UFC Fight Night 33 December 7, 2013 Light Heavyweights: Ryan Bader vs. Anthony Perosh By Reed Kuhn, @Fightnomics Big Picture: In the last fight before the co-main and main events, there are two light heavyweights that have gathered a fair bit of experience in the Octagon, but have generally remained in different tiers of their division. Though Ryan Bader isn’t currently ranked in the top 10 of the division, he’s certainly on the bubble. Making his debut by winning The Ultimate Fighter Season 8, Bader’s 8-4 record only includes losses from 3 former champions and one current #1 contender. He also has wins over former champions and contenders. Meanwhile, Perosh started off his late blossoming UFC career with a loss to Mirko Cro-Cop, but has since quietly earned a 4-1 record including 4 stoppages. Ryan “Darth” Bader opens as a huge -550 favorite, with the underdog Anthony Perosh at +400. At a glance, it seems that Perosh’s statline can hang with Bader’s, but the devil is in the details. Summary Stats:
Tale of Tape Matchup: The size differential here is not significant, but the 11-year Youth Advantage to Bader is huge. Perosh is one the oldest fighters in the UFC (if not currently the oldest since the departure of Vladimir Matyushenko). And that factor will influence this fight. Both fighters are Orthodox, and despite both being required to weigh the same the day before, look for Bader to come out as the bigger (more massive) fighter at the opening bell as he is not only the more athletic of the two but also the more experienced in cutting weight. Striking Matchup: Bader has been hit or miss, but has been so generally against high-level competition. His accuracy is slightly low for his division, perhaps reflecting his late career transition from high-level wrestler to MMA fighter. What’s not in question is his power. His knockdown rate is extremely high, and he has several TKO finishes and even wobbled new contender Glover Teixeira in his last fight before getting dropped himself. Bottom line, Bader isn’t a precision striker, but he usually shows good movement and packs tons of power. When he does get hit, that when problems occur. Across the cage will be Anthony Perosh, a veteran grappler and third degree BJJ black belt. Having faced generally lower levels of competition in the UFC, Perosh shows a similar striking profile to Bader. He has below average accuracy but apparently good power when he does land strikes. His pace is a problem though, as he not only averages fewer attempts per minute overall, but also tends to get vastly outworked by opponents while standing. These characteristics are typical of fighters who are primarily grapplers. For Perosh’s statistics, it’s important to consider the difference in strength of opponents. His two TKO TKO wins came against fighters who can’t claim to be fearsome strikers. When Perosh did face good strikers, he either got knocked out, or took the fight to the ground and relied on his grappling. On defense, both fighters have suffered their fair share of knockdowns, and Bader has suffered more on a punch for punch basis, albeit versus higher-level strikers like Lyoto Machida and Glover Teixeira. In terms of avoided strikes, Bader is actually well above average despite his high quality of opponents while Perosh is about average against lesser opponents. Overall the stand-up game shows strong advantages for Bader. If he keeps it standing he should land the more powerful strikes, and should do so first. Grappling Matchup: There’s no doubt Perosh wants this on the ground, so we need to check if he’ll get there or not. To date, he has attempted more than double the average pace of takedown attempts per round. One reason this is so high is because so few are actually successful. Pairing that trend with Bader’s very high takedown defense and I think Perosh’s attempts will get stuffed early, putting him at great risk if he starts telegraphing more attempts. If it does go to the mat Perosh certainly has the better submission game, which has cost Bader in two of his losses. Bader’s wrestling will mitigate some of that risk of losing unfavorable positions, but a submission attempt from Perosh is still a threat here. Overall the ground matchup if kind of a wash between a seasoned wrestler and a BJJ black belt, especially as Bader spends very little of his ground time on his back. But don’t expect Bader to want to stay on the ground long unless his early ground and pound proves successful. Reed’s Pick: Bader by TKO (click for latest MMA odds) Reed’s Recommended Play: The numbers look closer than I would have expected, but “strength of schedule” and context is important here. Eight out of 11 of Bader’s UFC opponents have competed in a title fight, and still Bader has hung around the upper echelons of the division for a long time despite less career experience. It’s a ton of juice to lay on Bader to win at -550, especially given his recent knockouts and the threat of Perosh’s submission game. But there are other options here. Both fighters have finishing power and both guys are susceptible to strikes, which makes the Under 1.5 rounds at -155 a much more reasonable play. These are light heavyweights who can both finish and be finished, the Under looks like a no-brainer. One way or the other this fight is likely to end early, so later in the week look for other props on Bader by TKO, or the Fight Does Not Go the Distance prop to get better value than a straight up pick on Bader. If Perosh inside the distance offers a ridiculous enough line, it might also make a fun lottery pick play.