Dominick Cruz and T.J. Dillashaw push judging system to the limit

In a lot of ways, Cruz’s style is the perfect one for StrikeScore. He lands at a relatively high percentage and avoids a ridiculous amount of his opponents’ strikes. Last Sunday, Cruz avoided 74 percent of Dillashaw’s strikes. That number is rather incredible. However, it is almost unbelievable that going into the fight, his strike avoidance rate was 76 percent.

Dillashaw, who had previously landed 5.81 sig strikes per minute in his UFC career, was held to only 4.36 per minute against Cruz. Despite the loss, Dillashaw was much more successful than Cruz’s previous opponents. Going into the fight, Cruz had absorbed only 1.87 strikes per minute. After 25 minutes with Dillashaw, that number jumped all the way up to 2.18,

Going into the fight, we highlighted Cruz’s defense as more vital to his style than offensive output. While this seems to still hold true, last Sunday, Cruz landed at a much higher rate than his previous norm. He put up 4.48 sig strikes per minute at a 37 percent clip, which beats his previous career numbers of 3.40 sig strikes per minute at a 30 percent landing rate.

Cruz vs. Dillashaw StrikeScore By Round

Alvarez vs. Pettis highlight MMA judging quirks
The fight between former lightweight champions presented an interesting case study of sorts for MMA judging. First, let’s look at the rules. According to the updated Unified Rules of MMA, effective striking and effective grappling are both supposed to be given equal weight, while Cage/Ring Control is “a secondary criteria to be used when effective striking and effective grappling are even.”

Pettis had the StrikeScore advantage in rounds one and two. Alvarez landed three takedowns in rounds one and three, but he went 0-4 in the second round. The definition of effective grappling does include “successful executions of a legal takedown.” So ultimately the question is, do judges favor takedowns over a slight edge in the striking battle. In this case the answer was yes. The MMA media scores were pretty closely divided as eight score for Alvarez and nine scored for Pettis.

Eddie Alvarez vs. Anthony Pettis StrikeScore by Round

Hard to tell the story of Browne vs. Mitrione without mentioning eye pokes
It is hard to quantify the effects of the eye pokes on Matt Mitrione. However, the following chart display it quite well. What started out as a close striking exchange, turned into a one-sided beatdown in round three.

Browne vs. Mitrione StrikeScore by Round

Quick Hits:
Patrick Cote picked up his 10th career knockout and a 547 StrikeScore against Ben Saunders
Ed Herman scored his first knockout victory since stopping Tim Credeur in 2011
Chris Wade scored the highest StrikeScore of the night with a 590 performance over Medhi Baghdad
Ilir Latifi only need 2 strikes to finish Sean O’Connell in the first round
Rob Font outlanded Joey Gomez 33 to 2 in round two of their fight

Updated Top Ten Striking Performance of 2016

RankFighterOpponentEventDateStrikeScore
1Sheldon WestcottEdgar GarciaUFC 1951/2/20163424
2Chris WadeMehdi BaghdadUFC FN 811/17/2016590
3Rob FontJoey GomezUFC FN 811/17/2016570
4Patrick CoteBen SaundersUFC FN 811/17/2016547
5Masanori KaneharaMichael McDonaldUFC 1951/2/2016432
6Ilir LatifiSean O'ConnellUFC FN 811/17/2016400
7Ed HermanTim BoetschUFC FN 811/17/2016310
8Diego BrandaoBrian OrtegaUFC 1951/2/2016289
9Travis BrowneMatt MitrioneUFC FN 811/17/2016289
10Stipe MiocicAndrei ArlovskiUFC 1951/2/2016283