By @fightnomics The main event at UFC 183 presents two living legends facing off in a very unpredictable bout due to unprecedented layoffs. But what shouldn’t be surprising is the style of striking that each man brings into the Octagon on fight night, as we have loads of historical data between them. The basic gist is that Silva is the precision knockout artist, while Diaz is the aggressive volume striker. As we’ll see, the numbers tell a very clear story of contrasting styles, but they don’t necessarily tell us which style will prevail this weekend. We do know that both fighters have been reluctant to go to the ground despite high level jiu jitsu credentials, so if they remain true to form, we should see a fascinating striking duel.
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Pace Nick Diaz is aggressive both inside and out of the cage. His seemingly irreverent attitude translates to a high-pressure, aggressive style of fighting that often leads to mocking his opponents mid-fight as he presses forward. On paper he attempts 50% more strikes than his opponents, and fires off nearly 20 strikes per minute, far more than anyone at UFC 183. Anderson Silva, on the other hand, has found a way to slow his fights down to a snail’s pace, which ultimately leads to him looking like the only fighter moving in real-time when he decides to engage. Despite matching the volume of his opponents evenly in strike attempts, the overall pace of activity in his fights is just over five strike attempts per minute while standing. This is just a fraction of the speed that Diaz prefers to operate at. So will Diaz be able to force a shootout, or will Silva’s power finally lead to some respect in the cage from Diaz? Accuracy While Nick Diaz is no slouch in terms of his precision, especially with his frequent and high-volume jab, there are few snipers like Anderson Silva. When he finally engages opponents, his strikes have startling accuracy with both his jab and his power hand. The net accumulation favors the volume however, in that Diaz lands more strikes per minute of action than Silva. But Silva’s hesitancy to fully engage would only be a problem if he weren’t so dangerous with his strikes. Strike Mix The difference in style between these fighters is very pronounced in terms of their strike selection. Diaz uses an abnormally high mix of jabs, but is also very much a head hunter with 89% of his standing strikes aimed at the head of opponents. Despite throwing less heat, he still hits his opponents in the head quite frequently. Just asked BJ Penn, who took 119 shots to the face from Diaz in just a three-round fight. Fortunately for Penn, he has one of the toughest chins of all time. Meanwhile Silva uses a very diverse mix of strikes, and more than twice the usual rate of leg kicks, with an otherwise more balanced ratio of jabs to power strikes. Given the gruesome nature of his last injury, it will be interesting to see if and when Silva employs a leg kick while measuring his opponent. Surely, the Brazilian fans will react if he is able to get over that mental obstacle as it will be a sign of the Spider’s return to form. Power & Damage Here is where Silva truly shines. With 17 career knockdowns in the UFC, he is the most prolific knockout artist in history. On a strike-for-strike basis, his efficiency in dropping opponents is similarly epic. The Knockdown Rate of 16% translates into needing just six power head strikes to land on average before his opponent falls down. Diaz on the other hand, needs over 30 power head strikes to land. The damage done with Silva’s strikes is also apparent, in that 18% of the rounds he fights in results in visible damage (cuts or significant swelling) to his opponents. Diaz also damages his opponents more than average, but only at a 10% rate. Defense Once again there is a contrast here. The aggressive style of Diaz is only possible with the ability to withstand strikes on the way forward. In Strikeforce and UFC action, Diaz has received 361 strikes to the head (jab and power) while standing and trading. Silva has eaten just 66 total head strikes while standing. But both men have been knocked down exactly twice from those amounts of strikes. Specifically, Diaz can take 143 power head strikes between knockdowns, while Silva has only been able to absorb 32 power head strikes. The “chin” of Silva is now the biggest question going into this matchup, as he will likely have a chance to hit Diaz, but possibly at the expense of taking a punch back. Two legends, two unpredictable returns to the Octagon, and two very different striking styles to consider. It’s uncertain, but it’s still quite compelling to see which fighter, and which style will be victorious. “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.