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Team Alpha Male: A Powerhouse Waiting To Be Crowned
Team Alpha Male (“TAM”) is the Sacramento based MMA fight club that plays home to a number of the UFC’s most notable fighters; at least through the fly, bantam and featherweight divisions.
Four of its members, Urijah Faber, Joseph Benavidez, Chad Mendes and Chris Holdsworth, the most recent winner of “The Ultimate Fighter” series, have been on a torrid pace through 2013, having collectively amassed nine straight wins in a row, and now they stand to do something truly remarkable; going on a championship roll.
Over the stretch of a two week period TAM has had or will have, beginning with Chris Holdsworth’s TUF 18 win and ending on December 14th with the UFC on Fox 9 card, the opportunity to take home a tournament title (check), the flyweight division championship, as well as place two other fighters (Faber & Mendez) in number one contender spots for the bantamweight and featherweight divisions, respectively.
By anyone’s account, that’s a heck of a 14 day run and if successful, will poise the club a mere two fights away from being the first team in UFC history to hold three championship titles at one time; a remarkable feet.
Can it be done?
The odds are probably long, but they’re not insurmountable. First, Joseph Benavidez must beat Demetrious Johnson and claim the flyweight belt. In his previous outing with Johnson back in September of last year (UFC 152), “Mighty Mouse” left Benavidez with the losing side of a split decision. Since the loss, Benavidez has gone 3 & 0, demonstrated a 66% finishing rate and has looked improved in all areas. Of the three belts that would be up for grabs, fly, bantam & featherweight, Johnson’s belt might be the easiest for TAM to seize.
The next hurdle for TAM on the 14th will be to secure the bantam and featherweight contender’s slots. To do that, Faber will have to beat Michael McDonald and Medes will have to best Nik Lentz.
On the face of it, it’s a reasonable expectation that this could well be done. Faber has it all over McDonald in terms of fight experience (35 – 18), the quality of opponents that he’s faced and the wars that he’s been in. Fans should not be shocked if Urijah closes out the year with his fourth straight win, and then subsequently draws the winner of Cruz / Barao.
As to Mendes, he looks as if he might have an easy night of it too, as he reaches down from his number one featherweight ranking, to take on number eight ranked Nik Lentz. Although Lentz is a four year UFC veteran with an 8 – 2 – 1 & 1 record (draw / no contest), he’s shown little in the way of stoppage ability, having culled only one submission & one TKO discontinuance, over his UFC tenure; 25% FR. Comparatively, “Money” has gone 6 & 1 in the UFC and has stopped his last four fights by either KO or TKO, bringing his UFC finishing rate up to a solid 75%. In a nutshell, it would probably be fair to say that Mendes should be able to walk out of the ring on the 14th with his ranking intact and looking at the winner of Aldo / Lamas.
As such, and if all things hold true for TAM in Sacramento come mid-month, TAM could easily be sitting around the breakfast table on the morning of the 15th with one title, two number one contenders slots and the men’s TUF 18 tournament win, and all in a span of two weeks; good for them.
Beyond that, there will be questions of rematches or matches with the likes of Dominick Cruz, Renan Barao, Jose Aldo or Ricardo Lamas for the team to contend with. And if TAM’s Faber and Mendes can somehow beat that murder’s row and claim those other two belts, then it would be hard to argue that the Duane “Bang” Ludwig led team wasn’t the best camp in all of MMA.
Outer Photo: Don McPeak for USA TODAY Sports