Patrick Cote vs Stephen Thompson – UFC 178 Statistical Analysis and Fight Pick

UFC 178 September 27, 2014 Lightweight Matchup: Stephen Thompson vs Patrick Cote By @fightnomics   Big Picture:  In a talent-stacked fight card, it may be surprising to see a one-time title challenger taking on a highly skilled up-and-comer. Although perhaps less surprising than these same two fighters being unranked within the loaded division they compete in. Either way, deep on the undercard airing on FOX Sports 1 this weekend will be a sleeper Fight of the Night contender when Patrick Cote and Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson face off. This is the type of matchup that will launch the winner into striking range of a ranked opponent. Thompson opened the clear favorite and has landed at -350, with the underdog Cote currently at +290. That means Wonderboy is as big a favorite as Jorge Masvidal (-360) over James Krause, but not quite as big as Dominick Cruz (-400) over Takeya Mizugaki. Let’s take a look at the stats to see if Thompson is justified as such a clear favorite.   Summary Stats:

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  Tale of Tape Matchup: The two fighters are similarly sized and both use an Orthodox stance. But the big difference is age. Wonderboy is not only younger, he’s taken a lot less damage in his young MMA career than Patrick Cote, who may be fighting his last fight on the better side of age 35. Slight edge here goes to Thompson.   Striking Matchup: Rarely do we see a clean sweep of performance metrics favoring a single fighter. Normally there’s a little give and take, even in a striking mismatch. But in this case, Thompson’s specialty rings true in the statline, although one could argue it may be slightly inflated by his short career and less experienced competition. Still, it’s impressive when you consider what he’s done in his 4-1 UFC career to date. The numbers show an edge to the former kickboxing champion in power, accuracy, pace, and defense. He has excelled at keeping his distance from opponents and landing a variety of strikes precisely on target. He also mixes in a high share of kicks, which probably drops his overall accuracy, but boosts his Knockdown Rate. If he can keep the proper range on Cote, Thompson could have a field day with the older fighter’s chin and historically below average striking defense. So the big question will be whether Thompson can keep his range. There’s two ways to neutralize the threat of Wonderboy’s kickboxing: clinching and takedowns. First let’s consider the clinch game. Cote spends 22% of his cage time in the clinch, which is about average, and overall less than Thompson has spent (28%). And when Cote was in the clinch, he was only in a dominant position for 36% of those minutes, compared to Wonderboy at 58%. Although Cote is busier while in the clinch with his strike attempts, that only means his opponents have more opportunities to break free. So overall, we don’t see a lot of good evidence that Cote will be able to stifle Thompson using the clinch, although he may still try.   Grappling Matchup: And that leaves the ground game. Patrick Cote’s career takedown success rate is 23%, which is well below the UFC average. He attempts takedowns at a slightly below average rate, but still that’s more than Thompson tries for takedowns. It’s likely that Cote will attempt them early and often against a known striking specialist, but his historical success rate doesn’t suggest that he’s a lock to get the fight to the ground. Defensively, Thompson has defended 64% of the takedowns he’s faced, slightly better than the average defense rate, and overall his opponents have attempted far more takedowns that he has. Thompson found out the hard way against Matt Brown that the best striker in the world will be neutralized if they can’t stay off of their back. So expect that Thompson will be working on that aspect of his game. While the strategy might be obvious, the numbers don’t give Cote as clear chance to follow through with the necessary tactics. Should Cote actually get the fight to the ground, he has held opponents down well, but only has one submission attempt and zero taps to his credit. He may be able to win a round with a takedown, but he’ll still have to repeat the feat each round while moving forward directly into Thompson’s strikes.   Reed’s Pick: Thompson by TKO (click for latest MMA odds)   Reed’s Recommended Play:  We have to be careful not to discount the experience of Cote, or his strength of schedule that includes many of the all-time greats in MMA. But when facing a dangerous striker like Thompson, you’ll have to fight fire with ice, and that means a dominant takedown and ground game to neutralize the threat, and we just don’t see it. So Wonderboy should get the biggest win of his career this weekend, one that will add a big name to his UFC fight credentials and will put him within striking distance of the Welterweight ranks. Based on the steep odds, however, Thompson straight up is starting to lose value, so use him in parlays to mitigate exposure or look for a prop angle. The Over of 2.5 rounds is -165, the Under +125. Plus money for Welterweights on the Under is about right, but I see increased potential for a finish given Cote’s normally fearless attitude, his aging chin, and the precision violence of Wonderboy’s striking attack. The Under might be a decent upset pick, but also wait until later in the week and look for value in Thompson by KO (or Inside the Distance) at a more reasonable price in the -170 to -200 range. “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.

Written by Reed Kuhn

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