UFC 167 November 16, 2013 Welterweight: Josh Koscheck vs. Tyron Woodley By Reed Kuhn, @Fightnomics Big Picture: It’s a battle between two former NCAA Division 1 All American Wrestlers who both learned how to knock people out after transitioning to MMA. It’s a match-up of stylistic clones, which makes it no surprise that the betting line on this contest is virtually even. Despite Koscheck opening up as the slightest favorite, this is currently a “pick ‘em” fight. The line on both fighters is -110. Now let’s see if the numbers agree with those odds. Summary Stats:
Tale of Tape Match-up: Physically, these guys are again quite even. The most glaring stat in the Bio is that Koscheck will turn 36 years old later this month, making him the second oldest fighter at UFC 167 (Sonnen-36.5). Age differentials are important in that older fighters are less likely to be submitted, but more likely to be TKO’d. As we’ll see later, this is extremely relevant in this match-up. In stance and reach the fighters are identical. Striking Match-up: As is sometimes the case when two experienced wrestlers face off, this could become a contest of hesitant stand-up striking exchanges. Both fighters are counter-strikers who tend to get outpaced by opponents to a similar degree. That usually means a lot of staring and circling in the first few minutes until someone commits. When the first exchanges do occur, the stat-line favors Woodley in terms of accuracy, power, and also slightly on defense. Once hit, Koscheck’s history in the UFC seems to have caught up with him. Readers of my analysis may remember my big upset pick of Robbie Lawler for the TKO of Koscheck back at UFC 157. This match-up looks a lot like that one. Koscheck has now suffered four knockdowns, which ties him for the most on the card (Evans also has four). Punch for punch, Koscheck’s chin rating is slightly below average for a welterweight, while Woodley’s knockdown power is way above average. Even in the two fights where Woodley lost (Marquardt and Shields), he still landed some hard shots. At some point, he should do the same against Koscheck. Unlike in the welterweight main event where GSP’s vulnerability is countered by excellent strike defense and a huge reach advantage, Koscheck is more likely to let something through. Both fighters have clear knockdown power, but the stats favor Woodley, who is the more precise, more powerful, and also the fresher and more resilient striker between the two. Grappling Match-up: Both fighters have legitimate wrestling credentials, and have each been dominant on the mat by spending the vast majority of their ground minutes in a position of control. Offensively, they both attempt takedowns at the average pace, and Koscheck lands slightly more of them. But on the receiving end Woodley’s takedown defense is phenomenal and would place #2 all-time behind Jon Jones if he had logged enough UFC appearances to qualify for the list. Either fighter in top control could win rounds with ground and pound, but submissions are unlikely (though there’s a slight edge again to Woodley). I don’t expect either will end up on his back without a fight, but Woodley gets a slight edge given his strength and youth advantage. I suspect instead that these guys will want to test each other standing, Reed’s Pick: Woodley by TKO (click for latest MMA odds) Reed’s Recommended Play: I see slight advantages for Woodley in the Tale of the Tape, stand-up striking, and even on the mat. Despite Koscheck having more brand recognition and UFC title-fight experience, I think Woodley presents great value for an underdog pick at almost even money. Because I think Woodley will eventually land a big shot that stuns Koscheck and sets up a finish by strikes, look for a nice plus money return on a Woodley inside the distance (or by TKO) prop bet at +240. If you want to hedge against Koscheck rediscovering his knockdown power you can get the Under 2.5 rounds also at plus money at +115. Not a huge upset pick, but the stats say this isn’t a coin flip slightly favoring Koscheck.