Junior dos Santos gets back on track and other notes from UFC Fight Night 86 and the U.S. Olympic Trials

Heading into UFC Fight Night 86, one of the biggest stories was the decline of former UFC heavyweight champion Junior dos Santos. However, on Sunday, he turned things around with a dominating five-round victory over the streaking Ben Rothwell. Per FightMetric, Dos Santos broke the records for most sig strikes landed in a heavyweight fight, most sig strikes landed to the body and most sig strikes landed over the course of a career for a heavyweight. For the fight, he finished with a 279 StrikeScore, which is his highest score since knocking out Mark Hunt in 2013.

That is the good news. The bad news is that prior to his second fight with Cain Velasquez, Dos Santos’ average StrikeScore was 1231. Even with the victory, his Rankings Momentum only improved two points and still stands at -24.7. Dos Santos needs to continue to turn out impressive performances in order to get back into the legitimate title picture.

Alejandro Perez scores highest StrikeScore of 2016
Despite closing as a +110 underdog, Perez put up one of the most ridiculous stat lines in recent MMA history. He landed 87 total strikes and 48 sig strikes while absorbing absolutely zero. He finished the fight via submission due to strikes in the first round. For the performance, Perez has supplanted Anthony Johnson and Chris Camozzi for the most efficient striking performance of the year. The Mexican fighters is now in the driver’s seat to take home the best striker of the month and year awards.

RankFighterOpponentEventDateStrikeScore
1Alejandro PerezIan EntwistleUFC Fight Night 864/10/201611800
2Anthony JohnsonRyan BaderUFC on Fox 181/30/20169500
2Chris CamozziJoe RiggsUFC Fight Night 832/21/20169500
4Derek BrunsonRoan CarneiroUFC Fight Night 832/21/20166800
5Damian StasiakFilip PejicUFC Fight Night 864/10/20166700
6Teemu PackalenThibault GoutiUFC Fight Night 842/27/20165900
7Oluwale BamgboseDaniel SarafianUFC Fight Night 832/21/20164800
8Sheldon WestcottEdgar GarciaUFC 1951/2/20163424
9Jason SaggoJustin SalasUFC 1963/5/20162173
10Derrick LewisDamian GrabowskiUFC Fight Night 822/6/20161539

Another interesting addition to the top-ten is Damian Stasiak’s first-round submission over Filip Pejic. Despite only attempting three strikes and landing two, Stasiak scored a whopping 6700. No statistical measure is perfect, and StrikeScore greatly rewards fighters who do not absorb punishment (Pejic landed zero strikes). In a way, taking your opponent down and working for a submission is the best striking defense you can employ.

Bojan Velickovic vs. Alessio Di Chirico Decision
Velickovic took home a unanimous decision victory over Di Chirico in the opening bout of the night. The judges scored it 29-28 (twice) and 30-27. However, of the 15 media scores tracked by MMADecisions, only four scored it for Velickovic. StrikeScore gives the striking advantage to Di Chirico in all three rounds.

The Bellator Three (Aaron Pico, Ed Ruth and Tyrell Fortune) Olympic Trials Recap
This past weekend at the U.S. Olympic Trials, three Bellator signings were in action. Aaron Pico, Ed Ruth and Tyrell Fortune all previously signed with the promotion with the intention of converting to MMA following their wrestling career. While none of the three ended up making the team, Pico, at only 19 years of age, made a lot of noise en route to coming up one match short of Rio 2016.

In his first match, Pico fell behind former Hodge Trophy winner (wrestling’s Heisman Trophy) Jayson Ness 9-0. If he had given up another point, Pico would have lost via technical fall. Instead, he rattled off 20 unanswered points to instead win with a technical fall. In the next round, he defeated two-time NCAA champion Jordan Oliver 11-9. In the semifinals, he scored a 12-1 technical fall over Reece Humphrey. The finals of the Olympic Trials is a best of three series. Pico defeated Frank Molinaro 4-2 in the first match before dropping the next two and finishing second.

Ruth scored a quick 10-0 tech fall over Deron Winn in the opening round. However, he then fell to Keith Gavin 15-8 and was eliminated from championship contention. Ruth then dropped out of the consolation bracket via injury default.

Fortune lost his first match to Dom Bradley. He then forfeited his way out of the competition.

Aaron Pico vs. Jayson Ness

Most Dominant Champions at the Freestyle U.S. Olympic Trials
The following wrestlers were the most dominant at their weight. The measure is Wrestler’s Pythagorean Expectation (WPE) you can read about it here.

WeightWrestlerWPE
57 kgDan Dennis96.68
65 kgFrank Molinaro71.91
74 kgJordan Burroughs97.57
86 kgJ'den Cox78.11
97 kgKyle Snyder88.69
125 kgTervel Dlagnev95.49