UFC on FOX 12 July 26, 2014 Welterweight Matchup: Robbie Lawler vs Matt Brown By Reed Kuhn, @Fightnomics Big Picture: It’s hard to top the last week of UFC action, but those in the know realize why we had such spectacular fights in Atlantic City and Dublin: the small cage. Now with one more fight card before going on the longest UFC hiatus in a year (and possibly the longest we’ll ever see again), matchmakers loaded the FOX card with a number one contender bout that has had media and fans frothing since the first announcement. The #1-ranked Welterweight contender Robbie Lawler opened as a clear favorite, and has since climbed to -370, with the comeback on the perpetual underdog Brown currently +310. Both men have pulled off numerous upsets in the last two years, but only one will get title shot against Johny Hendricks. Summary Stats:
To see more Uber Tales of the Tape for this UFC fight card, check out MMA Oddsbreaker Premium.
Tale of Tape Matchup: While Brown gets a slight edge in reach, Lawler’s Southpaw stance will trump that advantage. Lawler has faced much longer opponents before and survived (even excelled), and his stance has proven to open up some dangerous paths to the head and body of opponents. Given the amount of power in this matchup, the fight will likely boil down to a single well-placed strike that sets up a finish for one fighter, and the stance edge will boost Lawler’s chances of being the one that delivers it first. Striking Matchup: No doubt the reason that media and fans blew Twitter’s roof upon hearing this fight’s announcement was the thought of these two heavy-handed strikers slinging leather. That’s likely what will happen, as neither fighter is predominantly a wrestler. The stats for Lawler, however, can be a little deceiving, as much of his cage time has been spent against larger Middleweights. Isolating more recent fights only boosts his performance metrics. Both men have accurate striking, and also above average Knockdown Rates. Defensively, Lawler will have the slightly better strike avoidance and also the better chin. One metric that is not explicit is a fighter’s ability to with stand a body strike. But we do have anecdotal evidence that Brown is very vulnerable to body kicks, and Lawler definitely has the power and skill to exploit this weakness. There’s no question that each man knows how to finish a fight, but the issue of durability favors Lawler to survive the early exchanges and be the one to do damage first. Grappling Matchup: Matt Brown has used a wrestling-centric attack in certain matchups before (vs. Thompson and Silva), and a wise strategist would recommend that he do so again here. Lawler on the other hand, has only landed one takedown in the last seven years (!), and has lost twice when he was taken down multiple times by experienced grapplers (vs. Souza and Kennedy). If there’s a path to victory for Brown, it’s by staying close and grinding Lawler down on the mat. But Lawler is no stranger to takedown attempts from opponents, and his ability to get back to his feet is pretty good – especially against Welterweights. Lawler was game enough to overcome stifling grapplers like Rory MacDonald and Jake Ellenberger, and in both cases landed late Knockdowns that secured those fights. If Brown does choose to pursue this path (and I’m not sold that he will), Lawler is experienced enough to deal with it, and still find ways to punch is opponent on the way in. And if not, don’t expect Lawler to be the one trying to make this a wrestling match. Reed’s Pick: Lawler by TKO (click for latest MMA odds) Reed’s Recommended Play: The new and improved Robbie Lawler belongs in the elite echelons of the UFC welterweight division. Lawler hasn’t been finished since his return to Welterweight in the UFC, and even took two of the five rounds (officially), in his only loss against Johny Hendricks in a title fight. Lawler’s sprawl and brawl are top level, and he matches dangerous offensive weapons with a tight defense. Brown could invite a striking war. But it will be Lawler’s durability that will be the difference, allowing him to survive the onslaught and deliver some fight ending strikes of his own. Playing Lawler at this price is justified, but expect him to get bet up further as he’s thrown into parlays with Johnson. Don’t let it go too far though, Brown is always a value pick at the right price. With so much violence in one cage, the Under of 2.5 rounds at -145 also seems like a solid play. It hedges against yet another miraculous upset by Brown via strikes, but it’s also plenty of time for the two to get over any initial skittishness and for the leather (and shins and knees) to start flying. A prop on Lawler by TKO is also a more valuable direct approach to the matchup outside of playing Lawler in parlays. “Fightnomics” the book is now available on Amazon! Follow along on Twitter for the latest UFC stats and MMA analysis.