John Lineker vs. Phil Harris – UFC Fight Night 30 Statistical Analysis and Fight Pick

UFC Fight Night 30 October 26, 2013 Flyweight: John Lineker vs. Phil Harris By Reed Kuhn, @Fightnomics   Big Picture:  In the smallest UFC men’s division (numerically, and literally), matchmaking gets more difficult with a small roster. So a bout that had been set for UFC 163 in August that fell through has been rescheduled. The implications for re-booking John Lineker with just a two-month turnaround support the fact that the UFC has identified him as a potential contender, and wanted to keep him busy to test his abilities, which could add to his win streak enough to justify future title contention. That doesn’t bode well for British flyweight Phil Harris, who suffered an orbital injury while training for his shot at Lineker earlier this summer. At least for his sake this bout will take place in England rather than the originally scheduled Brazil meeting. Lineker comes in as a big -380 favorite over Harris at +315. Do the numbers justify Lineker as such a big favorite?   Summary Stats:

Fightnomics Uber Tape Lineker-Harris

Tale of Tape Matchup: Right off the bat Lineker gets a boost for being the younger and rangier fighter. If Lineker’s measurements are to be believed, his Wingspan to Height Ratio of 1.08 is gigantic. That’s superior even to most UFC champions who average about 1.05 (male average is 1.02), and ranks him #7 among active UFC fighters. That gives him the most range in the smallest frame, which is a big advantage against a taller, but leaner and less rangy opponent like Harris.   Striking Matchup: In stand-up striking it’s almost a clean sweep for Lineker. In offensive metrics, Lineker is a stud with high accuracy, very high pace, and a knockdown rate that puts him well above his weight class peers. Harris on the other hand, with admittedly limited data, has very poor striking stats. In fact, his stat-line is the worst in the division. Granted, he may be primarily a grappler, but this is an MMA fight and Lineker will no doubt want to keep the fight at a distance. The only bright spot for Harris is his head striking defense, which is actually very good, while Lineker’s is simultaneously very bad. The latter half of that statement appears irrelevant given Harris’ striking prowess, but the former may salvage Harris from some portion of the inevitable beating he’ll face while they stand and trade.   Grappling Matchup: On the ground is where Harris needs to get the fight. He’s 3 for 4 on takedown attempts so far and prefers to take people down from the clinch. Look for him to push forward and close the distance on Lineker in order to clinch, and work for a takedown. To date, Harris hasn’t succeeded in grappling at the UFC-level of competition, and was only in control of roughly half his minutes spent on the mat in his first two fights. Notably, he was submitted in his UFC debut, so despite his pedigree in BJJ he hasn’t been able to translate those skills to the Octagon just yet. Lineker has faced 11 takedowns so far, and currently has above average takedown defense. Still that hasn’t stopped him from being controlled on the ground. If Lineker can’t keep the fight standing, he’s more at risk to lose rounds than he is to get submitted.   Reed’s Pick: Lineker by TKO (click for latest MMA odds)   Reed’s Recommended Play:  Lots of advantages favor Lineker all over the place, and so I do believe he is justified as a heavy favorite. However, a straight play on Lineker will put a lot of juice at risk. Wait to see how the prop looks for a win “inside the distance” for Lineker, as he clearly has the hands to finish if it stays standing and might be worth splitting a bet with the ITD pick to provide extra value. Otherwise, consider Lineker straight up to boost the value of parlays. Given Harris’ propensity for submission finishes (13 submissions in 22 victories, but none in the UFC), also consider the Under of 2.5 rounds at -140 to hedge against a surprise submission upset. That line suggests a 58% chance of a finish, which is higher than the historical finish rate for Flyweights, but is justified by two fighters who each offer ways to end the fight quickly. Later this week, look for any value in a Lineker by TKO prop, as that is the predicted method of finish.

Written by Reed Kuhn

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