On Sat., Nov. 12, 2011, the Honda Center in Anaheim, Calif. will play host to one of the most titanic heavyweight mixed martial arts (MMA) battles of all time when Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez takes on number one contender Junior dos Santos at UFC on FOX.
Both fighters are undefeated inside the Octagon. Both fighters have run through a veritable "who's who" of formidable adversaries and dispatched of them all with relative ease.
Sometimes MMA fights are over-hyped. Sometimes the goods are not what they were advertised to be. This, dear Maniacs, is not such an occasion.
This is the UFC's version of "Ali vs. Frazier." It's "Hulk Hogan vs. Macho Man." It's "Godzilla vs. King Kong" (or Mothra, if that's your thing).
Enough chit-chat. After the jump, we'll breakdown the numbers behind a fight that is certain to go down in the annals of MMA history as one of the most important in the history of the sport.
And some of them may surprise you:
According to OddsShark, Velasquez is a -155 favorite to successfully defend his belt. The logic is easy to follow.
Velasquez is a top-level wrestler who just happens to have stellar stand-up. Of his nine wins, eight came by way of (technical) knockout. Six of his fights were first round finishes. He works fast. He finishes violently.
The challenger, dos Santos, has won four of his seven UFC fights by (technical) knockout. Two of his wins came via unanimous decision. Both fights ended with dos Santos' opponents looking like their faces had been through a meat-grinder. And then there was Mirko Filipovic, who tapped out in the third round after finally getting tired of "Cigano" punching him in the face.
They're both bad men. That isn't up for debate. But who's badder?
As usual, CompuStrike was up to the task of getting down to the brass tacks, sharing the statistical knowledge that it often uncovers. The following information is based on seven random fights (for each fighter), chosen by CompuStrike to watch and evaluate for statistics. Here's what they came up with regarding the striking game of each fighter:
Velasquez - 88 of 137
Dos Santos - 52 of 106
Velasquez - 64%
Dos Santos - 49%
Total Power Strikes Landed:
Velasquez - 67
Dos Santos - 36
Total Non-Power Strikes Landed:
Velasquez - 21
Dos Santos - 16
Dos Santos has the reputation of being a phenomenal striker, if not having the best hands in the heavyweight division. However, the statistics tell a much different story, which is that Velasquez's overall striking numbers are actually vastly better.
What about the specific breakdowns? We've seen the big picture, let's look at the finer points.
Check out the data on who holds the advantage in the "arm strikes" department:
Total Arm Strikes Landed:
Velasquez - 16 of 30
Dos Santos - 39 of 87
Percentage of Arm Strikes Landed:
Velasquez - 53%
Dos Santos - 45%
Power Strikes Landed:
Velasquez - 13
Dos Santos - 27
Non-Power Strikes Landed
Velasquez - 3
Dos Santos - 12
This is an important category because it shows that Velasquez is a bit more accurate, but dos Santos is decidely busier and does more damage when the hands are in play.
Neither fighter uses a ton of kicks. It's unlikely that we'll see that aspect be a major factor on Saturday night. Nonetheless, let's see who has the edge when it comes to "leg strikes:"
Total Leg Strikes Landed:
Velasquez - 8 of 10
Dos Santos - 6 of 7
Percentage of Leg Strikes Landed:
Velasquez - 80%
Dos Santos - 86%
Power Leg Strikes Landed:
Velasquez - 6
Dos Santos - 3
Non-Power Leg Strikes Landed:
Velasquez - 2
Dos Santos - 3
Too close to call.
It seems a given that things would favor Velasquez, an accomplished NCAA Division I wrestler from Arizona State University (ASU), if this fight hits the mat.
Let's check the actual numbers and see if the theory holds true:
Ground Strikes Landed:
Velasquez - 64 of 97
Dos Santos - 7 of 12
Velasquez - 66%
Dos Santos - 58%
Power Ground Strikes Landed:
Velasquez - 48
Dos Santos - 6
Non-Power Ground Strikes Landed:
Velasquez - 16
Dos Santos - 1
Velasquez - 11 of 15 for 73%
Dos Santos - 3 of 4 for 75%
Velasquez - 2
Dos Santos - 0
Velasquez - 22
Dos Santos - 1
Wow. If you weren't sure before that Dos Santos needs to all he can to keep this fight standing, you should be now.
Dos Santos is a brown belt in Brazilian jiu- jitsu (BJJ), so he's no slouch. Also, in his defense, he's never really needed to do much on the ground. You can afford to be a one-trick pony when your one trick is as good as his.
That said, the canvas is not where he wants to be against Velasquez. If he finds himself on his back, it may be a short night.
Did any of the information catch you off-guard? Are you more confident about your pick for 'Velasquez vs. dos Santos' or are you shakier than ever?