Conor McGregor vs Diego Brandao – UFC Fight Night 46 Statistical Analysis and Pick

UFC Fight Night 46 July 19, 2014 Featherweight Matchup: Conor McGregor vs Diego Brandao By Reed Kuhn, @Fightnomics   Big Picture:  The main event in Dublin this weekend will surely draw a crowd reaction. Rumor has it that UFC staff will be recording the noise levels in the O2 Arena, and there’s no doubt that the peak value will be set during hometown hero Conor McGregor’s walkout. In a nation known for its enthusiasm for some Saturday night fisticuffs, Dubliners are going to blow the roof in their support of The Notorious one. The 13th-ranked Featherweight McGregor is a huge favorite at -470, with the comeback on the Brazilian underdog Brandao at +375. McGregor is arguing his case for a title run, but still needs a few wins over name-brand talent beyond his small but undefeated 2-0 UFC record. And Brandao is definitely the biggest name he’s fought yet. But these are steep odds, so the obvious question is: are they justified?   Summary Stats:

Uber Tape FN45 McGregor-Brandao 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 glaring reach differential favoring McGregor, who will have an 8-inch reach advantage. While reports of Brandao’s reach fluctuate publicly (I use the agreed upon FightMetric/UFC value here), there’s no question that McGregor will be the rangier striker to some extent, and will also employ a Southpaw advantage. Readers of my book know there’s some interesting history behind left-handed fighters from the UK, and McGregor will certainly be riding high on his hometown’s support as the “kerry-fisted” pugilist. So the traditional Tale of the Tape here is a first clue as to why the odds are so stacked in his favor.   Striking Matchup: This is where the fight will start, and also where McGregor will want to keep it. With strong advantages in reach and stance, striking is also McGregor’s clearest in-cage talent (excluding fashion and self-aggrandizement). Although sample size is limited, he has shown very dangerous striking skills in his two performances so far, making short work of Marcus Brimage, and overcoming an underrated Max Holloway despite a blown knee. Although Brandao has very good accuracy with his power hand, he just doesn’t get to use it much. He is normally at a size disadvantage, which severely affects his pace and cage control, making it hard for him to dictate exchanges. More often than not he has to react or counter rather than lead the dance. His range disadvantage is also why he rarely uses any jabs at all – just 18% of his standing head strikes are jabs. So Brandao is dangerous as a power striker, he just doesn’t get to be dangerous very often. As the exchanges are tallied, it will be McGregor doing more damage, something that could eventually stop Brandao cold. Brandao’s “chin rating” is a little worse than average, and he has more career losses by T/KO than any other method. Throughout the Brazilian’s career he has generally absorbed more damage per minute than he has been able to dish out, and that trend will be exacerbated against the rangy McGregor, who could easily opt to back-peddle and launch precision counter strikes.   Grappling Matchup: The key to the ground matchup is simply whether or not Brandao can get the fight there without getting clipped on the way in. The submission credentials certainly favor the Brazilian, and McGregor’s only two career losses came by way of a tap. Brandao should know that his best chances to win will be on the mat. But McGregor knows this too, and will do his best to stay out of range and make Brandao pay for diving forward.  To date, no one has attempted a takedown against McGregor, so we don’t really know how his takedown defense will fare. Generally, great strikers who survive to higher ranks have good takedown defense too. It’s required to make a living with your hands in this sport. That will be an underlying theme for the scouts out there watching McGregor on Saturday, because his striking skills aren’t really in question; rather, his ability to stay standing against a grappling attack has yet to be proven. Should the fight hit the ground, things will get interesting. Brandao could try to hold McGregor down, or work for submissions. Brandao’s takedown success rate is actually quite good, so the threat is definitely real. And while Brandao only has two submission attempts in his UFC career, he converted both to submission wins. McGregor’s submission game has been a focus of his improvement in recent years since the submission losses from his earlier years, and he was even confident enough to initiate takedowns in his fight against Max Holloway. But don’t expect McGregor to take that risk here. Brandao’s grappling is definitely the key to any massive upset that could happen. So expect McGregor’s fight IQ to be on display in avoiding and neutralizing that threat.   Reed’s Pick: McGregor by TKO (click for latest MMA odds)   Reed’s Recommended Play:  The numbers are in agreement with favorite here, although the price is steep. McGregor should get the better of time spent standing up, and clearly has the weaponry to take advantage of Brandao’s chin. Should the fight drag on, he’ll work hard to prevent the Dublin fans from considering any boos – so expect an honest and highly motivated effort from the Irishman. McGregor will also benefit from the hometown crowd’s verbal acknowledgement of his strikes, and booing of any attempt by Brandao to stall in the clinch or with wrestling, further boosting his chances of winning rounds should the fight go the distance. Lots of people will parlay McGregor forcing the price higher, and for smaller value bets that will be necessary to make taking the favorite worth it. Predicting a finish time is always difficult, and even more so at the reduced rounds total of only 1.5 rounds. While the +120 price for an Under 1.5 round fight is tempting given the finishing potential of both fighters, it’s hard to rely on early aggressiveness in a main event fight where both fighters have a lot to lose. If you want to get better value banking on McGregor’s hands to eventually get the stoppage, consider a McGregor by TKO prop at -245 which is much cheaper than a straight play and allows for more time for the slugger to find his target. To hedge against Brandao’s only paths to victory, consider the hedge prop of +600 for Brandao Inside the Distance, which oddly is currently priced the same as Brandao by Submission but provides the added coverage of a lucky swing for the fences that drops McGregor, even though a submission is more likely than a KO. “Fightnomics” the book is now available on Amazon!  Follow along on Twitter for the latest UFC stats and MMA analysis.

Written by Reed Kuhn

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