Michael Johnson vs Melvin Guillard – UFC Fight Night 37 Statistical Analysis and Fight Pick

UFC Fight Night 37 March 8, 2014 Lightweight Matchup: Melvin Guillard vs #14 Michael Johnson By Reed Kuhn, @Fightnomics   Big Picture:  The co-main event in London will feature a late matchmaking shuffle due to an injury to Ross Pearson that will delay his lightweight rematch with Melvin Guillard. Instead, Michael Johnson steps in to face Melvin Guillard in a matchup of heavy hitters. Initially, #14 ranked Johnson opened as a slight favorite, yet he is currently an ever so slight underdog at -115 versus the new favorite Guillard at -125. This matchup has a lot of picking calling it a pick em’ and the action could flip flop till fight day. Lots of data to look at with these two, so let’s compare them in more detail.   Summary Stats:

Fightnomics Uber Tape Guillard-Johnson To see more Uber Tales of the Tape for this UFC fight card, check out MMA Oddsbreaker Premium.

  Tale of Tape Matchup: The Tale of Tape shows a sweep for Johnson, who is the younger, longer, Southpaw. The differentials aren’t huge, but the lean on paper is towards Johnson. Despite only pushing 31, Guillard has a long career in the sport, but also had some bad habits outside of it. These factors combine to increase his “fight age” above what it is on paper.   Striking Matchup: Melvin Guillard hits hard. Really hard. When I ran analysis on the UFC’s Most Dangerous Strikers he scored fifth overall – and that was several knockdowns ago. Now with 13 total knockdowns in the UFC, he ranks third all-time on that list behind only Anderson Silva (17) and Chuck Liddell (14). His Knockdown Rate is a ridiculous 13% over a lengthy career, more than three times his division’s average. That’s a lot of power, and it’s very rare to see it sustained at lightweight. Although his power hand isn’t more accurate than average, he does keep up a good pace and has better than average striking defense. For these reasons it’s clear why he is a feared striker who forced most opponents to try to avoid trading with him. But that’s not the end of the story. Michael Johnson brings some pretty solid stats into the Octagon himself. With eight career knockdowns, the Southpaw may not have the absurd power stats that Guillard has, but Johnson’s ability to drop opponents is still above the division average. In terms of landing power head strikes, Johnson comes in way above average, and manages this accuracy despite controlling the cage and averaging a fast standup pace – even faster than Guillard. Defensively Johnson’s avoidance is almost as good as Guillard’s, and Johnson has been more resilient when hit. Strength of “chin” may end up being every bit as important as the power in their hands once the leather starts flying. This fight could play out entirely on the feet, in which case the important takeaway is that both fighters are aggressive and dangerous. Both fighters having a striking ratio above even means neither are shy about initiating exchanges, which is also great for a FOTN prop. When neither guy backs down, that makes for fireworks.   Grappling Matchup: Both fighters spend about a third of their time on the mat, but neither has been assertive in putting the fight there. These two attempt takedowns at a very low rate, despite having a good accuracy. More notably they have good takedown defense, but likely due to opponents wanting to avoid striking with them, both fighters have spent most of the ground time on their back due to the overwhelming volume of takedown attempts thrown at them. It will be very interesting to see if either fighter tries to initiate a wrestling match – it would be unlike them – but anything is possible if they respect each other’s hands. Historically, Guillard’s weakness has been on the mat, where almost all his losses came by way of submission. But the same goes for Johnson. The question – should this fight hit the mat – is which fighter has improved upon their submission game more than the other. While I give a slight edge to Johnson on the mat thanks to his wrestling background, it may only help him win rounds rather than end the fight with a tap. Still, the overall grappling lean goes to Johnson.   Reed’s Pick: Johnson by TKO (click for latest MMA odds)   Reed’s Recommended Play:  It’s a very close fight on paper, with skill metric advantages falling on either side of the cage. The Tale of the Tape suggests there should be a slight lean towards Johnson, who has range, stance, and accuracy advantages to land the first hard shots of the fight, as well as the wrestling experience to get him out of trouble. If Johnson remains an underdog, he makes a reasonable play, as he certainly has as much a chance to do damage as Guillard. The over is currently -155 for 1.5 rounds, the under +115. Given the crazy striking abilities of both fighters and their tendency to prefer to stand and bang, I lean towards the under here. We’ve also seen both fighters get rocked before, and in this situation that only adds to the ingredients for an early finish. Later in the week props for TKO or ITD finishes could also provide value.

Written by Reed Kuhn

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