UFC Fight Night 26 August 17, 2013 Bantamweights: Michael McDonald vs. Brad Pickett By Reed Kuhn, @Fightnomics Big Picture: To finish off the undercard before official first FOX Sports 1 main card, two top-5 ranked bantamweights will scrap when Michael “Mayday” McDonald faces Brad “One Punch” Pickett. The winner may earn a shot at Urijah Faber who has held a stranglehold on top contender status for years, and will be competing later in the evening. Both fighters have lost to current interim champion Renan Barao, but #3 ranked McDonald was the most recent challenger. He’s currently the -195 favorite over #5 ranked Pickett, who is the +155 underdog. The stakes are high, but so are the chances for an exciting matchup. Let’s see what the statistics tell us. Summary Stats:
Tale of Tape Matchup: McDonald is still very young in his career, despite having already amassed an admirable 5-1 UFC career. He’ll be more than 12 years younger than his opponent Pickett, who turns 35 years old next month. Add onto that a slight reach advantage, and McDonald deserves some attention as the favorite based on macro-trends for anthropometrics. Striking Matchup: A look at the striking stat-line reveals almost a clean sweep for McDonald. McDonald is the more accurate overall striker thanks to a very crisp jab. He’s also more likely to control the range of the fight than his opponent. And when it comes to landing strikes, his knockdown rate is extremely high for bantamweight. Pickett’s power, accuracy and defense metrics all come in about average, with his only apparent advantage in significant strike pace. He’s operated in some high volume fights, though in those fights he was only keeping pace with opponents (and not quite, at that). So overall the striking matchup clearly favors McDonald. He’ll also have the more youthful chin and better striking defense that should all points to winning the standup exchanges with Pickett. His opponent got the name One Punch for a reason, and of course he’s still a threat. But the numbers tell us that McDonald should have the advantage on the feet. Grappling Matchup: The ground game is more even, but appears to favor Pickett slightly. Pickett has spent a larger share of his fights on the ground, and has been in control the majority of that time. The only apparent weakness for McDonald coincidentally, is his ground control stat. Pickett will be the more likely fighter to attempt takedowns, and he does have a decent takedown success rate that is above average. The two fighters have identical takedown defense that is just about average. The ground game presents an interesting opportunity for Pickett, if he can get the fight there. The question is: will he even try? Pickett’s propensity for striking may mean he wants to stand and bang. And if he does want to get on the ground, he’ll have to close range on a larger opponent. Reed’s Pick: McDonald by TKO (Click for latest MMA Odds) Reed’s Recommended Play: A straight play on McDonald at -195 is reasonable, and will also be a great multiplier for parlays. While picking a TKO finish in the Bantamweight Division is a statistical longshot (they only occur <25% of the time), I think the likelihood of a finish inside the distance is boosted because of the combination of McDonald’s power and Pickett’s age. Look for any plus value props on McDonald by TKO or the fight ending inside the distance and consider a small play there as well.