UFC 172 Prediction: Andre Fili vs. Max Holloway
April 24, 2014
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I was pretty confident about Andre Fili’s chances going into his UFC debut against Jeremy Larsen. Having watched tape of Fili on the regional circuit, I was impressed by his very aggressive striking offense. Even though Fili got hit a little more often than I would like, he always landed strikes with much greater volume than his opponents and had fight-ending power as well. In fact, Fili’s performances were so impressive that after I tracked everything he did, the numbers indicated Fili was ready to be an above-average UFC featherweight right then and there. That was a conclusion I wasn’t quite ready to embrace.
Now, Jeremy Larsen is not a good fighter by UFC standards, so a win against him doesn’t prove that Fili deserves to be considered an above-average fighter in the division. However, what Fili showed in that fight perfectly matched what I saw from him on tape: a fighter who knew how to put together a tremendous amount of offense in a short period of time. Fili landed a whopping 55 significant strikes before finishing Larsen just 53 seconds into the second round. Even though Fili absorbed more strikes than is ideal (23, an average of 3.91 per minute), his sheer offense more than made up for it.
There are reasons to believe Fili could do the same thing to Max Holloway. Holloway is similar to Fili in that he absorbs a lot of strikes (3.94 per minute) but makes up for it by landing strikes at an even higher pace (5.58 per minute). Holloway has also shown decent power as he’s landed five knockdowns and finished two fights by TKO.
The thing is, even though Holloway is one of the most prolific volume strikers in the featherweight division, I think Fili is prepared to step in and out-pace Holloway. The reason is that Holloway’s performances have clearly dropped off against stronger competition:
- Holloway vs. Will Chope, Leonard Garcia, Justin Lawrence, and Pat Schilling: 7.21 significant strikes landed per minute, 3.83 absorbed (+3.38)
- Holloway vs. Conor McGregor, Dennis Bermudez, and Dustin Poirier: 3.27 significant strikes landed per minute, 4.10 absorbed (-0.83)
For the most part, Holloway’s volume has been a result of facing opponents like Chope and Garcia who are VERY easy to hit. Holloway still lands strikes at a high rate against tougher opponents but not enough to make up for his lack of effective defense.
I’m sure a lot of people will see this fight leading off the pay-per-view and think “who are these guys and why are they on the main card?” Sean Shelby knows what he’s doing with this one. Fili and Holloway are almost guaranteed to go into the cage and give the fans an exciting fight. We should see plenty of strikes go both ways in this one but I think Fili’s aggression will be a little too much for Holloway to deal with.
Pick: Andre Fili by decision