Bellator 183 Fight Forecast

Fight Forecast is a recurring series at StrikeScoreMMA.com that provides a stats based preview of upcoming events. Since striking stats are not available outside the UFC, we need to get a bit creative. The following uses Fight Matrix rankings, peak rank, Tapology user votes, betting odds and Rankings Momentum.

In this case, the period used for Rankings Momentum was 10/1/2015 to 7/1/2017. Fighters must have been ranked in at least four quarters during the period to be includedTapology scores are as of Sept. 22 at 9:30 a.m. ET. Betting odds are from 5Dimes as of Sept. 22 at 9:30 a.m. ET.

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Bellator 180/NYC Fight Forecast

Fight Forecast is a recurring series at StrikeScoreMMA.com that provides a stats based preview of upcoming events. Since striking stats are not available outside the UFC, we need to get a bit creative. The following uses Fight Matrix rankings, peak rank, Tapology user votes, betting odds and Rankings Momentum.

In this case, the period used for Rankings Momentum was 7/1/2015 to 4/1/2017. Fighters must have been ranked in at least four quarters during the period to be includedTapology scores are as of June 23 at 10:30 a.m. ET. Betting odds are from 5Dimes as of June 23 at 10:30 a.m. ET.

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

Previewing Bellator Prospects at the U.S. Olympic Trials

Bellator President Scott Coker has not been afraid to try anything since signing on with the promotion in 2014. One of his unique ideas was signing a trio of Olympic hopeful wrestlers who would debut upon completion of their wrestling careers. This weekend, the three signees, Aaron Pico, Ed Ruth and Tyrell Fortune will take to the mats to attempt to qualify for the 2016 U.S. Olympic freestyle wrestling team. The two-day tournament which takes place April 9-10 will air live and free on NBCSports.com. The Saturday and Sunday finals will air on NBCSN.

The following is a breakdown of the Bellator signings’ path to making the team and some of the biggest potential roadblocks.

Aaron Pico (65 kg)
After only one season of high school wrestling, Pico signed with the Zinkin Entertainment management team. The move essentially constituted turning professional and thus eliminated the option of wrestling in high school or college. Less than a year later, he signed with Bellator.

So far in his career, Pico has claimed a Cadet World Championship and picked up a pair of Junior World medals.  This past year on the senior level, he has picked up bronze medals at the Alexander Medved International and the Bill Farrell International.

Pico, who is still only 19 years old, earned a spot in the trials with a four place finish at the U.S. Nationals. He reached the semifinals with a 10-3 victory over two-time NCAA champion Kellen Russell. In the next round, Pico was forced to the consolation bracket by four-time NCAA champion Logan Stieber.

The trials bracket will also include a trio of 2015 world team members. Since the Olympics features fewer weight classes than the world championships, Brent Metcalf, Reece Humphrey and world bronze medalist James Green will all compete for the single spot at 65 kg. Metcalf and Humphrey both hold recent victories over Pico.

Qualified Wrestlers:
2015 World Team member – Brent Metcalf
2015 World Team member – Reece Humphrey
2015 World Team member – James Green
2015 Bill Farrell International champion – Jordan Oliver
2015 U.S. Nationals/Olympic Trials Qualifier champion – Jimmy Kennedy
2015 U.S. Nationals/Olympic Trials Qualifier runner-up – Logan Stieber
2015 U.S. Nationals/Olympic Trials Qualifier fourth place – Aaron Pico
2015 U.S. Nationals/Olympic Trials Qualifier fifth place – Kellen Russell
2015 U.S. Nationals/Olympic Trials Qualifier sixth place – Frank Molinaro
2015 U.S. Nationals/Olympic Trials Qualifier seventh place – Jason Chamberlain
2016 Dave Schultz Memorial champion – Jayson Ness
2016 NCAA Div. I champion – Dean Heil
2016 NCAA Div. I champion – Zain Retherford
2016 Last Chance Olympic Trials Qualifier champion – Bernard Futrell

Aaron Pico vs. Zain Retherford

Ed Ruth (86 kg)
The three-time NCAA champion for Penn State  is looking to get back on the national team at 86 kg after making the world team in 2014 but losing in the trials final to 2009 world silver medalist Jake Herbert in 2015. It will not be an easy task. The dominance of Olympic champion Jordan Burroughs at 74 kg has forced two of the nation’s best, Kyle Dake and Ruth’s collegiate teammate David Taylor to move up to 86 kg. It is suddenly an extremely crowded bracket.

Last November, Ruth won the Bill Farrell International to qualify for the trials. He has since finished second at the Henri Deglane Challenge and eighth at the U.S. Nationals. At Nationals, he dropped a pair of matches Taylor and Clayton Foster who is also competing at the trials.

With recent losses to three trials competitors, Ruth might struggle to win the bracket that now also includes 2016 NCAA champion J’den Cox.

Qualified Wrestlers:
2015 World Team member – Jake Herbert
2015 Bill Farrell International champion – Ed Ruth
2015 U.S. Nationals/Olympic Trials Qualifier champion – Kyle Dake
2015 U.S. Nationals/Olympic Trials Qualifier runner-up – David Taylor
2015 U.S. Nationals/Olympic Trials Qualifier third place – Keith Gavin
2015 U.S. Nationals/Olympic Trials Qualifier fourth place – Jon Reader
2015 U.S. Nationals/Olympic Trials Qualifier fifth place – Richard Perry
2015 U.S. Nationals/Olympic Trials Qualifier sixth place – Clayton Foster
2015 U.S. Nationals/Olympic Trials Qualifier seventh place – Tyler Caldwell
2016 Dave Schultz Memorial champion – Austin Trotman
2016 NCAA Div. I champion – Myles Martin
2016 NCAA Div. I champion – Gabe Dean
2016 NCAA Div. I champion – J’den Cox
2016 Last Chance Olympic Trials Qualifier champion – Deron Winn

Ed Ruth vs. Reineris Salas Perez

Tyrell Fortune (125 kg)
In college, Fortune won a pair of junior college national championships. He then transferred to Grand Canyon where he won an NCAA Division II title. In 2013, he won a bronze medal at the World University Games in Greco-Roman.

Despite his athletic pedigree and accomplishments, Fortune will have a hard time making the Olympic team as he has struggled against several of the competitors in the field. At the 2015 World Team Trials, he dropped matches to Dom Bradley and two-time NCAA champion Nick Gwiazdowski. At the Bill Farrell International, Anthony Nelson twice defeated Fortune.However, they met again in the semifinals of the U.S. Nationals, and Fortune defeated Nelson 2-1. In the finals, Fortune fell once again to Bradley. 

Qualified Wrestlers:
2015 World Team member – Zach Rey
2014 World medalist – Tervel Dlagnev
2015 Bill Farrell International champion – Nick Gwiazdowski
2015 U.S. Nationals/Olympic Trials Qualifier champion – Dom Bradley
2015 U.S. Nationals/Olympic Trials Qualifier runner-up – Tyrell Fortune
2015 U.S. Nationals/Olympic Trials Qualifier third place – Bobby Telford
2015 U.S. Nationals/Olympic Trials Qualifier fourth place – Anthony Nelson
2015 U.S. Nationals/Olympic Trials Qualifier fifth place – Eric Thompson
2015 U.S. Nationals/Olympic Trials Qualifier sixth place – Connor Medbery
2015 U.S. Nationals/Olympic Trials Qualifier seventh place – Justin Grant
2016 Dave Schultz Memorial champion – Matt Meuleners

Tyrell Fortune vs. Tony Nelson