UFC 160 Saturday, May 25, 2013 Featherweights: Dennis Bermudez vs. Max Holloway By Reed Kuhn, @Fightnomics Big Picture: Two young featherweights each with a three fight UFC win streak will face off on the FX undercard portion of UFC 160. Neither Dennis Bermudez nor Max Holloway is ranked, as both have been earning wins over subsequently released fighters. But one may earn a 4th straight victory that will command some greater attention from fans and matchmakers. The current odds have Bermudez as a clear -300 favorite, with the underdog Holloway at +250. But while the main card will be capped off with some well justified favorites, identifying underdogs is sometimes easier on the undercard where a bigger name carries more weight. It’s also where young talent can fly under the radar. At 21 years old, the young Hawaiian Max Holloway doesn’t have an intimidating build or appearance, even more reason why the hype train may work against him and in favor of bettors. So it’s definitely worth checking stats to see how these two match up. Summary Stats:
Tale of Tape Matchup: While both fighters are still young, Holloway has a clear size and reach advantage over Bermudez which should come in handy in the standup game, as well as in avoiding takedowns. Keeping that in mind, let’s look at the performance metrics more carefully. Standup Game: Though the numbers are close, Holloway edges out Bermudez in nearly all standup striking and pace metrics. He is more accurate both with jabs and power strikes, barely edges out standup striking control, has better striking defense and chin, and tends to work at a much higher pace of activity than Bermudez. Another difference is in knockdown power, where Holloway is about average for featherweights, while Bermudez has been well above average. But considering the smaller weight class, and size advantage and superior defense (as well as the youthful chin) that Holloway has, the threat of a knockout here is diminished. So overall it appears Holloway should get the better of stand exchanges. So the question will be whether Bermudez can win this on the ground. Ground Game: The fact that Holloway has yet to attempt a single takedown in the UFC contrasts sharply with the 2-3 takedowns that Bermudez attempts on average every round. But interestingly, Holloway’s opponents have often tried to get him down, and have mostly failed. Holloway’s takedown defense is almost as good as that of Bermudez, which is to say it is quite good. So Holloway has had some good practice in keeping the fight standing, and in fact has only spent 9% of his total fight minutes on the ground. His sole loss came in his UFC debut via a submission at the hands (legs actually) of the highly ranked Dustin Poirier when Holloway was barely 20 years old. Bermudez does bring NCAA wrestling experience to the cage, but has not shown a diverse submission skillset. So while Bermudez will certainly try to work from top control, he’ll have to keep doing it through three rounds if that’s his main path to victory. Fight Prediction: Spotting a solid underdog pick is tough. There’s no perfect formula for predicting a big upset. But generally I look for basic Tale of the Tape advantages followed up with strong performance metrics and a clear path to victory. Max Holloway fits that bill. He’ll still need to fend off takedowns and watch out for the more mature power of Bermudez, but if he can control the cage with his range and keep the pressure on with his pace, he can steal a decision here and turn some heads. And he’s only 21. Reed’s Pick: Holloway by decision (click for latest MMA odds) Reed’s Recommended Play: A small play on Holloway straight up offers good plus money at +250, and makes a good addition to round robins as well. For the believers who want a bigger payout, consider a small play on Holloway by decision at +454, as that is the most likely path to victory.