TUF Nations Finale April 16, 2014 Featherweight Matchup: #6 Dustin Poirier vs Akira Corassani By Reed Kuhn, @Fightnomics Big Picture: Leading off the main card on the TUF finale is a matchup of featherweights who have each assembled a win streak. Poirier is attempting to build his case for a title shot, while Corassani is still hoping to break into the official ranks of the division. Despite all that, for those who raised an eyebrow at the matchmaking on this one it seems you’re not alone. The #6 ranked Poirier opened as a huge favorite at -675 over underdog Akira Corassani at +450. Bargain hunting is tricky business, but also cheap when you see this big of an underdog. However, for anyone laying juice on huge favorites you’d better do your homework first. With somewhat limited data on the underdog, it’s still worth checking the stat-line to see if the steep price for Poirier is worth it. Summary Stats:
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Tale of Tape Matchup: The Tale of Tape shows a sweep for Poirier, who is a young, rangy Southpaw. Corassani is 6 years older, despite having a few less professional fights, and is also giving up a sizable reach differential. That all bodes well for the favorite, Poirier, in the big picture. Striking Matchup: Both fighters here have precise standup striking. Corassani gets the edge in his power strike accuracy, while Poirier is a little better with the jab, which he also uses more often than Corassani. Poirier gets the advantage in the power department, having scored three knockdowns to date at a slightly above average rate for the division. Corassani has been dropped once (by Andy Ogle), despite having a slightly better strike avoidance stat. In terms of pace, Poirier gets the advantage in both overall rate of strikes, as well as his ability to out-work his opponents – something that Corassani hasn’t been able to do. The Tale of the Tape and the historical performance metrics, as well as the context that Poirier has faced the stiffer competition all point to a clear advantage to Poirier on the feet. Despite his youth, however, he’s not invincible, and Corassani’s aggressive striking is still a threat. But given the evidence, Poirier should be getting the better of the standup exchanges throughout, using a long jab to outwork his opponent, and could also be a threat to score a knockdown from a distance that sets up a finish. Grappling Matchup: Corassani spends more time on his feet during fights, and that’s due to a lower than average takedown attempt rate, a low success rate in converting takedowns, and also very good takedown defense. This also suggests a preference for striking. When he ends up on the ground, he’s generally the one on his back. Throughout his career, however, he’s never been submitted. That could change here, as he’s facing a more experienced submission artist. Poirier is the more recognized grappler among the two, and spends more time during his fights on the mat. He attempts an average number of takedowns, but converts a lower than average share of them. His takedown defense is about average, and historically he spends about half his time on the mat in control, and half the time being controlled. Overall, getting the fight down will be a challenge, but once there is will clearly favor Poirier because of the differences in the submission game. Corassani has yet to attempt a submission in the UFC, while Poirier already has 12 attempts and three finishes via generally impressive techniques. Poirier averages one submission attempt for every other time he ends up on the mat. Should the fight go to the ground, he’s a big threat to work submissions, something he may also use if he hurts Corassani while on their feet. Reed’s Pick: Poirier by Inside the Distance (click for latest MMA odds) Reed’s Recommended Play: Though Corassani is still somewhat of an unknown, he’s on a win streak even if we exclude his recent DQ win over Maximo Blanco. And he’s never lost in the UFC, even overcaming an early knockdown against Andy Ogle to rally to a split decision win. Despite all that, Corassani seems a little outmatched here against a versatile and dangerous opponent with all the right anthropometric advantages. Poirier is a justified favorite, but more than -600 is a lot to pay unless you parlay him with another clear favorite or go big. The Under of 2.5 rounds at -180 is worth considering, rather than the Over at +140. Featherweights only finish a ballpark of half their fights, so at face value it seems like the Over is a better value. However, Poirier is a crafty finisher, and whether the fight is standing or on the ground, he’ll get some opportunities at some point. Poirier Inside the Distance is a good prop if it’s available but not if it’s a worse price than the Under. The ITD play allows for just a little more time for Poirier to get the finish and also mitigates the risk of choosing a T/KO or Submission in a more specific prop, as Poirier could end the fight either way. If forced to pick between a TKO and Submission finish, I’d lean Submission, but this is one of those scenarios that a more general finish play is safer.