UFC 207 Fight Forecast

Fight Forecast previews the event by providing the fighter's career StrikeScore as well as UFC Fantasy predictions, betting odds, DraftKings prices and Fight Matrix rankings.

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 and Tapology numbers are the percent of players who have picked each fighter to win. (Numbers are current as of Dec. 30 at 10:45 a.m. ET)

Odds is the betting line of 5Dimes taken from BestFightOdds.com. (Numbers are current as of Dec. 30 at 10:45 a.m. ET)

DraftKings prices listed below are the dollar value used for the fantasy game. Also listed are the average points scored by the fighter in the fantasy game. For a breakdown of DraftKings scoring click here.

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

In this case, the period used for Rankings Momentum was 1/1/2015 to 10/1/2016. Fighters must have been ranked in at least four quarters during the period to be included. 

Michael Bisping's shocking knockout and other notes from UFC 199

Michael Bisping’s title claiming upset over Luke Rockhold was one of the biggest upsets in UFC title fight history. However, the way that the fight ending is perhaps even more surprising. Over the course of his 26-fight UFC career, Bisping has scored 10 knockouts. That is not a terrible knockout rate. With that being said, a lot of the finishes were the result of an accumulation of strikes. Going into Saturday night, Bisping was landing a knockout for every 133 sig strikes landed.

Against Rockhold, Bisping needed only 21 strikes to turn the lights out and take the belt. That is the fewest sig strikes Bisping has landed in a knockout victory since he bested Eric Schafer in 2006. The Rockhold finish is also the fastest Bisping knockout in his UFC career. Finally, Rockhold had the highest Fight Matrix peak ranking of any of Bisping’s knockout victims.

To come close to Dominick Cruz, you need to throw… a lot
Only one opponent in the UFC has landed over 30 percent of their sig strikes against Cruz, Demetrious Johnson (35). While Cruz’s constant motion forces opponents to constantly miss strikes, he still lands at a relatively solid percentage for an outside striker. If fighters want to match him in the standup, they are forced to throw an excessive number of strikes. On Saturday, Faber was outlanded by 53 strikes. Not only was he landing at a lower rate, he also attempted 101 fewer strikes. In the UFC, the fighter who has come the closest to matching Cruz in terms of landed strikes is T.J. Dillashaw. In their January meeting, Dillashaw landed 109 sig strikes compared to Cruz’s 112. To get that close, Dillashaw had to attempt 430 strikes, which is 118 more than Cruz on that night.

StrikeScore Boxscore
StrikeScore is a proprietary stat that measures striking efficiency. You can read more about it here. At UFC 199, Beneil Dariush took home the highest score of the night for his knockout over James Vick. None of the performances were strong enough to crack the top ten of 2016.

UFC 199 Fight Forecast

In the main event of UFC 199, Luke Rockhold will look to defend his middleweight title against Michael Bisping. The two faced off for the first time at UFC Fight Night 55. On that night, Rockhold scored a second-round guillotine choke submission. In addition to the submission finish, Rockhold had the edge in the striking game. He finished with a 225 SS+, while Bisping had only a 30.

Not only did Rockhold out-perform Bisping in the striking game, he was also not at his best. His 225 SS+ performance is actually below his average (302) over his last 10 fights.

Bisping also performed below his average. While Rockhold was 77 points under, Bisping was 109 points below his average score.

With news breaking that Rockhold might not be a 100 percent due to a knee injury, Bisping might become a more attractive underdog. However, from a striking perspective at least, Rockhold has already proven that he can win without being at his best.

Dominick Cruz is a favorite across the board
If we look at the new StrikeScore Composite Prediction, Cruz is a huge favorite over his rival Urijah Faber. The Composite prediction is an average of the scaled metrics including StrikeScore, UFC Fantasy, Tapology, betting odds, DraftKings and Fight Matrix. Cruz is the favorite 73 to 27 percent.

Scaled Cruz vs. Faber III Predicitions

Fight Forecast
Fight Forecast previews the event by providing the fighter's career StrikeScore as well as UFC Fantasy predictions, betting odds, DraftKings prices and Fight Matrix rankings. In the following table, predicted winners are in blue and predicted losers are in red. 

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 and Tapology numbers are the percent of players who have picked each fighter to win. (Numbers are current as of 6/3/2016 3:00 PM EST)

Odds is the betting line of 5Dimes taken from BestFightOdds.com. (Numbers are current as of 6/3/2016 3:00 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.

*Fighter with less than 3 fights in FightMetric database **Ranking at welterweight ^Ranking at bantamweight ^^Ranking at light heavyweight

*Fighter with less than 3 fights in FightMetric database
**Ranking at welterweight
^Ranking at bantamweight
^^Ranking at light heavyweight

Dominick Cruz and T.J. Dillashaw push judging system to the limit

In a lot of ways, Cruz’s style is the perfect one for StrikeScore. He lands at a relatively high percentage and avoids a ridiculous amount of his opponents’ strikes. Last Sunday, Cruz avoided 74 percent of Dillashaw’s strikes. That number is rather incredible. However, it is almost unbelievable that going into the fight, his strike avoidance rate was 76 percent.

Dillashaw, who had previously landed 5.81 sig strikes per minute in his UFC career, was held to only 4.36 per minute against Cruz. Despite the loss, Dillashaw was much more successful than Cruz’s previous opponents. Going into the fight, Cruz had absorbed only 1.87 strikes per minute. After 25 minutes with Dillashaw, that number jumped all the way up to 2.18,

Going into the fight, we highlighted Cruz’s defense as more vital to his style than offensive output. While this seems to still hold true, last Sunday, Cruz landed at a much higher rate than his previous norm. He put up 4.48 sig strikes per minute at a 37 percent clip, which beats his previous career numbers of 3.40 sig strikes per minute at a 30 percent landing rate.

Cruz vs. Dillashaw StrikeScore By Round

Alvarez vs. Pettis highlight MMA judging quirks
The fight between former lightweight champions presented an interesting case study of sorts for MMA judging. First, let’s look at the rules. According to the updated Unified Rules of MMA, effective striking and effective grappling are both supposed to be given equal weight, while Cage/Ring Control is “a secondary criteria to be used when effective striking and effective grappling are even.”

Pettis had the StrikeScore advantage in rounds one and two. Alvarez landed three takedowns in rounds one and three, but he went 0-4 in the second round. The definition of effective grappling does include “successful executions of a legal takedown.” So ultimately the question is, do judges favor takedowns over a slight edge in the striking battle. In this case the answer was yes. The MMA media scores were pretty closely divided as eight score for Alvarez and nine scored for Pettis.

Eddie Alvarez vs. Anthony Pettis StrikeScore by Round

Hard to tell the story of Browne vs. Mitrione without mentioning eye pokes
It is hard to quantify the effects of the eye pokes on Matt Mitrione. However, the following chart display it quite well. What started out as a close striking exchange, turned into a one-sided beatdown in round three.

Browne vs. Mitrione StrikeScore by Round

Quick Hits:
Patrick Cote picked up his 10th career knockout and a 547 StrikeScore against Ben Saunders
Ed Herman scored his first knockout victory since stopping Tim Credeur in 2011
Chris Wade scored the highest StrikeScore of the night with a 590 performance over Medhi Baghdad
Ilir Latifi only need 2 strikes to finish Sean O’Connell in the first round
Rob Font outlanded Joey Gomez 33 to 2 in round two of their fight

Updated Top Ten Striking Performance of 2016

RankFighterOpponentEventDateStrikeScore
1Sheldon WestcottEdgar GarciaUFC 1951/2/20163424
2Chris WadeMehdi BaghdadUFC FN 811/17/2016590
3Rob FontJoey GomezUFC FN 811/17/2016570
4Patrick CoteBen SaundersUFC FN 811/17/2016547
5Masanori KaneharaMichael McDonaldUFC 1951/2/2016432
6Ilir LatifiSean O'ConnellUFC FN 811/17/2016400
7Ed HermanTim BoetschUFC FN 811/17/2016310
8Diego BrandaoBrian OrtegaUFC 1951/2/2016289
9Travis BrowneMatt MitrioneUFC FN 811/17/2016289
10Stipe MiocicAndrei ArlovskiUFC 1951/2/2016283

UFC Boston: Predicting Dillashaw vs. Cruz

At this point, there are few things more difficult than predicting a Dominick Cruz fight. In the past four-plus years he has fought exactly once. During that time, he has had at least three ACL replacement surgeries. His only fight during the span was so wildly different than anything previously in his Zuffa career. On Sunday, he challenges champion T.J. Dillashaw for the bantamweight title. Which Cruz will show up? Will Cruz even show up?

Where did Cruz’s power come from?
Prior to facing Takeya Mizugaki at UFC 178, Cruz had won only one fight via stoppage in his Zuffa career. Plus, that one stoppage occurred when Brian Bowles was unable to continue with a broken hand. Against Mizugaki, Cruz blasted the respected veteran and finished the fight in 61 seconds. For the performance, Cruz earned a 1670 StrikeScore, which eclipsed his previous high of 418 (against Bowles). Before the Mizugaki fight, Cruz landed 555 significant strikes (per FightMetric) and never landed a knock down or legitimate knockout. Mizugaki had never been knocked out and has not been since. Did Cruz find the fountain of power during his medical sabbatical or did he just land directly on the button?

Career StrikeScore favors Dillashaw, but...
The champion holds a 298 to 216 Career StrikeScore advantage going into this fight. However, Cruz has faced a much tougher schedule. The average Fight Matrix Highest Quarterly Ranking of Cruz’s opponents is 9, while the average of Dillashaw’s opponents is 20. Other than Ivan Lopez (76th), Cruz not faced an opponent with a peak rating lower than 5th during his Zuffa career.

With that being said, Dillashaw has actually performed better since he began taking steps up in competition. In his last four fights, all of his opponents have had peak ratings of 20th or higher. 

PythagScore favors Cruz
Cruz has the advantage in PythagScore by a 99.6 to 93.2 margin. However, once again, there is a caveat. The formula based on a combination of StrikeScore and Bill James’ Pythagorean Expectations severely penalizes fighters for knockout losses. If we remove Dillashaw’s loss to Jon Dodson in his UFC debut, his PythagScore jumps to 99.8.

Dillashaw’s recent domination
For his last three title fights, Dillashaw has put up StrikeScores of 414, 350 and 350. Prior to this recent run, he had never had a three-fight stretch of scores over 300. Cruz has never had such a stretch in his career. In fact, the former champion only has three StrikeScore performances over the course of his career in Zuffa: Bowles (418), Scott Jorgensen (358) and Mizugaki (1670).

The under the radar wrestling battle
Despite his reputation for being a new wave striking savant, Cruz has always relied on his underrated wrestling game to seal rounds. He length advantage over a lot of fighters in the bantamweight division allows him to shoot without setups and dominate fighters with upper body throws. The wrestling battle will probably end up being a bigger battle than most people think. Cruz has landed 56 percent of his takedown attempts in his Zuffa career, while Dillashaw has never been taken down.

Good offense vs. good defense
Ever since Dillashaw won the belt, pundits have been comparing the striking styles of these two fighters. Sure, they both move around a lot, but they are both successful in entirely different ways.

Dillashaw is a hyper offensive fighter. He landes 5.81 sig strikes per minute (4th best all time) at a 44 percent clip. On the other hand, Cruz landes only 3.40 sig strikes per minute at a 30 percent clip.

Cruz excels on the defensive side. He absorbs only 1.87 strikes per minute while avoiding 76 percent of his opponent’s strikes. The current record holder for avoiding opponents strikes is Ryan Bader with 72.5 percent. Cruz does not qualify for the record because he does not have a minimum of five UFC fights.

T.J. Dillashaw UFC Career StrikeScore
Dominick Cruz UFC/WEC Career StrikeScore