UFC Fight Night 59 January 18, 2015 Featherweight Matchup: Conor McGregor vs Dennis Siver By @fightnomics Big Picture: Immediately after Conor McGregor’s 2013 UFC debut, the Featherweight division has had a new self-proclaimed title contender. If you ask McGregor, he’ll tell you he earned his title shot long ago, even before his first-round finishes of several of the division’s best. But finally, in this weekend’s main event in Boston, Dana White has confirmed that McGregor can earn a title shot at current champion Jose Aldo with a win over the #10 ranked Featherweight Dennis Siver. It may be a matchup between a #5 ranked fighter and a #10 ranked opponent, but there’s a title shot at stake, and the betting public has made it very clear that they believe in the McGregor hype train. That makes Conor’s fifth appearance in the Octagon more important than any before it. McGregor opened as a huge favorite at -600, but has since climbed to even more dizzying heights at -1200, with the current comeback on Siver at +775. The market is pricing McGregor at a 92% chance of victory, making him one of the biggest favorites of all-time. So what do the numbers say? Have his performances to date warranted this much juice? Summary Stats:
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Tale of Tape Matchup: The traditional tale of the tape is a clean sweep for the favorite. With a whopping 9.5-year youth advantage, a four-inch reach advantage, and even a Southpaw advantage at play, these factors already account for a large portion of McGregor’s status as a favorite over Siver. So far so good for an Irish title shot. And when we see the performance metrics, it only gets better. Striking Matchup: The UFC selected a fighter in Siver who is likely to strike with McGregor – once again avoiding testing any potential holes in McGregor’s ground game. And while Siver is a striker first with his base in Tae Kwon Do, McGregor appears well-suited to win the standup exchanges. Siver’s accuracy is low, but his pace is high. He is accustomed to pursuing opponents and using a lot of volume, sprinkled with the occasional powerful spinning back kick. Defensively, opponents have landed with accuracy similar to Siver’s, but when he gets hit, he is knocked down much more than is usual. His “chin” rating is way below average, and now on the wrong side of the 35-year “old” threshold he has suffered six knockdowns in his UFC career – more than anyone competing on the card. That profile seems tailor made for the accurate power striking of Conor McGregor. McGregor doesn’t waste much time with his jab, using a highly focused power striking attack that is very accurate. When he lands on target, he also knocks opponents down at a higher than average rate. And while his striking volume ratio isn’t as high as Siver’s, McGregor’s overall striking pace on his feet is even higher than the already high rate of Siver. Defensively, both men have good avoidance, but McGregor has yet to take serious damage or suffer a knockdown. Throw in the mix of long reach and youthful durability and it only accentuates the factors favoring McGregor. The differences here are stacked up supporting McGregor, confirming that Siver makes a ripe choice of opponents for McGregor to emphatically earn a title shot from. If this fight stays standing for long, McGregor has all the tools to land a shot powerful enough to end the fight, or at least set up a finish on the ground. Grappling Matchup: Neither man has attempted takedowns very frequently, but to date McGregor has used them at a slightly higher rate. Siver’s low takedown rate is compounded by his even lower success rate. His takedown defense is slightly above average with an overall ground control stat that is pretty average. While McGregor has logged even fewer minutes on the mat in the UFC than Siver, he has been dominant in those moments. Specifically he controlled Max Holloway on the ground despite a blown knee. McGregor’s training camps with Gunnar Nelson will surely boost his chances of surviving submissions and being comfortable should grappling come into play, but it’s unlikely we’ll see much of this. If Siver decides not to trade with McGregor, it will be a challenge to get top control. McGregor’s solid takedown defense to date, and Siver’s low success rate make it unlikely that the fight will see much of McGregor on his back. Reed’s Pick: McGregor Inside the Distance (Click for latest MMA odds) Reed’s Recommended Play: The numbers revealed a stacked deck in the main event, and a likely TKO victory supporting McGregor’s bid for a title shot. However, with the current line so extreme, there’s very little value in a straight play, and most bettors have likely inflated the price by using McGregor to parlays other plays. The limit of 1.5 rounds is strongly leaning towards a quick finish with the Under at -195, and the Over at +160. Featherweights finish about half their fights, so in theory the value is on the Over. But as we’ve seen, the matchup here seems tailor-made for another quick McGregor knockout finish. The question remains however not if, but when? The limit of 1.5 rounds is very tight, and further movement beyond two-to-one juice will limit the value of a big play on the Under. With a five-round fight scheduled, the safer angle is in the props, albeit with less value. When looking for parlay material, highly confident plays in the -200 to -300 range are best paired together. But even McGregor Inside the Distance or Fight Won’t Start Round 4 are priced beyond that range (currently -620 and -520, respectively). So those props are only good for a triple-parlay, or else you’ll use up all your bankroll in one play. The least juice is McGregor in Round 1 at just -130, but don’t go all in. McGregor will certainly come out aggressive and want to live up to his bold prediction of an early finish, but Siver may not play nice and simply eat punches – and he could employ stalling tactics with lots of clinching being the stronger man. Even McGregor by TKO is -500; also risky given that a knockdown could lead to a finish on the mat via a choke. Although this is the most likely scenario, for a very small hedge take McGregor by Submission at +1480 just in case. “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.