For RotoWire: Fight Stat Wrap: UFC 218 Recap

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UFC 218 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. 1 at 2:10 p.m. ET)

Odds is the betting line of 5Dimes taken from BestFightOdds.com. (Numbers are current as of Dec. 1 at 2:10 p.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 1/1/2016 to 10/1/2017. Fighters must have been ranked in at least four quarters during the period to be included. 

*Fewer than three fights in the FightMetric

*Fewer than three fights in the FightMetric

Luan Chagas finishes with highest StrikeScore at UFC 212

Luan Chagas was entirely dominant on Saturday night. He landed 95 significant strikes (9.69 per minute) and absorbed only 32 from Jimmy Wallhead. His 497 StrikeScore narrowly edged out Matthew Lopez (410) for the most efficient striking performance of the night. While Lopez landed at a higher rate and with a better percentage, Chagas performed better compared to his opponent. Since StrikeScore measures how a fighter differentiates himself/herself for an opponent, Chagas took the higher score.

UFC 212 Fight Forecast

As you can see below, both Claudia Gadelha and Karolina Kowalkiewicz both have relatively low StrikeScores. Gadelha's career number currently stands at 96, while Kowalkiewicz's score is all the way down at 69. How could two accomplished strikers have such low scores? The answer is Joanna Jedrzejczyk. Without their fights against the champion listed, Gadelha bounces up to 224, and Kowalkiewicz ends up with a 146. As you can see in the following chart, both fighters struggled against Jedrzejczyk.

Gadelha StrikeScore

Kowalkiewicz StrikeScore

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 June 2 at 10:30 a.m. ET)

Odds is the betting line of 5Dimes taken from BestFightOdds.com. (Numbers are current as of June 2 at 10:30 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 7/1/2015 to 4/1/2017. Fighters must have been ranked in at least four quarters during the period to be included. 

UFC 200 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 7/9/2016 1:25 PM EST)

Odds is the betting line of 5Dimes taken from BestFightOdds.com. (Numbers are current as of 7/9/2016 1:25 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. Fighters must have been ranked in at least four quarters during the period to be included. 

Miesha Tate vs. Amanda Nunes
Tate has come a long way as a fighter, but statistically she is not much of a striker. A 59 StrikeScore is well below replacement level. In two of her last three fights against Holly Holm and Sara McMann, Tate was able to pull out the victory despite struggling on the feet. She will need to do the same here. Nunes’ issue on the feet is defense as she allows opponents to land 53 percent of their strikes against her. However, on the offensive side of the striking game, she is very effective. She lands 3.67 sig strikes per minute at a 50 percent clip, and she has finished half of her UFC fights via knockout.

Brock Lesnar vs. Mark Hunt
If you jumped into a time machine and headed towards 2009, you might be incredibly shocked to find that Hunt is a betting favorite over Lesnar. At the time, the gargantuan heavyweight champion had defeated Heath Herring, Randy Couture and Frank Mir and showed only a slight weakness, undeveloped submission defense. However, after UFC 100, Lesnar finished his initial UFC run with a 1-2 record and gave birth to the “he does not like to get hit narrative.”

When Lesnar was not able to get fights to the ground he struggled. As you can see below, his number of ground strikes fell off a cliff over his last three fights. 

With that being said, Lesnar’s biggest strength as a fighter has always been his knowledge of his own limitations. He knows that striking on the feet is not his game. Against Herring, he did not even try to throw the hooks in when the scrambler gave up his back. Lesnar knows his path to victory is to avoid huge shots on the feet, get takedowns and throw power shots from the top. That is why his career striking accuracy (73 percent) is so high and why he lands 3.57 sig strikes per minute.

The question in this fight will be whether the former University of Minnesota wrestler can get those takedowns. Next week he turns 39 years old, and he is 16 years removed from his amateur wrestling career. On the other hand, Hunt seems to become a more well rounded fighter the longer his career goes. With the exception of his fight against Stipe Miocic, the former kickboxer has looked actually hard to take down. However, that is a big exception.

Daniel Cormier vs. Anderson Silva
With Silva coming into this fight on very late notice, very few people are expecting him to pull off the upset. Considering Cormier’s wrestling prowess, his best path to victory would likely be landing a huge power strike and scoring a knockout finish. The adage is that power is the last thing to leave a fighter. However, Silva seems to be in the midsts of a power drain. Of the 38 fights tracked by FightMetric, “The Spider” has been to decision only 10 times. Against Nick Diaz (108) and Michael Bisping (75) Silva landed over 70 strikes without scoring a knockout for only the second and third time in his career.

Anderson Silva Most Sig Strikes Landed in Decision

Jose Aldo vs. Frankie Edgar
Flashback to the striking battle in their first encounter at UFC 156

StrikeScore for Aldo vs. Edgar I

Conor McGregor makes history and other stat notes from the UFC's three-fight weekend

By now pretty much everyone has heard that the Irish champion finished former champion Jose Aldo in only 13 seconds. The victory is the fastest finish in a UFC title fight. His career StrikeScore improved from 286 to 289. The improvement, combined with Aldo’s decline in score, leaves McGregor as the fighter with the highest StrikeScore among UFC ranked featherweights. That sounds about right. StrikeScore is a proprietary stat that measures striking efficiency, read about it here.

McGregor has finished five of his six bouts inside the Octagon. Per Fightmetric, he has scored five knockouts by throwing only 216 significant strikes, which means he scores a knockout about every 43 significant strikes. To put that number into perspective, 12 different fighters landed more than 43 significant strikes at UFC 194 and only one of those fighters won via knockout. Plus, McGregor has registered a knockdown is all of his knockout victories, so he finishes are coming via power strikes and not an accumulation of shots over time.

Over the course of his WEC/UFC career, Aldo had absorbed 408 significant strikes. He had never been knocked out or knocked down. McGregor changed all that with only 5 landed strikes.

Luke Rockhold was already in control before Chris Weidman’s poorly conceived spinning back fist
A lot has been made about Weidman’s spinning back fist being the turning point in the middleweight title bout. It is an easy talking point, and it will certainly be talked about more. However, Weidman’s striking production completely fell off a cliff after the first round. It is impossible to know whether or not things would have gone the same without the back fist. However, according to StrikeScore, Rockhold had already taken control of the fight.

Rockhold vs. Weidman StrikeScore by Round

Grappling Masters Demian Maia and Ryan Hall nullified their opponent’s striking offense
Despite McGregor’s historic performance, it was not all good news for his team SBG. On Friday, Ryan Hall used his attacking grappling game to totally stifle Artem Lobov. For the fight, Lobov attempted only 11 significant strikes and landed only two. Despite never seeming close to finishing the fight via strikes, Hall earned a whopping 1361 StrikeScore in the performance.

On Saturday, Lobov’s teammate Gunnar Nelson faced off against grappling ace Demian Maia. Nelson managed to attempt only four significant strikes and, like his teammate, only land two. Maia was a little bit more threatening with strikes than Hall, which shows in his StrikeScore of 2412. In his last two fights, Maia has only absorbed two significant strikes. 

StrikeScore per round scoring in controversial decisions
First, let’s preface this. StrikeScore only take into account striking, so it can’t and shouldn’t be used as the only criteria to pick a winner. However, striking is a large part of MMA, so it is interesting to look at controversial decisions compared to the judges’ cards. Check out the invaluable MMADecisions.com for judges and media cards for all events.

Yoel Romero vs. Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza
Official Winner: Romero (28-29, 29-27, 29-28)
Media Winner: Souza (11), Romero (2), Draw (3)

Romero vs. Jacare StrikeScore by Round

Yancy Medeiros vs. John Makdessi
Official Winner: Medeiros (28-29, 29-28, 29-28)
Media Winner: Makdessi (11), Medeiros (3)

Medeiros vs. Makdessi StrikeScore by Round

Ryan LaFlare vs. Mike Pierce
Official Winner: LaFlare (30-27, 29-28, 29-28)
Media Winner: LaFlare (7), Pierce (2)

LaFlare vs. Pierce StrikeScore by Round

Rose Namajunas prevents Paige VanZant's volume onslaught
Before last Thursday, VanZant had relied on her volume offensive striking to carry her to victories. Namajunas put a stop to that with better footwork and damaging blows. Coming into UFC Fight Night 80, VanZant had attempted 19 strikes per minute. Against Namajunas, she managed only 4 striking attempts per minute.

Referees need to stop encouraging stalling on the bottom
After the UFC’s resident bonus baby, Sage Northcutt was taken down by Cody Pfister, he had not interest in fighting or trying to get back to his feet. He simply latched onto Pfister and tried to prevent him from striking. Despite the stall tactic, Pfister was still able to land 30 of 33 strikes from the top position. The referee, Mark Smith still awarded the standup. After the stand up, Northcutt took down Pfister who immediately tried to start stalling as well.

Aljamain Sterling controls distance en route to another dominant win
Sterling’s wacky kicking offense did not appear to be doing very much. However, it allowed him to control the distance against a much more experienced striker in Johnny Eduardo. On the ground, Sterling had the clear advantage and finished the fight. He scored a 706 StrikeScore in the fight. In his UFC career, Sterling is absorbing less than 1 significant strike per minute. Unfortunately he is still one fight away from qualifying for Fightmetric records. Otherwise, he would take the crown as the fighter with the least strikes absorbed per minute in history of the promotion. 

UFC 194: McGregor's stats misinterpreted in WaPo hype piece

If you were worried that build up for UFC 194 was not providing enough hyperbole, don’t fret. Reed Kuhn has you covered. Last week, The Washington Post published his article “Conor McGregor is an ideal UFC fighter. Here’s Why.” You can read it here.
 
With a headline like that, you know you want to read it. After all, that is the point of bombastic headlines in this click-driven world. In case you don’t, here is a rough summary. McGregor is an ideal UFC fighter because he throws a lot of strikes, has an above average knockdown rate and is big. These facts, while interesting, are hardly enough to support for the thesis.
 
McGregor is a gifted striker, no doubt, but he is far from perfect or ideal. Like all fighters he has exploitable strengths and weakness in his game.
 
McGregor gets hit, a lot. Aldo does not.
Of the 16 featherweights ranked in the UFC rankings (15 plus the champion), McGregor is 13th when it comes to significant strikes absorbed per minute. He currently absorbs 3.01 significant strikes per minute. McGregor ranks behind Cub Swanson, who in his last two fights has been taken to the woodshed by Frankie Edgar and Max Holloway for a combined 175 significant strikes absorbed. Opponents also land 36 percent of their significant strikes against McGregor, which is only slightly better than the average of ranked featherweights, 38 percent.
 
Mendes—a proven power puncher—was able to land clean on McGregor when he was not going for takedowns, which is especially telling given McGregor’s huge reach advantage in that fight. The interim champion trusts his chin and seemed unfazed by any shot. But this might be a sort of competency trap. It might work in the short term, but anyone will go down from the right shot on the button. Plus, fighters who over rely on their chin often have a miserable end to their career (see: Chuck Liddell).
 
Aldo on the other hand, has the stats of a defensive striking master. (Suggested headline for WaPo: Aldo Harder to Hit than Neo in The Matrix!!!) Of the top 16 featherweights, he ranks second in significant strikes absorbed per minute (1.94) and first in opponent’s striking percentage (28 percent).

Source: Fightmetric

Source: Fightmetric

McGregor has solid, yet mostly untested, takedown defense
Over the course of his UFC run, McGregor has successfully defended 66 percent of his opponent’s takedowns. While that is middle of the pack among ranked featherweights, he has only really faced one viable takedown threat. Against Mendes, McGregor was taken down four times in seven attempts. Prior to that, he had fought off three attempts from Dennis Siver and two against Diego Brandao.
 
Aldo has the third best takedown defense among ranked featherweights. His 91 percent would currently qualify him for eighth best all time in UFC history. (However, he has not faced the minimum 20 takedown attempts to qualify per Fightmetric rules.)

Source: Fightmetric

Source: Fightmetric

Mike Goldberg would call the career StrikeScore numbers “Virtually Identical”
Aldo has a career StrikeScore of 283, while McGregor comes in at 286. StrikeScore is a proprietary stat that measures striking efficiency, read about it here. The similarity is interesting, because both fighters arrived at their scores differently. In recent fights, Aldo has taken a more technical approach, avoided the opposition’s attacks and landed his own. While McGregor has been willing to engage in exchanges with opponents and more often than not come out with the knockout finish. Don’t expect the UFC pay-per-view announcers to point out any such nuance on Saturday night. The following chart, shows the fighters’ last six performances.

Peak Ranking is Fight Matrix Quarterly High Ranking

Peak Ranking is Fight Matrix Quarterly High Ranking

Other Notes
In the midst of all the McGregor hype, here are some background numbers. This bout will be McGregor's first against a fighter with a Fight Matrix Highest Quarterly Ranking of number one, which is obvious since Aldo has held the mantle for the entirety of the interim champion’s UFC career. Aldo is 4-0 in his previous bouts against such fighters: Alexandre Franca Nogueira, Mike Thomas Brown, Urijah Faber and Frankie Edgar.
 
McGregor's career-high StrikeScore came in his first UFC fight against Brimage. He scored a 382. Aldo, on the other hand, only needed two landed significant strikes to notch his career-high StrikeScore of 6,800, netting him a quick knockout of Swanson
 
Aldo has fought 15 times in the UFC/WEC. McGregor has fought in the UFC six times. Aldo has fought for exactly 200 minutes in the cage, while McGregor has spent only a little less than 39 minutes fighting. So it’s noteworthy that even with a much larger sample size, Aldo’s striking stats are at the very worst on par with those of McGregor and call into question the validity of the Post’s headline and supporting analysis.