This weekend Dana White will live up to his promise to his vacation-home neighbors by bringing the UFC to Maine for the first time. And before you downplay a Fight Night event in a remote corner of the country, realize that this card is pretty stacked for a FOX Sports slot. In fact, there are past and future contenders scattered across the card, and even on the untelevised prelims. Now let’s take a look at some of that talent and see if we can get a preview of where how some of the fights will go down. Here’s how the fighters stack up in a key metric of Distance Power Head Strike Accuracy*.
*Distance Power Head Strikes are punches and kicks thrown from a distance/standing position at the head of opponent’s, and are not jabs. This is arguably the most important strike that can be thrown in MMA, and is definitely the most dangerous. The UFC average for this metric is currently about 25%, but the average varies for fighters of varying weight classes. For more details and history standup striking metrics, get the book “Fightnomics” at Amazon.
The surprising answer is that the most accurate fighter on the card is heavyweight Shawn Jordan, who happens to be facing the least accurate striker. But there are a few big caveats here. First is that Jack May should arguably not be listed on the graph given his scant 4.4 minutes of UFC Octagon time. I left others off with higher sample size, but thought it was interesting enough to include May’s stats because of the disparity with his opponent. In his UFC debut May didn’t land a single standing punch. Heavyweights tend to have slightly higher strike accuracy, so the footballer turned MMA fighter Shawn Jordan already gets a boost there. Despite the tiny sample size on May, it’s still and interesting matchup imbalance. Flyweight Zach Makovsky is an interesting force to be reckoned with, and holds second place on this list. The new UFC flyweight and former Bellator champion is 2-0 so far in the UFC’s smallest (numerically-speaking) men’s weight class, making him an immediate contender in a division with a need for viable challengers to Mighty Mouse’s belt. The former Division 1 wrestler at Drexel has shown that even against fast-paced and elusive Flyweight opponents, he has the hand speed to outperform his peers with accurate striking. Next on the list is a trio of dangerous strikers that all perform well above average: Thiago Tavares, Ross Pearson and Ovince St-Preux. Of these fighters it’s Pearson that probably has the best reputation for his hands. Having recently outworked and out-landed Diego Sanchez, despite arguably one of the biggest judging robberies in UFC history, Pearson is getting credit from management for his solid performance with an even higher ranked opponent. Should Pearson avoid Maynard’s takedowns, the accuracy of his hands could make a big difference in the standup exchanges. Holding down the middle-ground in the lineup are: Tim Boetsch, Brad Tavares, Jussier (Formiga) Da Silva and Robbie Peralta. Boetsch and Tavares are matched up against one another, while Da Silva and Peralta will both be facing more accurate strikers in their matchups. In Peralta’s case however, he definitely gets a power advantage over his opponent despite being less accurate. Near the bottom of the card are two fighters with similar profiles in Gray Maynard and Ryan Bader. Both are wrestlers first, and both are also veterans that have consistently faced top-level talent. The combination of these two factors is a likely contributor to their low striking accuracy. When they’ve been effective, they haven’t always needed sharp hands – although since each is facing an accurate striker in their matchup this week this could still be a factor. Again, this card pretty loaded with talent for a non-PPV or FOX card, and that’s great news. After the unfortunate cancellation of UFC 176, and the corresponding extended break from UFC action, it will be nice to bring a solid card to fans right out of the gate. We may never see a 21-day break between UFC cards ever again! Hope you made the most of your free weekends, fight fans. “Fightnomics” the book is now available on Amazon! Follow along on Twitter for the latest UFC stats and MMA analysis.