though defeating Aldo is a tall task, it’s one that Mendes took on eagerly, the 26-year-old California native looking to finally prove his rightful status as the best featherweight in the world. Working off of a stout wrestling pedigree, Mendes has continued to grow as an all-around MMA fighter, largely thanks to teammates like Urijah Faber. Mendes has compile an 11-0 record during professional competition, picking up the majority of his victories by decision.

Mark: Jose Aldo has repeatedly proven himself to stand above the rest of the featherweight division. Though his recent title defenses have been less inspiring than many of his early performances, Aldo is a terror who will go into this fight with the added boosts of getting to fight without traveling, as usual, and having an entire country in his corner. Mendes is an incredibly talented fighter, but I don’t think he’s the one to dethrone Aldo – at least, not yet. Jose Aldo defeats Chad Mendes via third-round KO

Dana: Jose Aldo will have a lot of pressure on himself in this fight, competing in his native country of Brazil. That shouldn’t have much of a bad impact on “Scarface,” however, as he seems to be turning that corner into an elite MMA fighter. With Chad Mendes, Aldo must avoid takedown after takedown after takedown. If Aldo can stuff a few early takedown attempts, he will likely frustrate Mendes, making this a stand-up fight; which Aldo will win. Jose Aldo defeats Chad Mendes via fourth round submission (rear-naked choke)

Raj: I smell an upset here. While Aldo is nothing short of amazing in the cage, he has not shown the killer instinct since debuting in the UFC that made him such a pleasure to watch in WEC. Mendes’ gameplan is obvious, but it’s one that will give Aldo trouble. I see Aldo being able to avoid Mendes’ takedowns early, only to succumb to them in the later rounds, allowing Mendes to win the fight and the title. Mendes via unanimous decision.

Vitor Belfort vs. Anthony Johnson

Longtime top welterweight prospect Anthony “Rumble” Johnson will make his middleweight debut (sort of) against seasoned veteran and native Brazilian Vitor Belfort.

Vitor Belfort is as seasoned as they come, having faced a who’s who of the MMA elite, both at middleweight and light heavyweight. Also boasting a black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu, Belfort is known best for his lethal hands. Possessing speed, power and technique in equal measure, Belfort has put many a world-class opponent quickly to sleep.

Anthony Johnson is still maturing as a fighter, but the 27-year-old has proven himself dangerous both as a grappler and striker, with devastating power in his kicks and punches and strong enough wrestling to usually be able to dictate where the fight takes place. He’ll be making his middleweight debut against Belfort, presumably to benefit from cutting less weight to make the welterweight limit, where he usually competes.

Of note is the fact that Johnson tipped the scales today eleven pounds overweight, reportedly suffering from sudden onset illness that prevented him from completing what began a smooth weight cut.

Mark: Johnson missing weight as he did makes for another question mark heading into his middleweight debut. By all appearances, Rumble was looking better than ever for having stayed near a more natural weight, but now you have to wonder about his health and how having to monitor his rehydration tomorrow to remain at/under 205lbs. will affect him on fight night. Belfort is a tough draw on any night, let alone when you’re quite possibly distracted, ill, injured, or some combination of the three. Vitor Belfort via first-round submission

Dana: This is a huge opportunity for “Rumble” to make a quick impact on the UFC middleweight division. He has all the tools to become a contender here. However, Vitor Belfort will be fighting for his people of Brazil, and “The Phenom” feels like he still has one run in him for a chance at the UFC title. Look for Belfort to start a little slow, feeling out Johnson before using his big-fight experience to gain the win late. Vitor Belfort defeats Anthony Johnson via second round TKO