Here, in the sixth of eight preliminary fights on Saturday’s UFC event, Matt Riddle will be fighting for the eighth time in his UFC career and in his professional MMA career. His opponent will be UFC newcomer Lance Benoist, whose MMA record is just 5-0.
It’s somewhat unusual for a fighter making his UFC debut to have just five career fights under his belt, so let’s look under the hood of Benoist’s career to see if there’s anything to get excited about.
A submission win by triangle choke in 53 seconds over Jamell Austin. Austin’s record going in: 0-1. Victory Score: 33.33
A head kick KO at 4:34 of the first round over Cleburn Walker. Walker’s record: 9-4. Victory Score: 60.23
A submission win by guillotine choke in 57 seconds against Miguel Rios. Rios’s record: 3-0. Victory Score: 58.01
A submission win by rear naked choke at 4:36 of round 1 against Dustin Baker. Baker’s record: 1-1. Victory Score: 40.74
A submission win by triangle choke at 2:56 of round 1 against Ryne Vincent. Vincent’s record: 2-1. Victory Score: 40.74
So, the good news: Benoist has won all of his fights in the first round, and has a head kick KO to go along with four submission victories. The bad news: none of Benoist’s opponents can be called “UFC-quality” fighters, and only two of them are rated as above-average.
Put all of this into a blender, press the “ice crush” button, and it spits out a SILVA score of 20.23, with a rAP of 33.84 and a Fight Level of 10.23.
The biggest challenge with evaluating fighters like Benoist is that they’re unproven against quality competition. Benoist is undefeated, so it hasn’t been proven that he can’t compete against very good/excellent competition. At the same time, I can only say that he’s shown the ability to beat fighters below the UFC standard. So, for now, Benoist is estimated to be a very low-level UFC fighter, but that’s an estimate that will change very quickly if he can get past Matt Riddle.
Now, if you didn’t follow the UFC too closely, you might not be aware of Riddle’s existence. Riddle is 5-2 in the UFC since appearing on the seventh season of The Ultimate Fighter, but is usually (maybe always) buried somewhere on the preliminary fights. This fight is no exception, as Riddle continues to fight on the prelims despite appearing in the UFC for an eighth time.
The reason is that Riddle has been spending his time in the UFC fighting sub-standard UFC opponents. His list of wins: Dante Rivera, Steve Bruno, Dan Cramer, Greg Soto, and DaMarques Johnson. His losses: Nick Osipczak and Sean Pierson. In the Pierson fight in particular (and maybe Riddle’s other past fights, but I haven’t seen most of them), Riddle seemed more interested in a bizarre “boxercise” method of striking than something that would actually win him the fight. Arm punch after arm punch after arm punch. Unsurprisingly, Pierson won a unanimous decision.
SILVA PREDICTION: MATT RIDDLE (32.03) OVER LANCE BENOIST (20.23)
So why does Matt Riddle have a SILVA score in the neighborhood of Josh Koscheck and Martin Kampmann? Because SILVA is still an imperfect system, and gave Riddle a Victory Score of 76.26 for beating Greg Soto. That’s an extremely high Victory Score for beating such an unremarkable opponent, and I don’t agree with it, and I need to address it in the future. Despite that, I’m still cool with the pick of Riddle over Benoist. That’s because, while Riddle may have been fighting at the lowest tier of the UFC, he’s still been fighting in the UFC, and Benoist doesn’t have a single victory that suggests that he belongs there yet.