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Intelligent, unique MMA analysis
At UFC 150 Ed Herman found himself in a difficult situation. As a fighter with a wrestling base he routinely preferred to take his opponents to the ground – but in this particular fight his opponent was Jake Shields. Herman was confronted with a choice – engage in a grappling contest against an excellent grappler, or abandon his wrestling roots? In the end, Herman chose to take Shields down, and that was ultimately his undoing as Shields won the grappling match and the decision (the fight was later overturned to a no contest due to a failed drug test).
Now at UFC 167, Herman finds himself in a similar situation. He’s easily a better striker than Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu ace Thales Leites. Leites is a fighter whose striking is simply a means to an end. He needs just enough striking to force opponents to respect it so he can then take fights to the ground. However it remains to be seen if Herman is willing to exchange strikes with Leites.
If Herman is willing to adapt and engage in a striking match then I like his chances, although he’s likely to look sloppy in the process. For his UFC career Herman is +68 in significant strikes landed while Leites is -91. Neither man is much of a threat to win by knockout so it would likely be a decision win for Herman.
But let’s be honest… the chances of Herman and Leites both choosing to stand and strike are extremely low. If Herman doesn’t go for the takedown then Leites will… and there’s a chance that he’ll be able to complete the takedown. Leites lands 2.75 takedowns per 15 minutes at 31 percent accuracy. Those are numbers similar to fighters like Demian Maia – it indicates that Leites struggles to get takedowns but eventually succeeds if he tries hard enough. Herman’s takedown defense is merely good at 66 percent so a Leites takedown is not out of the question.
However, I think the most likely scenario is that Herman indeed sticks to his wrestling and engages Leites in the clinch, eventually taking him down. After all, if Herman chose to grapple with Shields, why wouldn’t he want to grapple with Leites? This is Herman’s identity as a fighter. He’s most comfortable as a wrestler… and that means Leites is going down. If anything Leites will be happy to just let Herman take him down.
And on the ground, it’s all Leites. Herman has had his moments in the submission game over the years but his submission defense is very poor. He has six career losses by submission and has been caught in 19 submission attempts in his UFC career. I expect that one way or another, this fight will go to the ground and Leites will prove to be the far superior submission fighter.
Pick: Thales Leites by submission