UFC 166 October 19, 2013 Heavyweight: Gabriel Gonzaga vs. Shawn Jordan By Reed Kuhn, @Fightnomics Big Picture: UFC 166 is the late season’s heavyweight card, so in addition to a title fight and co-main event with heavyweights, a third matchup offers up two more heavies who are both coming off big knockout wins. Shawn Jordan has been racking up wins in the UFC in a fast, but short career, while Gabriel Gonzaga is salvaging a second life in the UFC after vying for a title just a few years ago. With a win here, either fighter can scrape his way up the ladder in a division that is always looking for new blood in the top ranks. Despite much less experience, Jordan is currently a decent -210 favorite over Gonzaga at +175 Let’s see what the numbers say. Summary Stats:
Tale of Tape Matchup: Jordan will have a five-year youth advantage in this match-up, giving him an instant edge that is magnified by Gonzaga’s knockout history and the fact that they are heavyweights. Another smaller advantage for Jordan will be his Southpaw stance, which normally drops the striking performance metrics of orthodox fighters. Other than those differentials, both fighters are fresh off super-fast summer knockouts that should mean they are healthy and in good shape for this fight. Striking Matchup: I’ve kept an eye on Jordan’s striking stats for a while now because he shows unusually high accuracy. Though his power is “punch for punch” on the low side, he certainly doesn’t lack for knockout ability. But I’ve been waiting for his accuracy stats to normalize with a few more fights of data and they just haven’t. Sure, he hasn’t faced the same level of competition as Gonzaga, but Jordan’s hands have been finding a home at an exceptional rate that is worth acknowledging here. In his last fight against Pat Barry, Jordan was facing a highly skilled kickboxer and made short work of him. Gonzaga comes in with below average accuracy and a slow pace, and lack of cage control. But his knockdown rate is bonkers. The problem is that his own chin is quite vulnerable. On the other hand, Jordan has shown poor defense letting people connect with him, but has not yet been knocked down. Look for hesitant striking at first, as neither guy pushes the pace. But the fireworks start, Jordan will be more likely to land the first big shots, and Gonzaga has been less and less able to with stand bombs. Overall, the mix of Jordan’s accuracy and youth (stronger chin) should mean that standing and trading leather will favor him in the long run. Grappling Matchup: Gonzaga is the more likely fighter to attempt takedowns and has the better success rate on offense and defense. Jordan does have some wrestling experience, but Gonzaga has the more impressive submission arsenal. Both fighters have been in control a vast majority of their time on the mat, making it an awkward spot for whichever fighter lands on his back first. Jordan’s ground an pound is his better weapon, but he’ll have to be careful with Gonzaga’s submission game. Reed’s Pick: Jordan by TKO (click for latest MMA odds) Reed’s Recommended Play: Despite a reasonable line, I’m having trouble putting too much faith in Jordan as the favorite here. He has let guys hit him at a high rate, something that he can’t afford to do against Gonzaga, and his lack of experience is also a risk against the rare instance of a heavyweight submission ace. That said, I also don’t see any reason that Jordan shouldn’t win the standup exchanges and hurt Gonzaga, and he should also be the more durable fighter. I’ll be making a small play on Jordan, but considering a flyer on Gonzaga inside the distance as well at +300. The over/under props suggest this fight is much less likely to go the distance than the other heavyweight matchups on the card, with “inside the distance” currently paying -300. That makes sense given the fight histories of both fighters who have each finished their opponents in every single one of their UFC wins. Both guys are dangerous, but again I see an imbalance with Jordan’s power and Gonzaga’s increasingly fragile chin. Betting inside the distance is a reasonable play for parlays to hedge against Jordan getting caught with something. If you’re looking for even juicer fliers, consider second a round finish. Given that neither fighter likes to initiate, the fight should make it out of the first round. But that doesn’t change the offensive threats that both guys bring to the table. A second round finish for Jordan returns +525, and for Gonzaga it’s +1050. In fact, three of Jordan’s UFC wins came in the second round.