I still have three fights to write about and very little time to write about them! Waaaaaaaaaarrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrgh
Gabriel Gonzaga is almost a 2-1 underdog against Shawn Jordan on the main card of UFC 166 this Saturday, which has me convinced that Gonzaga remains underrated as a UFC heavyweight. Gonzaga’s big flaw is that he’s a very poor defensive striker. Gonzaga knocked out Mirko Cro Cop six years ago, which seemed to convince him that he was a good striker… but that’s very much not the case.
Gonzaga is not a good kickboxer and has a very suspect chin. At this point, I don’t think we can even call it suspect anymore… it’s just a bad chin. However, let’s not forget that Gonzaga is an excellent grappler and one of the best submission fighters in the heavyweight division. In my internal metrics Gonzaga has the 3rd highest rating for ability to win fights by submission at heavyweight, behind Frank Mir and Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira.
Gonzaga is the better overall mixed martial artist than Jordan. It might not matter if Jordan can defend any of Gonzaga’s attempts to take him down. In his UFC career so far, Jordan has mostly just stayed afloat against the bottom half of the heavyweight division – he hasn’t faced any takedown/grappler types as good as Gonzaga yet. With that caveat said, Jordan has only been taken down three times and has an overall effective takedown defense rate of 77 percent.
It’s unclear if Gonzaga is good enough to put Jordan on his back. Gonzaga has landed 3.37 takedowns per 15 minutes at 49 percent accuracy which is certainly above-average but again, Jordan has proven tough to take down. It helps that Jordan is only six feet tall and weighs about 250 pounds with good athleticism.
If Gonzaga gets the takedown, I can’t imagine Jordan could survive on the ground very long before Gonzaga finishes him. It’s unsettling that commentators like Joe Rogan still describe Jordan as “learning mixed martial arts.” I certainly don’t like his chances on the ground against Gonzaga.
On the flip side, if the fight stays standing I have to think Jordan could knock Gonzaga out. Keep in mind that Jordan has only landed one knockdown in the UFC in 181 significant strikes, so he’s not as much a power striker as may be expected. Against Gonzaga’s bad chin, however, Jordan should have enough power to put him away.
I think Gonzaga’s overall takedown/grappling game should be enough to carry him to victory in this fight but it’s not a pick I’m confident in.
Pick: Gabriel Gonzaga by submission