Hector Lombard vs Josh Burkman – UFC 182 Statistical Analysis and Fight Pick

UFC 182 January 3, 2015 Welterweight Matchup: Hector Lombard vs Josh Burkman By @fightnomics   Big Picture:  Leading off the main card at UFC 182 is a Welterweight matchup between a man looking to maintain momentum towards a title shot, and another looking to justify a second run in the UFC. Hector Lombard seems to have hit his stride and is riding a two-fight win streak over solid competition, while longtime UFC veteran Burkman turned heads by choking Jon Fitch out cold in the World Series of Fighting, though still fell short of winning a title. Now Burkman returns to the UFC, with many remembering his big upset over Fitch. This has people wondering if he can pull off another impressive submission, but the market appears to have already taken a side. The #6 ranked Lombard opened as a sizable favorite and has since risen to an extreme -800 over Burkman the underdog at +550. The prices are extreme, but as we’ll see so are the performance metrics. Is it justified? Is there better value elsewhere in this matchup? Let’s sort it all out.   Summary Stats:

Uber Tape UFC182 Lombard-Burkman To see more Uber Tales of the Tape for this UFC fight card, check out MMA Oddsbreaker Premium.

  Tale of Tape Matchup: The traditional tale of the tape reveals that both fighters are getting on in years, which may be relevant information when predicting finishes. Older fighters are more likely to be knocked out, but less likely to be submitted. While Burkman is a little younger than Lombard, the more important takeaway is that they are both near the 35-year age threshold. Burkman gets the reach advantage of three-inches, though it is somewhat negated by Lombard’s Southpaw stance. Burkman is a veteran, so he shouldn’t feel too out of sorts facing Lombard, but given the notoriously powerful striking of the Cuban Burkman probably won’t be looking to engage too aggressively on the feet. Overall, Burkman gets a slight edge, but not by much. It’s the performance stats that reveal the true nature of these extreme odds.   Striking Matchup: The striking metrics are a complete sweep favoring Lombard. The Cuban most known for his Olympic caliber Judo has most succeeded in MMA with his powerful hands. He has excellent head striking accuracy and a high Knockdown Rate. Defensively, his head strike avoidance is well above average and he has yet to be dropped in the UFC. The one blip on his statline is his pace, which is below average and tends to lag that of his opponents. That’s been the reason behind two split decision losses where he had trouble pulling the trigger. This is a common symptom of fighters with short range, but it’s important to note that those two losses came at Middleweight against larger fighters who both had four-inch reach advantages, and higher volumes. At Welterweight, he’s improved his cage control and was able to defeat Jake Shields, a very high-pace (although low danger) striker. Burkman is up against a formidable challenge so even being “average” here won’t cut it. Unfortunately, several key metrics for him have been below average. His accuracy is on par with peers, but his pace, power, and perhaps most importantly his defense are all below average. When he trades hands he doesn’t normally keep up with opponents, and they have been more successful hitting him than he has been landing strikes on them. That’s a bad combination for the underdog here. Although Lombard will be at shorter range, he’s accustomed to that position, and this fight is less of a reach differential than he’s been in prior. Lombard will be looking to land hard shots on Burkman should he try to shoot in, and at some point Lombard should land something that does damage. The question will be how much Burkman can take, and for how long. If Burkman were better at defense, or capable of maintaining a much higher volume, there would be more of a threat for the upset. But that’s not what we see, so there’s a big advantage in the standup game for Lombard.   Grappling Matchup: The ground game is definitely a stylistic mismatch, pitting the Judo of Lombard against the dangerous submissions of Burkman. But Lombard also boasts a black belt in BJJ, so he is clearly competent on the mat despite the fact that he rarely ends up there. The question is whether or not Burkman can gain ground control long enough to work submissions, or even win rounds for that matter. And the stats don’t look good for Burkman there either. Burkman is quick to attempt takedowns, but his success rate is average, while Lombard’s takedown defense is very high at 86%. Although Lombard has been conservative but successful with his own offensive wrestling, it’s unlikely he’ll use it given his confidence in his striking. That will also prevent him from diving into any chokes. That means that Burkman is unlikely to get this fight to the mat. He could do it, obviously, and he remains a threat with submissions, but doing so will require pushing forward continuously and potentially walking right into Lombard dangerous hands.   Reed’s Pick: Lombard by T/KO (Click for latest MMA odds)   Reed’s Recommended Play:  It’s one of the most lopsided Uber Tapes we’ve ever seen, although there is more uncertainty than usual given Burkman’s time away from the Octagon. Still, Lombard’s statline is impressive enough not to try for the upset pick, although most value in taking his side straight up has been lost. At this price, Lombard can only be used in fun multi-play parlays. For better value, look to the totals and props. The totals limit of 1.5 rounds is tight, with the Over slightly more likely at -150, and the Under +120. In fights of extreme odds (and theoretically, correspondingly extreme mismatches), finishes are more likely. Hence the low totals limit. Burkman is just as aware of Lombard’s strengths as anyone, and so may want to stall and tire the more muscled man out with lots of clinching and wrestling. And that could draw the fight out, as could fear and the choice to circle extensively. But it’s the accurate and powerful striking of Lombard combined with the age and poor striking defense of Burkman that makes the Under 1.5 rounds at plus money a decent play. Also look for a prop on Lombard by T/KO at a much more reasonable +100, or simply use a “Fight Does Not Go the Distance” prop at -170 in parlays.   “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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