Studs and Duds, Five Statistical Mismatches at UFC 188

Cain VelasquezBy @fightnomics   The UFC’s return to Mexico for UFC 188 will finally bring a conclusion to the murky Heavyweight title picture that has patiently awaited the return of legacy champion Cain Valesquez for an excruciating 602 days. The two UFC veterans in the main event are impressive along the statline in a number of ways, but they’re not the only ones competing this weekend. A number of matchups feature a veteran against a less experienced fighter, meaning there will be few matchups where full blown analysis is possible. But even preliminary performance metrics can be revealing, so let’s go anomaly hunting to see where some interesting stats line up opposite one another.   Stud: Cain’s Knockdown Power Cain Velasquez boasts the highest Knockdown Rate at UFC 188 at 11.5%. Double-digit Knockdown Rates are rare and dangerous, but few should be surprised that a Heavyweight champion has lots of power, as that’s a necessary ingredient to survive in the division where knockouts are most prevalent. Velasquez may be a wrestler from his roots, but his standup game has become dominant, as evidenced by his toe-to-toe war and eventual TKO finish of Junior dos Santos. Behind all that power is also solid power strike accuracy, coming in a wave of high volume attacks. Dud: Werdum’s Knockdown Defense Though Werdum is a more technical striker than most Heavyweights, including even Cain Velasquez, at nearly 38 years-old Werdum has now been dropped five times in Strikeforce/UFC competition, and has a below average Chin rating. Still, he remains dangerous, and Cain will need to be careful to not get caught as he inevitably presses forward, so either way don’t think this one is going five rounds!   Stud: Cejudo’s Wrestling It’s no secret Henry Cejudo is on the path towards a Flyweight title shot. In just his third UFC appearance, Cejudo is already widely considered one of the more dangerous challengers to the current championship reign of Demetrious Johnson. Cejudo is one of the rare Olympic medal gold medalists to enter MMA. While he hasn’t relied too heavily on his wrestling so far, we know he can wield it when necessary. He’ll eventually need more than wrestling to dethrone the champ, but at UFC 188 Cejudo’s wrestling could be a dominant factor in his fight. Perhaps this is why he’s the biggest betting favorite on the card. Dud: Camus’s Takedown Defense While the takedown offense of Chico Camus is decent, his 52% takedown defense is less than impressive. He’s been taken down a total of 12 times on 23 attempts, and we have to believe that his opponent Cejudo at UFC 188 will have some of the best wrestling he’s ever faced. Camus has accurate hands, but if he can’t stay off his back, it won’t matter.   Stud: Marquardt’s Offensive Skills If you’re only looking at recent UFC performances, you may not realize that Nate Marquardt has racked up more Knockdowns (10) scored in his Strikeforce/UFC career than any other fighter at UFC 188. Boasting numerous black belts on the ground, his technical striking is also elite. His power head strike accuracy is abnormally precise. In fact, before his exit to Strikeforce, none other than Georges St-Pierre predicted that Marquardt would be the inevitable next title holder at Welterweight. Having lost a title shot at Middleweight to then-champion Anderson Silva, Marquardt made his way to 170 pounds and became the eventual Strikeforce champion. Dud: Marquardt’s Defensive Skills Given the above, the reason Marquardt hasn’t worked his way back to a title shot in the UFC has been his defense. His power head strike avoidance is below average at 69%, and he’s been dropped a total of six times leading to a Chin rating far below the division average at 94%. While his opponent Kelvin Gastelum isn’t known for one punch knockout power, the threat is still there. The big question will be which Marquardt shows up on fight night.   Stud: Melendez’s Pressure When it comes to striking, it’s not always just about knockdowns and knockouts. Volume counts for a lot, especially on a round-to-round basis. And volume is something that Gilbert Melendez tends to bring to the table. He averages a striking pace of over 13 attempts per minute while standing, and outworks his opponents by 47% on total distance volume. That’s an important factor when he faces Alvarez, who failed to keep up with a more aggressive striker in Donald Cerrone. Dud: Alvarez’s Counters The stats on Alvarez only account for one fight, his UFC debut against seasoned striker Donald Cerrone, so there’s a big caveat here on small sample size. But it is interesting that Alvarez not only had to back off against the onslaught of Cerrone from a distance, but also was unable to effectively counter. Cerrone is great at a lot of things, but avoiding punches isn’t one of them. His strike defense is actually way below average, and yet Alvarez was unable to connect his head strikes with anything better than average accuracy. It’s too early to draw firm conclusions on Alvarez, so we’ll learn a lot in this matchup against Melendez. Overall, it should be a competitive fight that goes the distance, and Alvarez is a live dog, but he’ll have to do more to counter than he did in his first UFC fight. We should see this statline “dud” rebound here with a better sophomore performance.   Stud: William’s Reach While the prelim matchup between Patrick Williams and Alejandro Perez is absolutely minimal in sample size due to each having only one UFC fight, there is one stat that represents the biggest mismatch on the card: reach. Bantamweight Patrick Williams is listed with a 73-inch reach, which is longer than even the Lightweight average two divisions larger. At UFC 188 he’ll have a large reach advantage of six inches over his opponent, which is not just rare, but very rare at Bantamweight. Dud: Perez’s Reach On the flipside, the reach of Alejandro Perez is listed at just 67 inches, which is the smallest of anyone on the card not competing at Flyweight or Strawweight. His wingspan is well below the division average, which is the compounding factor in the large differential versus his rangy opponent.   The categorical mismatches could be a hint into how these fights will play out, but a big wild card will be the high altitude of Mexico City. Certainly, the fighters have been trying to prepare for the altitude, but you never know who can maintain their cardio once inside the cage under fighting conditions. Whatever happens, welcome back Cain, and let’s enjoy the contrasting styles competing this weekend at UFC 188.   For information on getting the “Fightnomics” the book, go here.

Written by Reed Kuhn

Leave a Reply

MMA Odds and Ends for Tuesday: Uriah Hall Makes Quick Return

Premium Oddscast – UFC 188: Velasquez vs Werdum Betting Preview Part One