Last Saturday at UFC 201, the welterweight title changed hands, a number-one contender in the women's strawweight division was decided and a heavyweight scored the highest StrikeScore of UFC his career. Let's look back at the card.
Tyron Woodley (411) vs. Robbie Lawler (-93)
Despite the long layoff and a seemingly unstoppable opponent, Woodley was able to claim the belt via knockout in the first round. Since coming over to the UFC in 2013, power has been an essential part of the former Missouri wrestler’s success. In the Octagon, he has finished five of eight opponents via stoppage and is only 1-2 in the bouts that go to decision. As champion, Woodley’s next fight will be scheduled for five rounds, which is a double edged sword. On one hand, he will have more time to catch his opponent, but on flipside he has fought past round three only once in his career.
Not only did Lawler’s title reign come to an end, but Woodley also ended the former champion’s run of back and forth grueling fights. Going into UFC 201, Lawler had not been knocked out since falling to Nick Diaz in 2004. The -93 StrikeScore is also his lowest since the Diaz fight. Lawler had also absorbed more strikes over his last six fights than his did in his previous 22 for UFC/Pride/Strikeforce/Elite XC. Hopefully for fans of his incredible fights, the knockout is not a sign of an impending decline in Lawler’s ability to take punishment.
Karolina Kowalkiewicz (91) vs. Rose Namajunas (125)
Kowalkiewicz took the decision despite registering a lower StrikeScore than Namajunas. The Polish fighter outlanded her opponent in terms of significant strikes 84 to 70, but Namajunas was much more accurate. However, once the score is broken down by round, it shows that Kowalkiewicz clearly deserved to win after taking the final two rounds
Kowalkiewicz vs. Namajunas StrikeScore by Round
With the victory, Kowalkiewicz is set to become the next challenger to Joanna Jędrzejczyk’s title. The victory over Namajunas was impressive, but the performance does not really inspire a lot of hope for a bout against the champion. At UFC 201, Kowalkiewicz did her best striking work in the clinch and on the ground. In round two, she landed 30 of her 44 significant strikes in the clinch. In the final round, she landed 16 of her 25 significant strikes in the clinch and on the ground. Not only is Jędrzejczyk extremely hard to take down, but she finds ways to force a distance striking battle over the a 25-minute fight. That type of fighting certainly will favor the champion.
Jake Ellenberger (449) vs. Matt Brown (-99)
Despite being known for throwing with power, Ellenberger had not scored a knockout finish since 2013. Since that victory over Nate Marquardt, he had gone 1-5 in the UFC. Against Brown, Ellenberger showed that he is still a dangerous fighter. One overlooked aspect of his performance was his ability to continue fighting after his first post-knockdown salvo. In many previous fights, Ellenberger has gassed out and struggled to continue.
Erik Perez (98) vs. Francisco Rivera (102)
This fight is another example of the final StrikeScore not telling the whole story. After a solid first round, he was outworked in the following two rounds.
Perez vs. Rivera StrikeScore by Round
This is probably the biggest win in Perez’s career. However, one issue was his ability to generate power from the top position in round three. Rivera was exhausted and holding on for the final bell. In the round, mostly spent on top, Perez landed 98 total strikes but only 16 were considered significant. If he would have been able to score with stronger punches from the top, he would have likely finished Rivera.
Ryan Benoit (188) vs. Fredy Serrano (39)
Serrano was able to land five of 14 takedowns in the fight, but he really did not have much else. Benoit did a good job of getting back to his feet and winning the striking battle in rounds one and three. Serrano, as a freestyle wrestler, does not have as much of a background in holding opponents down the way an American collegiate wrestler would. Plus, the advantage that wrestlers usually have in MMA seems to be minimized at lower weight classes as smaller fighters are more quick and athletic when it comes to getting back up.
Nikita Krylov (337) vs. Ed Herman (-63)
Krylov joined the UFC as the #205 heavyweight per Fight Matrix. He has gone on to go 6-2 in the promotion and score stoppages in all his victories. He has reached #15 light heavyweight in the newest rankings release. During his UFC career, Krylov has outlanded his opponents 238 to 125.
Jorge Masvidal (236) vs. Ross Pearson (30)
From an output perspective, Masvidal had the best striking night of his UFC career. Against Pearson, “Gamebred” landed 7.53 sig strikes per minute, which is significantly higher than his career number of 4.09. Masvidal is now 2-2 since moving up to welterweight, but two of those fights have come against fighters who normally compete at lightweight.
Anthony Hamilton (1070) vs. Damian Grabowski (-130)
Hamilton’s 1070 StrikeScore was the highest of the night. It is also the highest of his UFC career. The performance raised his average StrikeScore from 220 to 362. Interestingly enough, the 14-second knockout was not the fastest of his career. In 2012, he finished Mike Riddell in only seven seconds.
Grabowski has been ranked as high as #12 in the Fight Matrix rankings, but he has not put his best foot forward in the UFC. In his two Octagon fights, he has been knocked out in a total time of 2:31.
Wilson Reis (112) vs. Hector Sandoval (101)
Reis is obviously a high-level grappler, but this victory over Sandoval was only his second submission victory in the UFC. Prior to joining the, Reis had scored submissions in 50 percent of his wins.
Michael Graves (108) vs. Bojan Velickovic (153)
The majority of tracked media members believe that Graves deserved to win this fight. He controlled the final two rounds, while Velickovic struggled to do much of anything. With that being said, Graves needs more than ground control to win in the UFC. In his last two bouts, he has landed 0.75 sig strikes per minute, which is not going to get it done against higher level opposition.
Damien Brown (213) vs. Cesar Arzamendia (-3)
Brown bounced back from his debut loss in the UFC, to score a highlight reel knockout over Arzamendia. Brown landed more strikes in this short fight than he did in the entire fight against Alan Patrick. With Arzamendia’s loss, veterans of the two seasons of “The Ultimate Fighter: Latin America” are now 26-23 in the UFC