UFC 198 Fight Forecast

On Saturday, the UFC returns with UFC 198. In the main event, heavyweight champion Fabricio Werdum defends his title against Stipe Miocic. 

One of the most interesting aspects of Werdum’s MMA career has been his continual improvement. After beginning his career as a one-dimensional grappler, he has morphed into a fighter capable of knocking out Mark Hunt and forcing Cain Velasquez to shoot for takedowns.

Werdum’s improvement is most noteworthy in terms of his ability to land significant strikes. During his current UFC run, the Brazilian is landing 5.61 sig strikes per minute. To put that number into perspective, that is only slightly behind the UFC career number for bantamweight slugger John Lineker (5.62).

Not only is that an impressive level of striking output for a heavyweight, but it also more than double the number of sig strikes per minute Werdum was landing during his runs in Pride FC and Strikeforce as well as his first stint in the UFC.

Earlier in his career, Werdum would have most likely struggled against a guy he could not drag to the ground. However, now he appears more than capable in multiple facets of MMA. No matter what happens on Saturday against Stipe Miocic, more fighters should follow the Werdum model and continue to craft their fight game.

Fight Forecast
StrikeScore is a proprietary stat that measures striking efficiency. The formula uses Fightmetric data, so fighters without fights in the database are not included. Also, a fighter must have at least three fights in the database before the formula can considered at all predictive.

UFC Fantasy numbers are the percent of players who have picked each fighter to win. (Numbers are current as of 5/13/2016 4:30 PM EST)

Odds is the betting line of 5Dimes taken from BestFightOdds.com. (Numbers are current as of 5/13/2016 4:30 PM EST)

DraftKings prices listed below are the dollar value used for the fantasy game.

Fight Matrix column represents the fighter's current unbiased and objective ranking.

In this case, the period used for Rankings Momentum was 7/1/2014 to 4/1/2016. The stat provides a measure of how a fighter has improved or declined in terms of the Fight Matrix rankings over the past two years.

*Fighters with less than 3 bouts in FightMetric database

*Fighters with less than 3 bouts in FightMetric database

Other Notes:

Near Lock for Fight of the Night
Rob Font lands 5.55 sig strikes per minute and has finished all of his bouts in the UFC by knockout. Standing across the cage will be John Lineker who lands 5.62 sig strikes per minute has scored four knockouts in nine UFC fights. Expect fireworks.

Just Scrap
Hawaiian MMA pioneer B.J. Penn always promoted the "Just Scrap" philosophy. His fellow islander Yancy Medeiros seems to be a true believer. Over the course of his UFC career, he has absorbed over half of his opponents' strikes and nearly eaten a strike for every one that he lands.

Brazilian Ironman
There might not be much fanfare, but Francisco Trinaldo is riding a five-fight winning streak. On Saturday, he will fight in the UFC for the 13th time. Of his 13 fights, 10 will have taken place in his native Brazil.

Marquardt Decline
We wrote about the decline of Nate Marquardt prior to his last bout. Even though we seem to have jumped the gun, it is still nearing the end of his career. Prior to 2013, he had fought 44 times and suffered only one knockout. Since 2013, he has fought seven times and been knocked out thrice.

Cyborg World
The StrikeScore list above for Cristiane "Cyborg" Santos is based only on her Strikeforce and Elite XC bouts. It would actually be much higher if it included data from Invicta FC. In her five bouts for the promotion, she has picked up knockouts in all five. Her cumulative fight time was only a little bit over 32 minutes with 19 coming in her longest fight against Marloes Coenen.