UFC Fight Night 66 May 16th, 2015 Featherweight Matchup: Frankie Edgar vs Urijah Faber By @fightnomics The main event of an online-only international Fight Card isn’t always must-see MMA. But in the case of UFC Fight Night in Manila, two fighters who have been high-profile UFC mainstays will meet in a weight class in which neither was competing in just a couple years ago. The Featherweight meeting between Frankie Edgar and Urijah Faber will also force a situation where one fighter will walk away from a non-title fight in that division without a win for the first time ever. This is pretty remarkable, given the longevity and continuously high-level of competition both men have faced. And yet here they are, each trying to stay on the matchmaker’s speed dial for another title shot. But if this matchup is still lacking in direct title implications, also remember that Edgar and Faber are not only highly skilled, but have much more “heart” than most. To see them go toe-to-toe should offer a fans a relentlessly good show. Despite universal applause for the matchup, the market has clearly come down on one side. The #2 ranked Featherweight Edgar is currently a -450 favorite over the #3 ranked Bantamweight Faber at +360. Those odds are fairly steep considering the quality of the underdog, and the fact that he’s never lost a non-title fight, but the stats also support Edgar as the favorite. Let’s see why. Summary Stats:
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Tale of Tape Matchup: The traditional tale of the tape reveals a shocking insight: Edgar is actually bigger than an opponent. It’s been many years since Edgar had a size advantage over anyone, which is one reason Dana White encouraged him to drop down from Lightweight after his battles with much larger opponents like Gray Maynard and Benson Henderson. Faber also dropped weight classes not that long ago, so this will be a step back up for him against new competition in his old division. The signs here favor Edgar, who will have a slight reach advantage, and is also a few years younger than the “California Kid.” Striking Matchup: The striking matchup here has some tradeoffs, but appears to support Edgar on a round-by-round basis. Edgar has drastically overhauled his striking game since first entering the sport, and now mixes up his high-paced attack with much more than pure boxing. He always had the wrestling base, but now his offensive threats force opponents to choose the lesser of evils, which they generally have not done well with lately. Faber on the other hand, has also developed a striking game from a wrestling base, but in a very different way. Faber packs a lot of power, and can be seen coiling his power hand ready to unleash it on an incoming striker. The problem is that all that time waiting to counter costs him on his volume, and the result is a low overall pace and total output, and a tendency to get outworked by opponents. The combination of opposing styles here means we should expect Edgar to be dictating the pace of standup, initiating the exchanges and landing more volume than Faber. But it also means that Faber will have plenty of opportunities to take aim at Edgar’s incoming chin. Round-to-round, that favors Edgar on points, but keeps open the window of opportunity for Faber with more knockdown potential. In the long run, both men have plenty of five-round experience, a lot of heart and cardio, and no “quit.” So no matter how furious the fight gets, it will still take a lot to get a finish. Grappling Matchup: While both men have NCAA division 1 wrestling credentials, Edgar has utilized his wrestling better and more effectively, while Faber has racked up more submissions. Again, there are stylistic differences between the two that make Edgar more equipped to use his skillset to win rounds, while Faber has the killer instinct to make the most of a small opportunity. Both men tend to attempt a more than the average rate of takedowns, partially because both fighters favor shooting from a distance, which lowers their success rate below average. On the flipside, both have decent takedown defense and the ability to get back up. So unless someone starts using the clinch to set up a takedown, the fight could spend a lot of time on the feet resembling the last Cruz-Faber fight: this time with Edgar initiating combinations, Faber looking to counter, and neither getting much top control time. If Edgar does get top control he’ll look to use his ground and pound to stay busy, while Faber would be more likely to go for submission if he’s in control. Either way, there are tradeoffs, but more evidence of activity advantages for Edgar and opportunistic finishing potential for Faber. Reed’s Pick: Edgar by Decision, hedged (Click for latest MMA odds) Reed’s Recommended Play: The current price of -450 has been climbing for Edgar, and the juice is definitely not worth a straight play. Edgar is supported as a favorite, but only if he’s stays out of danger while maintaining the superior pace. He should do that, but it should also take all five rounds. The Over of 4.5 rounds is currently -225, the Under at +185. There’s clearly a market expectation that this will go the distance given the durability of both fighters. The Over represents better parlay fodder than Edgar straight up. But if you rely heavily on Edgar or the Over, also consider a small lottery hedge on Faber Inside the Distance at more than +800, just in case he does catch Edgar trying to outhustle him. For information on getting the “Fightnomics” the book, go here. Want to put your knowledge to the test in Fantasy MMA for cash? Use the code “FIGHTNOMICS” for an immediate 25% deposit bonus at Kountermove.