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Intelligent, unique MMA analysis
Hmm… what’s this? It looks like a time capsule. And it says I need to open it up on New Year’s Day 2013. Uh oh…
Last January, I published a series of posts comparing a fighter’s SILVA score to his ranking in the Bloody Elbow meta rankings. I then used that comparison to make some predictions. For fighters whose SILVA score was high but ranking was low, I predicted their ranking would increase in 2012. For fighters whose ranking was high but SILVA score was low, I predicted their ranking would decrease in 2012.
Here are links to the posts I wrote last January:
Let’s see how I did, starting with fighters I predicted would rise in the rankings.
|Fighter||December 2011 ranking||December 2012 ranking||Did the rank increase?|
Overall, there were 27 fighters who were already ranked, who I predicted would rise in the rankings. 19 out of the 27 did improve, while the other eight either stayed the same or declined. That’s a pretty good success rate. Let’s see how I did with fighters I predicted would decline in 2012.
|Fighter||December 2011 ranking||December 2012 ranking||Did the rank decrease?|
|Chan Sung Jung||12||5||No|
I had a similar success rate with fighters I predicted would fall in the rankings, as 22 out of 31 did fall, with nine either staying the same or rising.
Before you cry foul at guys like Brock Lesnar being listed, when we all knew he was retiring… it’s true, some of my picks here were cheap. In some cases, luck was on my side. But in other cases, luck was against me. Example: Urijah Faber still being ranked #2 at bantamweight, only because of Dominick Cruz’s injury. Another example: Joe Lauzon having the same ranking as last year, and he will presumably decline after his UFC 155 loss to Jim Miller.
Overall, there were 58 fighters I made predictions on. My predictions were successful for 41 out of the 58, for a success rate of 70.7%. I’m not running SILVA scores anymore, but it’s great to see that the time I spent developing them resulted in what was a pretty good predictive tool.
Anthony “Rumble” Johnson used to be the world’s biggest welterweight MMA fighter. He went into fights with an enormous size advantage, often bludgeoning opponents with strikes or overwhelming them with takedowns. But with the size advantage came a massive weight cut. Eventually, it caught up to Johnson. After struggling to make the 170 pound weight limit, Johnson decided to move up to middleweight to fight Vitor Belfort. But then, disaster struck, as the former 170 pound fighter could only manage to cut down to 197 pounds. Johnson lost in the first round and was cut from the UFC.
After that, Johnson was left with no choice but to fight at light-heavyweight, a full two weight classes and 35 pounds higher than welterweight, where Johnson fought in the UFC. Disaster waiting to happen? Hardly. Johnson has won all four of his fights since being cut by the UFC, three by stoppage. Granted, Johnson hasn’t been taking on guys like Vitor Belfort, but so far, his move to 205 has yielded nothing but success. Now, per Mike Whitman of Sherdog, Johnson considers the move to 205 the best he’s ever made.
Weight and size are badly overrated factors in mixed martial arts. While some are clamoring for the UFC to add a 230 pound division or a 195 pound division, fighters like Johnson are showing that it’s not size that matters, it’s skill.
Take, for example, the list of fighters who moved down from lightweight to featherweight in the UFC recently. Tyson Griffin was knocked out by Bart Palaszewski and got cut. Joe Stevenson lost to Javier Vazquez and got cut. Cole Miller lost to Steven Siler and Nam Phan. Ross Pearson got knocked out by Cub Swanson. Charles Oliveira also got knocked out by Cub Swanson. I can go on.
Meanwhile, some were suckered in to thinking Forrest Griffin would beat Anderson Silva because he was bigger. Anderson Silva embarrassing Forrest Griffin (and later Stephan Bonnar) is the perfect example of skill trumping size.
My advice to MMA fighters is this: if moving down a weight class gives you a career opportunity, as is the case with Frankie Edgar right now, AND the weight cut is reasonable, then go for it. Otherwise, don’t expect dropping a weight class to be your salvation. Learn the lesson taught by Anthony Johnson.
The other day, I posted some early results from my experiment with ELO ratings in MMA. The ELO system is going to allow me to do all sorts of research that was never possible with SILVA. One example of such research was when I did a search to find the biggest mismatches in the history of the sport. According to that search, the biggest mismatch ever was when 26-5 Shinya Aoki took on 0-0 Yokthai Sithoar at a DEEP show in October 2010. Here’s the video of that fight:
The idea of using ELO ratings to identify mismatches is a theoretical exercise, but Aoki certainly made this look like the biggest mismatch ever. Aoki probably could have gone for any submission he wanted there.
The funny thing about the upcoming fight between Fedor Emelianenko and Pedro Rizzo is that a fan of MMA could easily be forgiven for being unaware of its existence. Even I have no idea how to watch it, or if watching it will even be possible. Still, when I take a look at Best Fight Odds and see Fedor listed as a -2000 favorite on two books, I can’t help but be a little intrigued. Is Pedro Rizzo so shot that Fedor deserves to be such a massive favorite against him?
Naturally, the first thing I do as an analyst is look at the recent records of each fighter. I know all about Fedor, but what about Rizzo? As it turns out, here’s what Rizzo’s last 10 fights look like:
And then I calculate the fighter’s SILVA score as a mathematical estimate of how good he is based on those 10 fights. But usually, a fighter’s last 10 fights go back 3 years, or 5 at most. In Rizzo’s case, it seems just plain wrong to be giving him credit for beating Ricco Rodriguez in 2003, but if I want to keep the system objective, that’s what I have to do.
In any event, SILVA 2.0 is predicting Fedor to beat Rizzo, with respective SILVA scores of 74.97 and 49.74.
While a SILVA score of 49.74 isn’t cringe worthy, Rizzo’s recent record really is. First of all, he hasn’t fought in nearly two years, which is bad enough as it is. But in Rizzo’s case, his last two opponents were fighters who were decent 15 years ago: Ken Shamrock and Gary Goodridge. Both were obviously fighting for a paycheck, and Goodridge in particular is known to be struggling with the effects of severe brain damage.
As far as Rizzo’s recent career goes, all that is left are two wins over former UFC heavyweight contender Jeff Monson. Monson has a very good submission wrestling game, but almost nothing in the striking game. Since all of Rizzo’s last four losses were by knockout, it seems Monson just had exactly the wrong skill set to bring to the table against him.
Fedor Emelianenko won’t have that problem. Fedor’s technique has severely deteriorated since he was dominating the PRIDE circuit, but he’s still a serious threat to score a KO at any time regardless. And really, what are Rizzo’s paths to victory here? Rizzo isn’t going to out-point Fedor with strikes, so it appears that his only real chance is to knock Fedor out. But just take a look at Rizzo’s fight with Gary Goodridge. Is a guy who couldn’t knock out Goodridge in two rounds really going to knock out Fedor?
It seems the worst-case scenario here for Fedor is simply beating Rizzo up over the course of three rounds. Build in the ever-present chance of something freaky happening like a spontaneous blown knee, and that’s why Fedor is -2000 instead of -infinity. But really, let’s be honest here. Rizzo is being brought in to make Fedor Emelianenko look good.
Here’s what SILVA thinks of the fights tomorrow night:
The first two fights are bantamweight quarterfinal fights. The winners will join Travis Marx and Hiroshi Nakamura in the semifinals; with Masakatsu Ueda having been upset by Marx last week, I consider Alexis Vila to be the clear favorite to take the tournament.
The featherweight fight is a semifinal, and the winner will take on Marlon Sandro in the tournament finals. I like Daniel Straus a lot, and I think he’ll do what it takes to beat Mike Corey.
The final bout is a Bellator bantamweight championship fight, and it’s the second fight SILVA has picked the challenger to win since I’ve started covering Bellator events, with the first being Pat Curran beating Joe Warren. Dantas is probably a bit overrated by SILVA, but I’ll still give him the slight edge to beat current champion Zach Makovsky.
Sorry for yet another late post with SILVA predictions for a Bellator event. I would have posted these yesterday, but yesterday, I felt like a zombie for some reason. No, I did not drink any booze.
Bellator 64 Predictions
The bantamweight fights are tournament quarterfinals, the featherweight fight is a tournament semifinal, and the welterweight fight is a championship fight.
Tomorrow evening, Bellator will begin the first round of its welterweight tournament, to determine who will challenge the winner of the upcoming fight between Ben Askren and Douglas Lima. Here is what SILVA thinks of the participants:
Ben Saunders is probably the best-known of the tournament participants, as he was on the 6th season of The Ultimate Fighter and had a decent UFC run afterwards. I know a lot of people like Saunders, and I have nothing against him, but SILVA isn’t a big fan. Saunders is 6-4 in his last 10 fights, with his best wins in that period coming against Marcus Davis and Luis Santos. There is a little bit of hope for Saunders in the fact that his losses were all to very tough opponents, but until he shows he can step up his game, he won’t rate very well, and SILVA has him losing to the undefeated Raul Amaya.
The other name most likely to be recognized by hardcore MMA fans is Karl Amoussou. It’s a bit ironic that the two fighters most likely to be recognized are the two lowest-rated fighters in the field by SILVA. While I have some hope for a possible Saunders run in the tournament, I have about none for Amoussou, whose reputation seems to exceed his accomplishments as far as I see things. Every time Amoussou has stepped up in competition, he’s ended up losing, even against mediocre opposition like Kazuhiro Nakamura.
Ultimately, SILVA foresees a final between Bryan Baker and Chris Lozano. SILVA particularly likes Baker, despite his loss to Vitor Vianna in his last fight. This is because Baker has quite a few solid wins, against decent opponents like Matt Horwich, Jeremy Horn, Eric Schambari, Joe Riggs, and Jared Hess. None of those fighters will break into the top ten anytime soon, but for Baker, the key is the quantity of wins he’s accumulated, along with relatively few losses.
In the unlikely event that you’ve been frantically refreshing this website in hopes that I would post SILVA scores for today’s Bellator event at some point before the show at least begins on the west coast, your patience has been rewarded. Apologies for not getting these out sooner, and I really can’t blame anybody but myself.
Bellator Lightweight Tournament – Quarterfinals
You wouldn’t think there could be a bigger debacle than the lateness of this post, but I think the cancellation of the heavyweight tournament final between Eric Prindle and Thiago Santos qualifies. Last week, the fight was postponed due to flu-like symptoms suffered by Prindle. This week, Santos was unable to make weight. Bellator finally decided to simply eliminate Santos, sending Prindle to a title fight against Cole Konrad. Good luck to you, Mr. Prindle, because you’re going to need it.
This event will feature the first round of Bellator’s middleweight tournament, and there are definitely some interesting names participating. Here’s what SILVA thinks about the fights:
Main Card Fights – Middleweight Tournament First Round
The main event of this show was supposed to be the heavyweight tournament final from last year between Eric Prindle and Thiago Santos, but that fight has been postponed to next week.
Maiquel Falcao may be the most recognizable name to UFC fans here, as his lone UFC fight was a win over Gerald Harris at UFC 123 in November 2010. It was a bizarre fight. Both men were very hesitant to engage, particularly Harris, whose attacks were seldom throughout the fight despite clearly losing. At the end of the first round, controversy took place when Falcao had Harris in a rear-naked choke, but the round apparently ended after four minutes and 53 seconds, not the mandated five minutes.
Regardless, Falcao won that fight, so you may be surprised to see him as the lowest-rated fighter in this field according to SILVA. His opponent will be Norman Paraisy, who you may know from an appearance on the 11th season of The Ultimate Fighter. Paraisy was mocked for talking a lot about proving that French fighters are tougher than their reputation suggests, then quitting on the stool after a rough first round against James Hammortree. Despite that loss, Paraisy has built a professional record of 10-1-1.
The other intriguing fighter is Giva Santana, whose nickname is “The Arm Collector,” which is well-deserved, as Santana has won by armbar in 13 of his 18 fights. SILVA sees his fight against the undefeated Bruno Santos as a toss-up.
SILVA’s overall tournament favorite is none of the above names; it’s Vyacheslav Vasilevsky, a fighter I know nothing about, but he’s 15-1 with a number of quality opponents. I suspect SILVA may overrate European fighters like the Russian, but I don’t have nearly enough data to make any sort of conclusions about it.
Overall, this looks like a very interesting tournament, and I look forward to watching it.
After I processed the SILVA scores for a number of Bellator fighters, I increasingly came to the realization that I really should be giving coverage of some kind to this organization. With Cole Konrad, Hector Lombard, Ben Askren, Michael Chandler and Patricio Freire all rating as excellent fighters according to SILVA, among a number of others, it’s clear that Bellator has done a tremendous job of identifying and developing great MMA talent.
With that said, here are the SILVA scores for the main card participants of Bellator 60, taking place Friday evening, including the first round of their featherweight tournament:
Main Card Fights – 8:00 PM (7:00 CT) on MTV2
If you’re wondering where I’ve been all week, not only have I processed the SILVA scores for this Bellator event, but I’ve also processed the SILVA scores for all fighters set to compete on TUF 15, which debuts Friday evening as well. I’ll have a post up about that tomorrow afternoon, before the episode takes place.