UFC Fight Night 60 February 14th, 2015 Featherweight Matchup: Max Holloway vs Cole Miller By @fightnomics Big Picture: In the co-main event in Denver this weekend, an often underrated young gun in Max Holloway will look to extend his current four-fight win streak against veteran submission ace Cole Miller. Despite just being 23 years old, Holloway has already fought 10 times in the UFC, and he is the youngest fighter ever to do so. Miller has been fighting in the UFC since 2007 and has impressive 15 fights of his own on the biggest MMA stage. Holloway is technically on pace to appear in 37 UFC bouts if he sticks around to the age of just 30, and that’s pretty remarkable. So despite the age discrepancy, the experience difference isn’t very big after all here. Ranked #13 in the Featherweight division, Holloway is a currently a -400 favorite over the unranked Miller at +325. That’s a sizable price for a guy who still flies under the radar against a crafty veteran like Miller. So let’s see if the numbers agree with the market. Summary Stats:
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Tale of Tape Matchup: The traditional tale of the tape reveals the biggest difference is the seven-year Youth Advantage for Holloway. Given where these guys are in their respective careers, that difference is magnified a bit, making Holloway the much fresher and likely more durable fighter. Granted, Miller will have a three-inch reach advantage, but as we’ll see, the striking metrics still favor the Hawaiian Holloway. Fun fact: there have been more Hawaiians per capita in the UFC than any other state. Striking Matchup: First, I should note that Holloway’s data doesn’t include his recent first-round knockout of Akira Corassani. The fight didn’t last long, so most of Holloway’s metrics wouldn’t change much. Except, that is, for his Knockdown Rate. He now has six knockdowns with a Knockdown Rate that is closer to Miller’s. Holloway isn’t really a one-punch KO striker, but he does finish fights down the stretch by pouring on the strikes. In fact, his 1.0 volume ratio is somewhat misleading, mostly because he’s forced his opponents into barnburners while on the feet, averaging about 16 strike attempts while standing at a distance. And he’s managed that high pace while maintaining very high power striking accuracy, and excellent head strike avoidance. Miller comes in close to average in nearly all his striking metrics. He’s scored knockdowns at a slightly higher rate than his division’s average, and also operates at a high rate of volume. But on technical merit of accuracy and strike avoidance, he comes in right around the average. Overall these metrics lean solidly towards Holloway as the favorite. On a per exchange basis, Holloway will be landing more punches, and eating fewer. In the long run, that could be bad for Miller who has definitely taken damage in the wars of his long career. Miller more likely will want to get this to the mat to work his excellent submission game and take Holloway out of his preferred position of trading leather. Grappling Matchup: The ground game is much less certain, and should favor the more experienced grappler Miller. A BJJ black belt out of American Top Team, Miller has racked up 15 wins by submission through his career out of 21 victories, and he has never once been submitted despite facing the who’s who of the UFC’s toughest division over the years. But he’s done that by fighting mostly off his back, as his ground control stat actually reveals below average control over the years. But sweeps and transitions are a key part of Millers submission attack, meaning he certainly doesn’t mind being put on his back, which may be why his takedown defense is actually well below average. So will Miller pull guard or let Holloway take him down? That’s unlikely here. Holloway, through 10 fights to date in the UFC, has yet to land a single takedown in the Octagon. He’s only even attempted one! So the likelihood of Holloway initiating a grappling contest with Miller is extremely unlikely. That leaves Miller’s wrestling offense versus Holloway’s defense. Again, the numbers aren’t favorable for the underdog. Miller’s takedown success rate is below average, while Holloway’s defense is above average. Add in the fact that everyone knows there’s a stylistic mismatch here, and Holloway should know that he’ll need to stay standing and moving give himself the best chance. He has the tools for this; the only question will be if he has the foresight and proper training to stay off the ground. Reed’s Pick: Holloway to Win (Click for latest MMA odds) Reed’s Recommended Play: The stats support Holloway’s standup game to control the fight and be the dominant force here. He should be able to stay off the mat, but if he isn’t he is certainly more vulnerable there. The threat of Miller’s submissions will keep the lines from getting too out of hand, more so than in the fight immediately prior. Miller has always been hit or miss – sometimes looking like an aggressive submission ace, but other times succumbing to strikes in defeat. This matchup fits that mold, but the numbers at least favor Holloway to be in the driver’s seat. However, at the current price Holloway is primarily parlay fodder. The limit is 2.5 rounds, with the Over currently -145 and +115 for the Under. That slight lean towards a decision is about right for a Featherweight bout. But given Holloway’s quick hands and the potential submission race on the mat, there’s plenty of finishing-potential in the fight to justify a plus-money play on the Under. Miller isn’t more knockout prone than average, but he has been battle-worn and the strikes can definitely add up. It may not happen right out of the gates, but a TKO finish from Holloway later in the fight also wouldn’t be a surprise on paper. And should they stand and trade long enough, this could also be a Fight of the Night candidate, especially given the high combined striking pace these fighters put on. “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.