Snapstats: Who is the Most Diverse Striker at UFC 182?

By @fightnomics   This weekend’s UFC 182 event will feature several fighters who really like to use kicks in their standup game, and a few who are very reluctant to do so. And the pace of striking between these fighters may also very significantly. So let’s take a look at target selection and pace for all the fighters at UFC 182 with sufficient sample size.

Striking Targets at UFC 182

Numbers are rounded. Normal target selection in the UFC is 80% at the head, with an average Standup Strike Attempt Rate of 11.5/minute. For more on benchmarks for MMA statistics get the book “Fightnomics” at Amazon.

  The Kickers: Most MMA fans know that when Cowboy Cerrone enters the cage they’re going to see a healthy dose of Muay Thai leg kicks. In fact, 18% of all his standing strike attempts are leg kicks, while another 16% are kicks to the body. But he’s not the most diverse striker on the card. That honor goes to current UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Jon Jones, who uses a mix of 22% leg kicks, and 15% body kicks. Only 64% of his strikes are aimed at the head, which is the lowest share of head strike attempts of anyone at UFC 182. That may be no surprise from the guy who utilizes a variety of spinning attacks and even the unpopular front kick to the knee of opponents, and it’s been enough for him to win the standup exchanges in all of his fights to date. But a few other names on the list may surprise you with the diversity of their target selection, like Marcus Brimage and Kyoji Horiguchi. Both men don’t use many leg kicks, only 10% and 4% respectively, but they use an abnormally high share of body kicks – 18% and 20% respectively. Expect to see both men launching their kicks early and often.   The Head Hunters: Fighters who target the head a lot could be doing so for a variety of reasons. Perhaps they come from a boxing base, or just haven’t emphasized more diverse striking styles in their training. Perhaps they are short for their division, making the slower moving kicks from long range unlikely to land on target, leading them to focus on counter punching or aggressive attempts to close distance. In Daniel Cormier’s case, it’s both. The short-ranged wrestler is very much a head hunter in his striking style, which contrasts sharply with the diverse kicking attack of Jon Jones. However, despite Cormier’s wrestling base, he has still been confident in his hands, if not his feet. The wrestler has felled much bigger opponents with powerful punches even though his striking game hasn’t fully utilized the breadth of strikes allowed in MMA. Expect a similar style of headhunting from former wrestler Danny Castillo of Team Alpha Male, who relies on an 87% share of head strikes while standing. The fighters least likely to be using kicks are both short (in terms of wingspan) for their respective divisions, Shawn Jordan and Evan Dunham. Both men launch over 90% of their standing strikes at the heads of their opponents. Neither fighter has seen much success in terms of their Knockdown Rate (which are below average), but at least for Dunham his blistering pace of 20 strike attempts per minute may make up for his lack of diversity. Pace is an important metric to determining who wins a round, but in general kicks are more impressive to judges than punches.   Pace of Action: While Dunham versus Damm will likely have the fastest paced standup exchanges on the card (mostly because of Dunham), expect the matchup between Lombard and Burkman to be much slower. These two fighters combine for less than 17 strike attempts per minute while on their feet, the least of any pairing on the card. Both fighters strike at a below average pace, and the punching power of Lombard contrasting with the submission threat of Burkman may make each may reluctant to press forward too aggressively.    “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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