TUF 22 Finale December 11th, 2015 Featherweight Matchup: Frankie Edgar vs Chad Mendes By @fightnomics Big Picture: Before the long awaited title matchup between the UFC’s top two Featherweights, the #2 and #3 ranked contenders will face off in a high-quality TUF Finale main event that may be flying under the radar given the talent involved. Frankie Edgar and Chad Mendes will cap off a batch of well-matched fights among ranked competitors, and certainly the title picture at Featherweight will get thoroughly juggled over the course of this weekend. Former Lightweight champion Edgar is just barely favored at -130 over three-time Featherweight title contender Chad Mendes at +110. It’s essentially a pick ‘em contest, so let’s take a closer look at their performance metrics to see how this could play out. Summary Stats:
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Tale of Tape Matchup: The traditional tale of the tape is torn. Mendes is flirting with a meaningful Youth Advantage, but is also giving up a range advantage to Edgar. The reports on Edgar’s reach are mixed. Publicly, he’s reported at just 68”, and yet through numerous title fights that required careful measurement, he’s been documented with a 72”. We still have the 72” value cited above, but acknowledge that Fight Metric may be revising their official wingspan for Edgar. Regardless, he’s the longer guy, and Mendes has the shortest reach of any opponent that Edgar has faced. That edge could play an important role in the standup matchup. Striking Matchup: There is a big tradeoff here between power and pace. Chad Mendes has an unusually high Knockdown Rate for a Featherweight, and his striking profile is that of a fighter who holds back then swings for the fences. He doesn’t utilize a lot of volume, and when he fires he’s usually skipping his jab. This contrasts with Edgar, who has a busier pace and has matched the output of larger fighters while using a more balanced attack of strikes. His power rating isn’t nearly as good as Mendes’s, but with a reach advantage and his excellent movement, Edgar should stay out of trouble and connect more often while on their feet. These are Featherweights, so we shouldn’t expect one punch to end the fight, but we also have to respect each one’s power. That said, each fighter has been knocked down in a fight and still managed to make it to the cards. In Edgar’s case, he’s even managed to come back from getting dropped and win. So it’s a close call, but round-to-round Edgar appears to have the advantage, while he’s also slightly more susceptible to a big shot from Mendes. Grappling Matchup: Both men have a wrestling base, and while Mendes has been slightly more effective using his offensively, Edgar’s stats account for tougher competition. Consider that Edgar manhandled BJ Penn at Lightweight, and also faced solid grapplers in Benson Henderson and Gray Maynard. Mendes is quicker to attempt takedowns, and more efficient in landing them. And paired with his perfect takedown defense, he’s always been the one dictating the ground game in fights. But Edgar is no slouch, controlling his own share of wrestling on the mat. But his takedown offense and defense stats aren’t quite as good as Mendes’s. Still, expecting to see either man dominate the other for extended periods is unlikely, and for the most part their skills should cancel each other out. They’ve both had occasional success with submissions, but again, don’t expect either to get caught by the other. The metrics favor Mendes slightly, but the experience favors Edgar. Reed’s Pick: The Over, Edgar to Win, Hedge on Mendes TKO (Click for latest MMA odds) Reed’s Recommended Play: The metrics are close, and essentially agree with the odds. Each fighter deserves to be a perennial contender, so either winning would not be a huge surprise. But Edgar has faced bigger and tougher guys than Mendes, and has also soundly overcome the best comparable to Mendes, his teammate Urijah Faber. Expect Edgar to do what he does, and win a decision on the cards against a tough opponent. The limit is 4.5 rounds, with the Over currently -190. Both guys are pretty tough, and this could be an all-over kind of fight. But other than Mendes’s power, there’s not a lot of finishing potential here. Use the Over or a Fight Goes the Distance prop in parlays with your favorite betting favorite through the weekend. But also consider a small hedge on Mendes by TKO at +340. If it lasts the full five rounds, it’s probably Edgar’s well-rounded attack and constant hustle that wins the night, but he’s still increasingly susceptible with each passing battle. For more statistical analysis of MMA, get the book “Fightnomics: the Hidden Numbers and Science in Mixed Martial Arts.”