There are a lot of great grapplers in the UFC welterweight division. We saw two of them compete last week when Demian Maia took on Jake Shields. The slow pace of that match should not detract from the genuine world-class skill both of those fighters have on the ground. Gunnar Nelson is an extremely talented grappler who is very fun to watch on the ground. Newly arrived Yan Cabral has a terrific submission game, and of course Georges St-Pierre is outstanding on the ground himself.
And yet, in my internal statistics, none of them have a ground rating as high as that of T.J. Waldburger.
Just look at the numbers above. In 42 minutes of UFC fighting Waldburger has landed 12 takedowns, passed guard 17 times, and attempted 18 submissions. That’s one submission attempt every two minutes and 20 seconds. Nobody else in the UFC comes close to that level of submission offense. The only fighter I’ve ever seen match that is Paul Sass, who lacks Waldburger’s diversity of submissions.
Waldburger has something else that Sass lacks – a competent striking game. In six fights, Waldburger is up on his opponents in significant strikes (78-71) and knockdowns (2-1).
Add it all up and Waldburger has an FPR of +4.04, 11th highest in the UFC welterweight division. This was one of the bigger surprises to me when I put FPR together.
Waldburger’s opponent in this fight is Adlan Amagov, a fighter who had a very efficient performance in his UFC debut against Chris Spang. In 20 minutes tracked by Fight Metric, Amagov has absorbed just 15 significant strikes while landing 61. He has landed a whopping nine takedowns (although he should probably avoid those against Waldburger). There are definite reasons to be enthusiastic about Amagov’s potential.
There are real reasons to believe that the winner of this fight might be on the road to becoming a genuine title contender at 170 pounds. Both fighters are a handful of wins away from that status, but they’ve both been very impressive in a short period of time.
As far as how they match up against each other… this is a situation where it’s really hard for me to read the fight. Amagov hasn’t had any grappling offense performed against him at all, while Waldburger attacks his opponent with very aggressive grappling offense.
I understand I’m not providing a lot of insight here, but Waldburger’s game is more proven in the UFC than Amagov’s. Waldburger has faced tougher overall opponents. I’ll take Waldburger to force Amagov to tap out, but this will be a fight that’s more about learning more about each fighter than showing off how well I can predict fights.
Pick: T.J. Waldburger by submission