The other day, I decided to start what I think might be an interesting little experiment. Basically, I want to see if looking at the rate of significant strikes per minute landed by each participant of a fight (per Fight Metric) is any indicator of how exciting the fight is. “Exciting” is a very subjective term; some MMA fans love to watch striking, and others love the ground game. Everybody will have their own standards as to what an exciting or interesting fight looks like.
With that said, if strikes landed is any indication of how exciting a fight will be, Lauzon vs. Pettis could be a tough fight to watch. Of the next four scheduled UFC events, no fight features competitors with fewer significant strikes landed per minute than this one. Joe Lauzon is actually a very aggressive fighter; he’s gone to decision just once in his career, as usually he either takes out his opponent early, or he gets finished as a result of exhaustion stemming from his aggressive attack. That’s why I’m skeptical about my idea that perhaps strikes landed could be an indicator of excitement, but we’ll see.
Now, I’m fully willing to sign onto the idea that Anthony Pettis isn’t the most exciting fighter in the UFC. Each of his first two UFC fights, against Clay Guida and Jeremy Stephens, were grinders. In those 30 minutes of fighting, Pettis landed just 35 significant strikes, while Guida and Stephens combined for 36. There were quite a few takedowns landed in each fight, and not a whole lot of time at standing distance, so it’s possible that Pettis could be a much more aggressive striker than we’ve seen so far.
But I don’t think this fight will be contested at standing distance all that much. Lauzon’s strength as a fighter is on the ground; 17 of his 21 wins in professional MMA are by submission. His goal will likely be to tie up with Pettis quickly, get him to the ground, and immediately look for submission opportunities. That won’t be particularly easy. Pettis is known as a striker, but he has solid wrestling, and he’s never been finished in a fight, let alone submitted. This is despite facing opponents like Ben Henderson, who knows a thing or two about the wrestling/grappling game.
That said, if this fight does happen to become a striking match, I have to favor Pettis. No, he doesn’t land strikes with incredible frequency, but I think the fair thing is to say he’s a defensive-minded striker. Pettis’s 1.82 significant strikes landed per minute (SLpM) is low, but his 1.42 significant strikes absorbed per minute (SApM) is even lower. Meanwhile, Lauzon is a fighter who usually doesn’t stand and bang, but when he did with Sam Stout, he was out-classed.
SILVA PREDICTION: ANTHONY PETTIS (59.71) OVER JOE LAUZON (52.30)
I really have a tough time thinking this fight actually will be boring. Joe Lauzon pretty much always presses the action. But when I take a deeper look at this fight, I can’t help but think it favors Anthony Pettis. At striking distance, Pettis is much better, and he’s not an easy fighter to take down or submit. Lauzon will give it his all for sure, but I think Pettis thwarts him, out-strikes him, and wins by either TKO or decision.