UFC 180 November 15, 2014 Welterweight Matchup: Kelvin Gastelum vs Jake Ellenberger By @fightnomics Big Picture: In the co-main event from Mexico City is another pairing of ranked fighters where the lower ranked competitor is favored over the higher ranked one. When undefeated TUF 17 winner Kelvin Gastelum takes on former Welterweight contender Jake Ellenberger, there will certainly be implications for the winner and their potential for a title shot, possibly as soon as late-2015. The #11 ranked Gastelum has surged to a -230 favorite over #8 ranked underdog Ellenberger at +190. The media thinks Ellenberger is better, despite a two-fight losing streak. The market disagrees. So what do the numbers say? Summary Stats:
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Tale of Tape Matchup: The traditional metrics on the Tale of the Tape are a mix in this matchup. Gastelum has a 6.5-year Youth Advantage and is a Southpaw, but Ellenberger is the slightly rangier fighter. Both fighters are still in their physical prime and, if anything, we may have yet to see Gastelum truly mature physically. Overall, a small edge goes to Gastelum, but it’s mostly a wash. Striking Matchup: The striking matchup is very close, but there’s some specific give and take that we should expect to see. Their power striking accuracy is virtually identical, as is their striking defense. So the critical differences here are really Gastelum’s pace, and Ellenberger’s power. Gastelum operates at a higher than average overall pace while on his feet (12.2 attempts per minute) and tends to match his opponents strike for strike. Ellenberger on the other hand, throws just 7.3 attempts per minute while standing and has been outworked by opponents in the past. This was painfully evident against Rory MacDonald when Ellenberger just couldn’t pull the trigger against an onslaught of rangy and accurate jabs. But Ellenberger won’t be at a range disadvantage here, and there’s no question he hits hard. With eight knockdowns scored during his UFC tenure, Ellenberger has a knockdown rate that is way above the division average, and certainly well above Gastelum’s fairly average knockdown rate. Ellenberger has taken most of his career wins by knockout, and he was the only man in Strikeforce/UFC history to knock out Jake Shields. So who really gets the edge here in the power versus pace matchup? Well, on a rounds basis you have to favor Gastelum if he stays busy, but Ellenberger is more likely to do damage and get a finish with his hands. It’s very close overall. Grappling Matchup: Both guys here have shown good wrestling, but Ellenberger has the more noteworthy stats. His takedown defense has been nearly impeccable, and he’s just a few successful defenses away from qualifying for a spot in the UFC record books. That stout defense has led him to be in control on the mat the vast majority of the time, even if he hasn’t been very busy once getting there. Gastelum, although he showed solid wrestling in his surprise upset over Uriah Hall, has not truly differentiated himself on the mat. While his takedown success is good, his defense is precisely average, and overall he doesn’t make many attempts to go to the ground. So Ellenberger is the more likely man to gain top control, despite the fact that he is not likely to go for submissions. Overall, the edge here leans Ellenberger. Reed’s Pick: Ellenberger by late TKO (Click for latest MMA odds) Reed’s Recommended Play: The fight has a lot of similarities to the Bermudez-Lamas matchup, and yet the odds are flipped. The numbers give Ellenberger a decent shot at an upset, so the run on Gastelum’s odds are not to be chased. Depending on where things settle, Ellenberger at reasonable plus money is a worthwhile play given the closeness of the standup and the advantages on the mat. Ellenberger has only lost to title/contender talent in the UFC, and Gastelum hasn’t quite proven himself to be that caliber of fighter just yet. He might be, but then that’s why this fight is pretty important for the future of the Welterweight division. The Over of 2.5 rounds is -140, the Under +110, meaning the market thinks these two are just slightly more likely to go to a decision than the average pair of Welterweights. Given the lack of submission threats from these two, it’s unlikely to end early from a tap. But a knockout is still a possibility, and it’s Ellenberger who is more likely to get it. Therefore, stay away from the Over/Under, because if you believe Ellenberger’s stats, you’ll get better value playing him straight up at a much higher return. A prop with a likely hit is Not Gastelum Inside the Distance for -195, which assumes this probably goes the distance, and if it ends early it’s because Ellenberger landed a big shot. “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.