UFC 181 December 6, 2014 Lightweight Matchup: Tony Ferguson vs Abel Trujillo By @fightnomics Big Picture: There’s a potentially fan-friendly barnburner leading off the pay-per-view portion of UFC 181 when Lightweight sluggers Tony Ferguson and Abel Trujillo face off. Despite neither man being ranked, each is sporting a nice win streak within the UFC’s deepest division, and hoping to breach the upper ranks with yet another win. Each has only lost once in the UFC, and both of those were against currently highly ranked Lightweights. It’s a solid matchup on paper, but only one can move forward in the division. Ferguson is currently the favorite at -250, the underdog Trujillo at +210. These are in the middle of the pack for the evening’s main card betting odds, making Ferguson a bigger favorite than Hendricks and similar to Pettis, but not as big a favorite as the Heavyweights Duffee or Browne. Let’s see if the stats support this line. Summary Stats:
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Tale of Tape Matchup: The glaring differential on the tale of the tape is the six inches of reach favoring Ferguson. That’s because Ferguson is long for a Lightweight, while Trujillo is shorter than average. That’s a big deal right there, and with identical stance and age this advantage alone should lead to a sizable boost to Ferguson’s win probability. Tactically, it will also affect other factors during the fight. Striking Matchup: With such a big reach differential the striking exchanges will inherently favor Ferguson, who also has good skills at the end of his long reach. Although his power accuracy is low, he has a balanced and versatile striking attack that is high paced with above average power. Trujillo is a head hunter. Not only does he throw an absurd 98% of all his standing strikes at the head of his opponents, 75% of those are power strikes. He doesn’t mess around with kicks or jabs, he just swings for the fences. And recently that’s actually worked for him, with two striking stoppages in his last two fights. But keep in mind, those knockouts came against fighters with a reach of 70-72 inches, not the lengthy range he’ll be up against versus Ferguson. And when Trujillo fought Varner, he was in trouble before landing a Hail Mary punch that ended the fight. While Trujillo is certainly dangerous, he’s not really the “technical” striker that Ferguson is. Round-to-round expect Ferguson to connect better on the exchanges. He’ll need to keep the proper range to avoid Trujillo’s haymakers, but the striking advantage should favor Ferguson overall. Grappling Matchup: Both men have collegiate wrestling experience, but haven’t much used it in their UFC careers. For all his headhunting ways, Trujillo has attempted takedowns at a much higher rate and spent more time on the mat than Ferguson. However, it’s Ferguson who has been more dangerous with submissions, attempting them at a higher rate and getting the only UFC submission finish between them when he fought Mike Rio. This could end up being a leather-trading battle, but if Trujillo decides to wrestle, Ferguson can be held down for a few rounds making for a lot of risk with the judges’ cards. He learned this lesson against Team Alpha Male’s Danny Castillo in his last fight, with Ferguson squeaking by with a Split Decision victory and a verbal reminder that if that was a prison fight, he would have been in trouble. For what that’s worth. While this fight should mostly take place on the feet, the ground game is somewhat of a wash between Trujillo’s top control and Ferguson’s submission game. Reed’s Pick: Ferguson to win (Click for latest MMA odds) Reed’s Recommended Play: Ferguson is justified as the favorite here, but at the current price should be used in parlays with other justifiable favorites like Anthony Pettis. He should get the win, the question is how – as Fergusons strikes and submissions are both dangerous, and he also knows how to win rounds. Trujillo’s clearest path to victory is limited to holding Ferguson down for three rounds, or getting past the range differential and landing a big punch. While he’s more capable of the latter, the scenario is unlikely compared to the current odds. The Over of 2.5 rounds is +125, the Under -155, meaning the market is leaning towards these guys to end the fight early. With the dangerous striking of both men, that’s a justifiable way to lean, and the price for the Under isn’t too steep. Taking the Under also hedges Ferguson’s victory with the small chance of a Trujillo knockout. “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.