Fantasy Fights

Intelligent, unique MMA analysis

Striking Power of UFC Middleweights

This is the third of a series of posts estimating the striking power of UFC fighters by taking the following steps. First, I look at how many standing and clinch strikes each fighter listed on the UFC website has landed in their UFC career. Second, I look at how many knockdowns each fighter has landed in their UFC career, from Fight Metric’s website. The number I use to estimate striking power is the ratio of a fighter’s strikes landed to his knockdowns. This only looks at fighters who have landed at least 50 standing or clinch strikes in the UFC.

This is hardly a definitive measure for a number of reasons. One is that the sample sizes are very low; even the fighters with the longest UFC careers and the most strikes landed barely clear 600 strikes landed overall, and a large percentage have landed fewer than 100. Another is that knockdowns are not the only way striking power can be represented, but from all the statistics I’ve seen available, it’s the only way to measure striking power that I can think of. (If you have a better idea for an approach, I’m all ears.)

So, while repeating the need to take the following list with a lot of salt, here is how the middleweights in the UFC stack up:

There are a few things to note here:

  • Vitor Belfort’s amazing knockdown rate of one every 13.7 strikes certainly goes along with his reputation, but it’s important to note that it includes fights from a long time ago against opponents like Scott Ferrozzo and Tank Abbott. His “real” power rate is probably something similar to Anderson Silva’s, which is still obviously outstanding.
  • At heavyweight and light-heavyweight, the respective UFC champions, Junior dos Santos and Jon Jones, rated in the middle of the pack in striking power. This is obviously not the case with Anderson Silva, and I don’t think that comes as a surprise to anybody.
  • Costa Philippou rates extremely well, but three of those knockdowns came in one fight against Jared Hamman. Philippou has good power for sure, but there is some small sample size theater embedded in his rating.
  • Rich Franklin is listed here because he’s listed as a middleweight on the UFC’s website, as he’ll be moving back to 185 pounds for his next fight. If you consider Franklin a light-heavyweight, his rating of 61.7 would rank 11th out of 27 fighters in that division.
  • Mark Munoz and Tim Boetsch have a reputation for possessing a lot of power, but they only have four knockdowns between them. They’re both very powerful fighters, but their power manifests itself in their wrestling ability and (especially in Munoz’s case) strikes on the ground, which are not included in this feature.
  • The biggest surprise here might be Chris Leben, who has a reputation for possessing a ton of striking power, but only rates in the middle of the pack here. Leben may have knocked out Wanderlei Silva in July of last year, but that’s actually his only knockdown in his last eight fights. Before beating Silva, the last time Leben had knocked a fighter down was against Alessio Sakara in March 2008.

Here is the breakdown by weight class:

  • Heavyweights: 41.8 strikes landed per knockdown
  • Light-Heavyweights: 74.3
  • Middleweights: 76.3

After a huge drop-off in power from the heavyweight division to the light-heavyweight division, there’s very little difference between the light-heavyweight division and the middleweight division. I think this is due to two outliers in Vitor Belfort and Anderson Silva, each of whom have better power ratios than every light-heavyweight in the UFC. It’s worth noting that while there were three light-heavyweights who hadn’t scored a knockdown, there are 13 such fighters in the middleweight division.

Stay tuned for the welterweights!

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One response to “Striking Power of UFC Middleweights

  1. jumpingpolarbear March 29, 2012 at 5:20 am

    Vitor is the man!

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