UFC 180 November 15, 2014 Featherweight Matchup: Dennis Bermudez vs Ricardo Lamas By @fightnomics Big Picture: In a matchup that could have eventual implications for Jose Aldo’s throne, #7 ranked Dennis Bermudez takes on #4 ranked Ricardo Lamas in a key Featherweight tussle. Bermudez is on a ridiculous seven-fight win streak, and a win here would put him at eight. And yet with Cub Swanson and Conor McGregor both making a lot of noise for title shots of their own, even his impressive win streak doesn’t guarantee a shot at the belt. Ricardo Lamas is one win removed from his own failed challenge to Aldo, and is looking to stay relevant in a suddenly very crowded division. Despite being ranked lower, the current odds favor Bermudez at -210, with the comeback on the higher-ranked underdog Lamas at +160. So far the betting public has come in slightly more in favor of Bermudez, pushing his odds higher than when they first opened. So is he justified as a favorite, despite the media’s lower ranking? Let’s check the numbers and find out. Summary Stats:
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Tale of Tape Matchup: The traditional metrics on the Tale of the Tape are close to a wash here. Lamas will enjoy a three-inch reach advantage, while Bermudez gets the 4.5-year Youth Advantage. Both differentials are small but significant, but probably cancel each other out. These two fighters remain in their physical peak range, and their stances are both Orthodox. Striking Matchup: The striking matchup is also close, but differences denote the styles of each. Lamas has been the more dangerous power striker on a strike-for-strike basis, but has lagged below average in his accuracy with a low 9 attempt-per-minute standup striking pace, historically being outworked by his opponents. Bermudez, on the other hand, has been more accurate and has done so at a much higher average pace at 16.1 attempts-per-minute, and has also tended to outwork his opponents. The pace differential is the largest of the pairings in the top three fights on the card because Bermudez is high for the division while Lamas is low. Some of the discrepancy in accuracy is made up for in Lamas by his superior defense, but again, these factors are close. Volume is a big indicator of who wins rounds, especially between two fighters who cancel each other out with accuracy versus defensive avoidance. While they may land approximately the same amount, Bermudez will be the busier fighter on his feet, and that gives him the edge standing up. Grappling Matchup: Yet we don’t expect the whole fight to take place on the feet, and here’s where things start to diverge. Despite the common wrestling base of both fighters, it turns out that Bermudez is one of the most effective wrestlers in UFC history. He’s tied for 4th all-time in Takedown Defense, and has controlled his opponents for an equally dominant 92% of his time spent on the mat. He attempts takedowns early and often, and lands them with slightly above average success. Contrast that with Lamas, who has attempted fewer takedowns, lands them at a below average success rate, and has takedown defense that is also below average. The combination of factors here suggests that Bermudez will be the one taking this to the ground first, and will also be the one controlling the fight there. In terms of submissions, while Lamas is technically more decorated in jiu jitsu, each fighter has secured the same number of wins via submission and attempt them at similar rates. This will not likely be the difference in this matchup, so the big edge on the ground goes to Bermudez due to his wrestling advantage. Reed’s Pick: The Over (Bermudez by Decision) Click for latest MMA odds Reed’s Recommended Play: The numbers support Bermudez effectively using his wrestling to help him grind this out. Lamas may be the more technical striker, but throwing kicks (as he tends to do) against a wrestler like Bermudez is bound to lead the fight to the mat. A finish is unlikely, but Bermudez does get the edge in enough key metrics to support him winning at least two rounds. If the line moves much further, however, skip the straight play for better value angles as Lamas is still a high quality fighter capable of keeping this competitive enough to lead to disagreement on the cards. The Over of 2.5 rounds is -210, the Under +160, suggesting the market is just as sure this fight will last a long time as they are that Bermudez will win, which is about 68% sure. Slightly less than half of Featherweight fights end early, so the Over is a little overpriced when taken blindly for the division. But after factoring in the lack of clearly threatening offensive weaponry and the solid defense of both men, I do agree that this fight is very likely going to a decision. I think the Over is better value for the price, but keep any eye on both lines to see if one drifts too far to play. “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.