A rusty Jon Jones dominates OSP plus other notes from UFC 197 and Bellator 153

One of the big stories coming out of UFC 197 was that Jon Jones did not look like himself. He went to a five-round decision victory over late replacement fight Ovince Saint Preux and claimed the interim light heavyweight title. However, many fans and pundits seemed to echo the thoughts of UFC president Dana White who said, “Jones looked rusty tonight and it was a really good thing for him that it was OSP tonight, the sixth-ranked guy, and not Cormier.”

Due mostly to expectations, Jones is expected to mop the floor with everyone who is not a future hall of famer. One of the most common predictions for the fight was a first-round knockout despite the fact that Jones has only scored one knockout since winning the light heavyweight title in 2011.

The question is, did Jones perform below his standards or are onlookers dealing with a case of outsized expectations?

Since winning the title over Mauricio “Shogun” Rua in 2011, Jones has fought nine times. He has won all nine of these bouts and scored finishes in four. To attempt to answer this question, we will use StrikeScore, a proprietary stat that measures striking efficiency, to gauge his performance. 

The following chart shows, Jones’ Strikeforce for all bouts inside the range. The horizontal line represents the average of these scores.

As you can see, Jones’ performance was below the average of his last nine bouts. However, it is not drastically out of sync with his recent performances. In fact, against Saint Preux, Jones scored higher than he did against Cormier, Gustafsson and Machida. The standard deviation for this period of performance 96.44, which means that the performance against Saint Preux is solidly in the norm for Jones.

Of course, as White indicated, Saint Preux is not the type of fighter that Jones normally faces. During this stretch, Jones had only faced fighters ranked in the top six of the Fight Matrix rankings prior to last Saturday night, and Saint Preux was ranked 13th on Saturday night.

So to conclude, Jones’ performance was not an outlier. However, fans and pundits seem to have expected an above average performance due to the fact that he was facing a lesser ranked opponent for the first time in years. Either way, he should be more than up to the challenge presented by Daniel Cormier when the two rematch later this year.

‘Pezao’ dominates Clint Hester, enters 2016 StrikeScore Top Ten
Anytime you land 84 strikes against an opponent while only absorbing one, you are having a good day. Marcos Rogerio de Lima did just that in his victory over Clint Hester. The performance was good enough for a 9800 StrikeScore, which is the second highest score awarded this year.

Top Striking Performance 2016

1Alejandro PerezIan EntwistleUFC Fight Night 864/10/201611800
2Marcos Rogerio de LimaClint HesterUFC 1974/23/20169800
3Anthony JohnsonRyan BaderUFC on Fox 181/30/20169500
3Chris CamozziJoe RiggsUFC Fight Night 832/21/20169500
5Derek BrunsonRoan CarneiroUFC Fight Night 832/21/20166800
6Damian StasiakFilip PejicUFC Fight Night 864/10/20166700
7Teemu PackalenThibault GoutiUFC Fight Night 842/27/20165900
8Oluwale BamgboseDaniel SarafianUFC Fight Night 832/21/20164800
9Sheldon WestcottEdgar GarciaUFC 1951/2/20163424
10Jason SaggoJustin SalasUFC 1963/5/20162173

The decline of Anthony Pettis
Since successfully defend the lightweight title against Gilbert Melendez, Pettis has dropped three-straight fights. In some ways, his loss to Edson Barboza at UFC 197 was the most disheartening. Against Eddie Alvarez, Pettis still had the advantage striking and Rafael dos Anjos did a lot of work on the floor. However, Barboza remained standing with Pettis and thoroughly dominated him. Pettis finished with a 48 StrikeScore, while Barboza registered a 174.

Benson Henderson fizzles in Bellator debut
In the Bellator 153 Fight Forecast, we pointed out that while Henderson is still a high level fighter, he has been experience negative Rankings Momentum for some time. That trend continued on Friday as he fell to Andrey Koreshkov via a one-sided decision.

Cyborg’ pulls the upset
Prior to Friday night, Evangelista Santos was unranked by Fight Matrix and had gone 2-3 in his last five fights. Brennan Ward was trying to position himself as the man to face the main event winner. Instead, “Cyborg” finished the fight in 30 seconds with a heel hook. The victory jumped him up to 65th in Fight Matrix rankings, which is his highest ranking since 2012.