UFC on FOX 16 July 25th, 2015 Lightweight Matchup: Edson Barboza vs Paul Felder By @fightnomics When the UFC heads to primetime FOX this weekend for the 16th time (!), they will be giving fans a striking duel to watch on a main card that promises a little bit of everything. After bonus machine Joe Lauzon faces off with PRIDE veteran Takanori Gomi, but before the Women’s Bantamweight clash and the Bantamweight championship, we’re going to see two of the purest strikers on the card trade leather in the Lightweight division. The No. 7 ranked Lightweight Barboza is a slight favorite at -150 over the relative newcomer, unranked Paul Felder at +130. This fight pairs two of the most similar fighters on the card, so let’s see how they’ve performed to date. Summary Stats:
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Tale of Tape Matchup: The traditional tale of the tape only reveals one difference, but it’s an important one here. The five-inch reach differential favoring Barboza is sizable, and should theoretically be amplified by the likelihood that this fight will spend most of the time on the feet. Otherwise, both guys are in their prime, and use the same stance. Striking Matchup: The statline says both guys like to stand and trade, and that’s what we should all be hoping to see. That makes the striking stats more important than usual. And despite facing stiffer competition, it seems like Barboza gets the edge in some important categories. Both men hit hard, and their Knockdown Rates are the two highest on the card. Statistically, Barboza is a little more likely to drop an opponent per strike landed, but as they are both way above their peer average, it’s safe to say that either man could score a KO. So the key is in the technical differences. Paul Felder has only had two fights to date, both against grapplers. And while he has displayed some excellent technique, his performance metrics are not as good as Barboza’s. Barboza gets the slight edge in precision, as well as in head strike avoidance. Felder didn’t take many head strikes to date, but one of them dropped him in a fight he went on to win. So while Barboza has been criticized for his chin, Felder, to date, has been worse. Both guys utilize a high mix of kicks to the leg and body, and both guys love the “spinning $hit.” But together their impressive striking skills and power, along with their potential vulnerability in eating a power strike, and there could be a knockout finish here one way or the other. Felder is also a little more aggressive with his standup, but that may also be reflective of having faced less skilled strikers in his prior two matchups. Ultimately, Barboza gets the edge, and that’s compounded by facing more talented strikers throughout his long UFC resume. Grappling Matchup: Whereas the average UFC fighter attempts ~0.4 takedowns per minute of time spent on their feet, both Barboza and Felder attempt a fraction of that rate. Combined, the two have only attempted nine total takedowns to date in their UFC careers, making this fight highly likely to remain standing. And that’s good. No doubt UFC matchmakers thought the primetime fans would appreciate this most as a striking duel. But what happens if one fighter is hurt, or simply decides to change levels? Again, both guys are similar in that they have demonstrated solid takedown defense. But if anything, Barboza’s takedown defense has proven more effective among their grappling metrics, and he does have some hidden jiu jitsu that he rarely demonstrates. Fightnomics Pick: Barboza to Win (Fight Does Not Go the Distance) Click for latest MMA odds Fightnomics Recommended Play: The price on Barboza at -150 is reasonable given the combination of anthropometric, performance, and also competitive factors. Stylistically the two are nearly identical, and either could appear on the highlight reel with a spinning KO of the other. But Barboza is more of a proven commodity, and worth a little bit of juice. The Under of 1.5 rounds is currently a +130, which is tempting given the amount of power between the two. But that tight limit is tricky because the two may spend a lot of time feeling out the distance and response of the other to feints. A safer approach is using “Fight Does Not Go the Distance” at -190 in a parlay with another likely finish (e.g., Lauzon-Gomi). For information on getting the “Fightnomics” the book, go here.