After going nearly two weeks without writing anything, it’s time to dive into UFC on Fox 8. I don’t feel good about my lack of writing, but don’t worry. Soon enough, UFC events will be happening so frequently that I won’t have any choice but to stay active on this blog. For now, let’s take a look at the bantamweight match between John Albert and Yaotzin Meza:
*FPR supplemented by video scouting due to lack of Fight Metric data.
From an analyst’s perspective, this is a challenging match to break down. I only have 17 minutes’ worth of data for Albert and 19 minutes’ worth of data for Meza. It’s especially challenging for Meza because his only UFC fight was a beatdown at the hands of Chad Mendes.
What stands out to me about Albert is that he does well with submission attempts (7-4) but only his opponents’ submissions seem to work. In the fights I saw, only one of Albert’s seven submission attempts finished his opponent, but three out of the four submissions attempted against Albert forced him to tap out. Albert is very aggressive in his fights, but his fast-paced style might result in costly mistakes that cause him to get caught on the ground. At the same time, his style is very fun to watch, and is almost certainly the reason Albert is still in the UFC despite a 1-3 record.
Albert is also a competent striker. I would argue Albert is better standing than he is on the ground. All four of his career losses are by submission; none are by TKO. If he keeps this fight against Meza standing, I anticipate he’ll have a distinct advantage.
That’s because Meza did not impress me on tape with his striking. For the most part, he throws one strike and then tries for a takedown or guillotine choke. He holds his hands awkwardly and doesn’t look comfortable on the feet at all. As a result, I counted just 23 significant strikes landed for Meza in 19 minutes, a rate of just 1.21 per minute.
The strength of Meza’s game is on the ground. He’s decent at landing takedowns and does a good job of controlling his opponent from top position. Still, it’s hard to take what I saw on tape and apply it to fighting in the UFC, for two reasons. One is that the footage I saw was from the Rage in the Cage promotion, which has three minute rounds for some reason. It’s a lot easier to control an opponent for three minutes instead of five.
The other reason is that Meza’s opponents on tape (Eric Regan and Kevin Croom) simply are not UFC-level competition. Meza showed a good ability to pass guard and hold on to a dominant position in those fights, but what will happen when his opponent actually knows what he’s doing on the ground? It’s hard to tell.
Based on what I know, I have to favor Albert to win. I’m much more impressed with Albert’s striking than Meza’s, and Albert has shown enough talent on the ground that I don’t think Meza will control him easily. Albert also has more experience against tough competition, so I’m more confident in my assessment of his skills than I am of Meza’s. Albert is the pick but due to a lack of information it’s not a pick of very high confidence.
Pick: John Albert by TKO