Last week’s episode of TUF featured the second upset in as many weeks, as Team Sonnen’s Kelvin Gastelum was able to defeat Team Jones’s “Bubba” McDaniel by submission due to rear naked choke in the second round. It was a back-and-forth match punctuated by neither fighter’s ability to hold onto an advantageous position. It seemed that McDaniel was doing more damage and threatening with more attacks in the first round, and I had him up 10-9 going into round two. In that round, Gastelum not only got McDaniel down, he was able to take McDaniel’s back and finish with a rear naked choke, a move which seemed to shock the arrogant McDaniel.
That fight represents why I didn’t just go with ELO ratings for my TUF 17 ranking. ELO is a good tool for examining what a fighter has achieved, not how good a fighter really is. If I went by just ELO, McDaniel would have been the #2 ranked fighter on TUF 17. Instead, by mixing the ELO ratings with other metrics, McDaniel was only ranked #7, and should not have been considered one of the favorites to go all the way.
Now up 3-1, Team Sonnen selected Tor Troeng to face Josh Samman of Team Jones, in what figures to be one of the more competitive fights of the season. Here are those fighter rankings I alluded to:
- Zak Cummings – 8.022 (Team Sonnen)
- Uriah Hall – 7.383 (Sonnen)
- Tor Troeng – 7.348 (Sonnen)
- Luke Barnatt – 7.127 (Sonnen)
- Josh Samman – 7.009 (Jones)
- Dylan Andrews – 6.532 (Jones)
Robert McDaniel – 6.421 (Jones)
Kevin Casey – 6.234 (Sonnen)
- Clint Hester – 5.995 (Jones)
Gilbert Smith – 5.917 (Jones)
- Jimmy Quinlan – 5.893 (Sonnen)
- Kelvin Gastelum – 5.655 (Sonnen)
Adam Cella – 5.428 (Jones)
- Collin Hart – 5.154 (Jones)
Josh Samman vs. Tor Troeng
Speaking of ELO ratings, Tor Troeng would have easily been the #1 fighter on my list based on just ELO. Troeng has an overall professional record of 15-4-1, and is 11-1-1 in his last 13 fights. The thing is – I wasn’t really blown away by Troeng on tape. He’s the kind of fighter who will fight very methodically, look for a clinch or double-leg takedown, and then control position on the ground, looking for submissions. The best thing about Troeng is that he’s not a mistake-prone fighter – he doesn’t often leave his hands down or sacrifice position. I just wasn’t dazzled with his striking or his takedowns.
By contrast, Josh Samman is a very aggressive fighter who attacks from the opening bell with punches and knees. On the ground, he’s much more a fighter who will ground and pound than a fighter who will look for submissions, and he’s famous for the “Samman Smash,” where he will hit his opponent with both hands simultaneously. While I think Samman will be more dangerous than Troeng standing, I also think Samman may be more susceptible to making mistakes and giving up position. If Troeng can stay disciplined, land takedowns, and control position, he can definitely win by either decision or maybe submission. My very flawed model thinks Troeng has a 58 percent chance of winning this one. We’ll see what happens tonight.