Donald Cerrone vs. Rafael dos Anjos – UFC Fight Night 27 Statistical Analysis and Fight Pick Aug 24, 2013

UFC Fight Night 27
August 28, 2013

Lightweights: Donald Cerrone vs. Rafael dos Anjos

By Reed Kuhn, @Fightnomics

Big Picture:
It’s Fight Night time on FOX Sports 1 again, and this time we’ll be watching live UFC action on a Wednesday night. In the co-main event of the evening #6 ranked Donald Cerrone faces #10 ranked Rafael dos Anjos.

Cerrone bounced back from a loss to new title contender Anthony Pettis by outstriking former boxer KJ Noons. Rafael dos Anjos in his last fight, squeaked by Evan Dunham in a fight where he was heavily favored and had most observers questioning the decision (including me!). So in popular perception anyway, Cerrone should be a clear favorite based on rankings and historical fight resumé.

Dos Anjos has an impressive 4-fight win streak, but that just doesn’t match the level of talent that Cerrone has been facing, even back when he was in the WEC. All of Cerrone’s losses have been to WEC or UFC lightweight champions or contenders. Against everyone else he’s been perfect. Consider him the Urijah Faber of the lightweight division; he’s a tough matchup for anyone who is not champion caliber.

Now let’s see what the stats tell us.

Summary Stats:

Cerrone vs dos Anjos Stats

Tale of Tape Matchup:
Both fighters are in their prime, but Cerrone will be the larger fighter with a two-inch reach advantage. While these are both veterans of the Octagon, remember that the level of competition Cerrone has faced is tougher than dos Anjos.

Striking Matchup:
It’s nearly a clean sweep for Cerrone in striking metric advantages. He has a very sharp jab, and despite average power accuracy, he has an extremely high knockdown rate for a lightweight. On the other side of the stat-line Dos Anjos shows a lot of average metrics for his striking. His profile shows that he uses a ratio of power strikes to jabs of 3:1, which is very high, yet his power striking accuracy is one of his worst metrics. These characteristics against a larger, longer opponent who is more accurate and more powerful doesn’t bode well if this stays standing. I expect Cerrone to get the better of the striking exchanges.

Ground Game:
Dos Anjos boasts a black belt in BJJ, but Cerrone’s Team Jackson-based grappling is no joke either. Cerrone has 13 wins by submission. But the stats reveal some better skills for dos Anjos given his frequent takedown attempts and high percentage of time on the ground spent in a dominant position. The problem for dos Anjos is that his takedown success rate is low. While he may eventually get this to the ground for some of the fight, I expect Cerrone’s guard to handle whatever dos Anjos can throw at him. Cerrone’s size advantage will also come in handy if the fight goes to the mat, and generally neither fighter is likely to be submitted.

Reed’s Pick: Cerrone by Decision

Reed’s Recommended Play:
A straight play on Cerrone at -165 is solid given the relatively even line. I think the 4-fight win streak for dos Anjos and his generally aggressive style of swinging for the fences may have some people looking for him to connect on Cerrone and drop him. That’s certainly a possibility. Cerrone has suffered flash knockdowns in the past. But Cerrone’s advantages throughout this matchup make him a good play. If you want to hedge a big play on Cerrone straight up, then dos Anjos inside the distance at +660 can offset the risk of that flash knockdown or submission.

Written by Reed Kuhn

Dropping science in the cage with UFC statistics & analytics. Quantifying underlying drivers of the fight game, and ending barroom disputes everywhere.

2 responses to “Donald Cerrone vs. Rafael dos Anjos – UFC Fight Night 27 Statistical Analysis and Fight Pick”

  1. John Duck Kim says:

    Also interesting to note is that these two have a common opponent – Jeremy Stephens. Although Cerrone faced a more recent version of Stephens (2012) than Dos Anjos faced (2008), the way they fared against a common opponent shows a lot about both fighters. Cerrone has faced aline up of hard hitting, frenetic paced fighters, and done admirably. And as you mentioned, he hasn’t lost to anyone who wasn’t in title contention or a title holder. Frankly, I’m surprised the line isn’t more like -210 or -220 for Cerrone given the points you make above and the common opponent.

    • Reed Kuhn says:

      Good point John. I was a few feet away for Cerrone’s fight against Stephens, and Cerrone owned it from bell to bell. This line might move this week.