By @fightnomics When Hauser (or was it Quaid?) arrives at Mars in the 1990 classic “Total Recall” his disguise warned: “Get ready for a surprise!” Well, glancing at the stat sheet for UFC Fight Night 50, one number leapt off the page like an exploding head thrown at you by the Governator. Heavyweight Alistair Overeem has been connecting his distance power head strikes with 46% accuracy. Granted, heavyweights do tend have higher accuracy by this metric thanks to less mobile and elusive targets, but 46% is just bonkers. In fact, it’s the highest striking accuracy among all active UFC fighters with at least 50 minutes of data. Cyrille Diabate had held the record at an even more absurd 55%, but he recently retired. Now the honor of the most accurate slugger in the UFC falls on The Reem. Expect his striking to be on full display this Friday night when he meets Ben Rothwell in the Octagon in Connecticut.
Distance power head striking accuracy changes by weight class, and even by round, but the overall UFC average is around 25% for this key metric. For more on the nuances MMA striking statistics get the book “Fightnomics” at Amazon.
After Overeem, there’s a pretty competitive batch of strikers competing on the card, led by Overeem’s own opponent Ben Rothwell. However, if you think we’re in for a precision striking duel between these heavyweights in the co-main event, keep in mind that Rothwell has the worst power head strike defense on the entire card. So that means the most accurate striker is paired with the one with the worst defense. That’s an explosive combination, and perhaps also why Overeem is now north of a five-to-one favorite. Next on the list is another pairing in Al Iaquinta and Rodrigo Damm, who will face off in a lightweight scrap. Iaquinta has several slight advantages on the feet, so look for Damm to want to work his grappling game there. Justin Scoggins is an unranked up-and-comer in the Flyweight division, but he’ll have the more accurate striking metrics over former title challenger John Moraga. With a win, the odds favorite Scoggins could make the biggest leap up the ranks after this weekend. Another even pairing is Charles Oliveira and Nik Lentz who will face off in a featherweight rematch of their first meeting that resulted in a no contest. Although both fighters land with a slightly above average accuracy of 28%, it’s Oliveira who will have a big range advantage in reach, making him the more likely striker to land from the outside. Interestingly, grappling specialist Ronaldo Souza comes in with higher accuracy than the striker Gegard Mousasi in the evening’s main event. But a reach differential favors Mousasi, as does experience in trading leather. Mousasi also has the best striking defense on the card, so don’t expect Jacare to dominate on the feet. This is a worthy main event, and whoever makes it through should be in the running for a title eliminator, or even injury-backup status for the next title shot at Middleweight. Rafael Natal and Chris Camozzi straddle the benchmark for average accuracy, with a slight edge to the Brazilian. Natal should be the more technical striker of the two, but pace and gas tank give Camozzi a possible route to the upset. Coming in at the end of the line are two crafty lightweight grapplers who have been more successful on the mat than on their feet, Joe Lauzon and Mike Chiesa. Stylistically this could end up being a high level chess match, although on the feet size and striking pace definitely favor Chiesa. Any findings that are surprises to you? All in all there’s a lot of talent on this free Friday night card, so there will be 100% fewer complaints than last weekend! “Fightnomics” the book is now available on Amazon! Follow along on Twitter for the latest UFC stats and MMA analysis, or on Facebook if you prefer.