Predicting things like this is often a fool’s errand, but I’m willing to play the fool. I thought to myself just now, “what if I could tell how exciting a fight would be by looking at each fighter’s significant strikes landed per minute on Fight Metric?” I have no idea if looking at the rate of significant strikes landed per minute of each fighter is any indicator of how exciting an upcoming fight will be (and “exciting” is a subjective thing), but it should be interesting to look at regardless.
I looked at the current fight cards for the next four UFC events: UFC 144 in Japan, UFC on FX 2, UFC on Fuel 2, and UFC 145 in Atlanta. For all fights between fighters who each had at least three fights tracked by Fight Metric, I simply combined the number of significant strikes landed per minute of each fighter. Let’s see which fights look like potential barnburners:
POTENTIAL EXCITING FIGHTS
- UFC 145: John Makdessi vs. Anthony Njokuani – 9.06 SLpM
- UFC 144: Mark Hunt vs. Cheick Kongo – 7.17 SLpM
- UFC 145: Michael McDonald vs. Miguel Torres – 7.05 SLpM
- UFC on Fuel 2: Alessio Sakara vs. Brian Stann – 6.60 SLpM
- UFC on FX 2: Court McGee vs. Costa Philippou – 6.49 SLpM
An honorable mention has to go to Matt Brown vs. Stephen Thompson, currently scheduled to take place at UFC 145. Thompson only has one fight tracked by Fight Metric, so that fight doesn’t qualify for this list, but that’s pretty much guaranteed to be an exciting one.
The fight with most potential for excitement looks like John Makdessi vs. Anthony Njokuani, also at UFC 145, and that makes a lot of sense to me. Both guys love to stand and strike, and they’re both very good at it. After that, we have a heavyweight fight between two more strikers in Mark Hunt and Cheick Kongo at UFC 144 in Japan, in a fight that’s very unlikely to go to the ground. Third is a bantamweight battle between young phenom Michael McDonald and veteran striker Miguel Torres at UFC 145, and fourth is a middleweight match (like the alliteration?) between two more strikers in Brian Stann and Alessio Sakara. Rounding out the top five is another middleweight match, but perhaps not what you might expect, as Court McGee is set to face Costa Philippou. McGee is the kind of fighter who will keep up a good pace for 15 minutes, so prepare for a grueling battle in that one.
Now, here are the fights that might have potential to be a bit uglier to watch:
POTENTIAL BORING FIGHTS
- UFC 144: Joe Lauzon vs. Anthony Pettis – 3.97 SLpM
- UFC 144: Takanori Gomi vs. Eiji Mitsuoka – 4.10 SLpM
- UFC on Fuel 2: Damacio Page vs. Brad Pickett – 4.96 SLpM
- UFC 144: Yoshihiro Akiyama vs. Jake Shields – 5.05 SLpM
- UFC 144: Tim Boetsch vs. Yushin Okami – 5.10 SLpM
This might be where I lose you a little bit. Joe Lauzon vs. Anthony Pettis, a boring fight? I don’t know about that myself, as Lauzon almost never goes to decision, but his aggression takes place primarily on the ground, and not with striking. Meanwhile, Pettis has never been a guy to get into slugfests. In his last two fights combined, both of which went to decision, Pettis landed just 35 significant strikes total, while his respective opponents landed 36. Don’t be shocked if Lauzon vs. Pettis makes you yawn a little bit.
Gomi vs. Mitsuoka is identified as potentially boring solely because of Mitsuoka, who in three fights tracked by Fight Metric has landed an anemic 0.90 SLpM. Page vs. Pickett is another surprise, but if you think Brad Pickett is some kind of striking machine, he only lands 2.86 SLpM, which is by no means bad, but it’s not exceptional either. Those fights are followed by a couple of contests that make more sense in this discussion, Yoshihiro Akiyama vs. Jake Shields and Tim Boetsch vs. Yushin Okami.
Again, I have NO IDEA if this is a good way to tell which fights will be fun to watch, but it makes for an interesting experiment. The only thing I can take away for now is that if you have the chance to go see UFC 145 live, please do it, because that is shaping up to be a tremendous night of fights. By the way, since I link to them so much, if you like statistics and you like MMA, do yourself a favor and check out Fight Metric. It’s pretty much a gold mine of information.