By @fightnomics The stacked UFC 187 card this weekend is loaded with talent, as well as knockout potential. But in an interesting turn of events, there may not be many “barnburners” based on striking pace. It turns out that, literally, just one fighter has a striking pace that is above the UFC average: Joseph Benavidez. But even among the slower strikers, there are some who lag the pack a little, and others who lag a lot. So let’s consider the pace of standup striking among this weekend’s competitors, and how they may or may not make up for pace with other factors.
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Pushing the Pace The only fighter who has averaged a standup striking output above the UFC mean is Joseph Benavidez at 12.6 strike attempts per minute while at a distance. That’s not a crazy pace, but in stark contrast to the pace of his opponent John Moraga, this is one contributing factor to “Joe Jitsu” being such a heavy favorite this weekend. Average Pace The main event between Daniel Cormier and Anthony Johnson will be interesting for a lot of reasons, but a slobber knocker slugfest probably won’t be one of them. Both men have average standup striking rates, but do usually outwork their opponents from a distance. Given the range differential and the differing strengths of the two fighters on the feet versus on the ground, expect a fair bit of feeling out to start this one off. Just a Little Slow There are a lot of fighters who fall below average, but some not by much, averaging less than 11 strike attempts per minute but more than 9. Despite the low pace, many of them are still able to outwork opponents, meaning the slower pace may not ultimately cost them on the judges’ cards as long as they’re not the slowest guy in the cage. John Dodson, Zach Makovsky, Chris Weidman, Rafael Natal, and Andrei Arlovsky have all slightly outworked their opponents despite being involved in slower-paced fights. While they may not initiate barnburners, at least they get the better of opponents. On the other hand, the low pace of John Makdessi and Josh Burkman are combined with unfavorable volume ratios compared with that of their opponents, meaning that these guys are looking to counter the striking of their opponents. Both men are underdogs this weekend. Just Waiting for Their Time None of the fighters averaging less than 9 strike attempts per minute have a tendency to dictate pace, and all of them have a striking ratio that is 1.0 or less compared to their opponents. That means this group tends to be counter-strikers more often than not. But interestingly, they also all rate pretty high in the power department, with the exception of John Moraga. That means that while Travis Browne, Uriah Hall, Dong Hyun Kim, and Vitor Belfort all might look a little hesitant to engage at times, they all pack plenty of power. So victory for them is less dependent on volume and more so on timing there opponents. All but Belfort are considered favorites. For information on getting the “Fightnomics” the book, go here. Follow along on Twitter for the latest UFC stats and MMA analysis, or on Facebook, if you prefer.