UFC on FX 8: Rockhold vs Belfort Jaragua do Sol, Brazil Saturday, May 18, 2013 Lightweight Fight: Evan Dunham vs. Rafael Dos Anjos Big Picture: #10 ranked Rafael dos Anjos looks to leverage a home field advantage in Brazil and extend a three-fight win streak to cement his position in the UFC top 10. But UFC veteran Evan Dunham is 7-3 in the UFC, continuing his own slow rise to contention while amassing Fight of the Night bonuses. The current line at Several Bookmakers gives the advantage to the Brazilian at -190, with Dunham as the underdog at +165. Given how close the matchup is, and how much quantified fight data exists on these two fighters, it’s worth looking into the performance stats to see how these two really matchup. Summary Stats:
Tale of Tape Matchup: At first blush, the matchup is very even. The two veterans have similar sizes and ages within the range of insignificance. The only notable difference is that Dunham is a Southpaw, a metric that on its own is worth a small favorable bump for the left hander. With each fighter we’re looking at around 2-hours of UFC fight-time, so let’s dive deeper into those stats. Standup Game: In the key indicators for standup striking, Dunham nearly scores a clean sweep. Dunham has very high accuracy, overall pace, and cage control, which are all areas where his opponent, dos Anjos, falls below average. Both fighters have good striking defense, and while dos Anjos historically is slightly better, Dunham’s Southpaw stance may have a slight balancing effect. Dos Anjos comes in about average for knockdown power, while Dunham is a little below. Both fighters have similarly better than average knockdown resiliency (“chins”). The reduced likelihood of an early knockout due to the size of the fighters as well as their historical tendencies makes pace and accuracy even more important in determining who wins the rounds. These metrics clearly favor the underdog, Dunham. Ground Game: Dos Anjos has attempted more takedowns, while Dunham has had to defend more. But in terms of success, the two fighters have nearly identical offensive and defensive success rates. And in both cases, their defenses are a better than their offenses. Dos Anjos may be first and more active in attempting to go to ground, but Dunham should be able to keep it standing for enough time to do work from his feet. Once on the mat both fighters have gotten the better of opponents by controlling a majority of ground position. They advance and achieve dominant positions with nearly identical frequency, although Dunham has actually attempted more submissions overall (mostly guillotine chokes). Overall, dos Anjos has a slight advantage on the ground by being the more aggressive and seasoned grappler, but neither fighter has been submitted, unless you count an injury submission by dos Anjos against Clay Guida. Fight Prediction: The stats reveal relatively evenly matched fighters, but with a number of critical performance metrics lining up in the underdog’s favor. In lighter weight classes the pace of activity is very important. Dunham has been putting up big striking numbers on his feet, and has done so with much better accuracy than his opponent. This means he should be winning the exchanges, even if the probabilities are lower for a knockout. Lightweights can and do fight everywhere. But we see good reasons for this one to stay standing, and that gives Dunham an advantage to win rounds and a decision. Doing so means overcoming the Brazilian home-field advantage, which he can do by ensuring his striking is much cleaner than his opponent, and thus making it easier on the judges to score in his favor. Reed’s Pick: Dunham by Decision (click for latest MMA odds) Reed’s Recommended Play: I like a small underdog play on Dunham, or include him in a round robin.