It’s time to dig into the Fight Metric statistics of the fighters scheduled to compete on the main card of UFC on Fox 7 on Saturday:
UFC Lightweight Championship Match: Benson Henderson vs. Gilbert Melendez
- Melendez has a significant strike margin of +1.48 per minute, compared to +1.39 for Henderson.
- On a per 15 minute basis, Henderson lands 3.2 takedowns in 6.3 attempts, while Melendez lands 1.9 takedowns in 4.4 attempts.
- Henderson averages 1.02 submission attempts per 15 minutes, compared to just 0.3 for Melendez.
If Gilbert Melendez wants to beat Benson Henderson to become UFC lightweight champion, the striking game is probably his best bet. Melendez and Henderson have very similar overall striking numbers, but if Melendez can keep this fight standing, there’s a good possibility that he can out-point Henderson. If Henderson succeeds in mixing in takedowns to go along with his striking, he’ll be much more likely to win a decision.
Heavyweight Match: Daniel Cormier vs. Frank Mir
- Cormier has a very high significant strike margin of +2.50 per minute, far better than Mir’s margin of -1.38.
- Mir gets hit by 60% of significant strikes thrown at him, compared to just 29% for Cormier.
- On a per 15 minute basis, Mir normally lands 2.8 takedowns in 6.0 attempts, but Cormier has never been taken down in an MMA fight.
On paper, this is a nightmare match-up for Frank Mir. Cormier should have a massive advantage in both wrestling and striking. Mir probably will need to finish Cormier if he wants to win this fight, but if he can’t take Cormier down, he won’t win by submission, and it’s hard to see Mir winning by knockout either.
Lightweight Match: Nate Diaz vs. Josh Thomson
- Diaz has a significant strike margin of +0.87 per minute, compared to +0.63 for Thomson.
- Per 15 minutes, Thomson lands an average of 1.7 takedowns in 4.3 attempts. Diaz only succeeds in defending 46% of takedowns attempted against him.
- Diaz has attempted 22 submissions in his Fight Metric career, and has had nine attempted against him, but nobody has attempted a submission against Diaz since his loss to Joe Stevenson in June 2009.
I’ve thought for a while that Josh Thomson is a badly underrated fighter, and I still feel that way, even after Thomson took Gilbert Melendez to a very close decision in May of last year. Diaz figures to have the advantage against Thomson as long as the fight stays standing, but if Thomson can land takedowns, he can absolutely win this fight. Diaz is active with submission attempts on the ground, but Thomson has never been submitted in his 24 fight career.
Welterweight Match: Matt Brown vs. Jordan Mein
- Mein has a significant strike margin of +1.49 per minute, compared to +1.13 for Brown.
- Per 15 minutes, Brown lands an average of 1.8 takedowns in 3.8 attempts, while Mein has not a landed a takedown in the four fights of his that have been tracked by Fight Metric.
- Mein successfully avoids 74% of the significant strikes thrown against him, compared to 58% for Brown.
Matt Brown figures to be a very tough opponent for Jordan Mein. Mein is the better striker on paper, and probably figures to have better conditioning as well. But Mein’s takedowns and takedown defense are big concerns, and if Brown can land takedowns in this fight, he could definitely win on the judges’ scorecards, if not force Mein to tap out due to a submission hold. Either way, this figures to be a fun, action-packed fight, which is probably why the UFC chose this fight to open the Fox main card.
So if the stats are any indication, it looks like we’re going to have three very competitive fights, and one not-so-competitive fight (Cormier-Mir). Stay tuned for more coverage of UFC on Fox later this week!