All right folks, its once again time to get all mathematical about the mixed martial arts. For our laser-focused prediction fest for UFC 192, we’re using the lines given to us by Opening (which is actually the name of the company that sets Vegas odds, strangely enough) and we’re using the OFFICIAL stats provider of the UFC, Fight Metric, for all of the numbers and fractions and ratios and whatnot.
And before any of you sods start bellyaching about my methodology for UFC 192 betting odds, just remember: on my last STATS-BASED predictions for UFC 191, I went 8-3, including 4-1 on the main card : )
And onward to the main card picks!
UFC Light Heavyweight Championship Bout
Daniel Cormier (-200) vs. Alexander Gustafsson (+170)
Cormier, fresh off pounding Anthony Johnson into a puddle, puts his strap on the line against Alexander Gustafsson, who next to crack and Funions, has come closer than anything to defeating Jon Jones. The Swedish Ryan Gosling look-a-like obviously has the height and reach advantage, plus his average fight time is about three minutes shorter than his opponent (that’s important, you see, because it implies that he looks to finish his foes rather than lollygag around in a war of attrition.) Unfortunately, Gustafsson’s number come up really short compared to those of Cormier in most striking and grappling categories: Cormier’s striking accuracy outpoints Gustafsson’s 48 percent to 37 percent, while Black Fedor’s striking defense average (64 percent) is considerably better than Gustafsson’s (47 percent.) To be fair, Alex does have a slightly better takedown defense percentage (86 percent to Cormier’s 77 percent) AND he’s rattling off more significant strikes per minute (4.06 to 3.63) BUT Cormier is averaging more successful takedowns per fight and, this could be the big one, he’s eating far fewer knuckle sandwiches per bout (1.71 absorbed per minute versus Gus’ 3.38.) Cormier, ever the predictable fighter, will almost certainly look to bully Gus up against the cage, and Gustafsson, ever the even more predictable fighter, will simply try to keep his shorter foe at bay with ranged jabs. Alex might have some success early (heck, he might even win the first two rounds) but the longer this fight drags on, I see it heavily favoring the reigning champ. I expect Gus to gas early in the third, which allows Cormier to smother him in the corner. After drowning Gus in his fatrolls like The Blob did to Storm in that one episode of the old ‘90s X-Men cartoon for an entire round, I imagine Cormier lands a pivotal takedown early in the fourth, which lets him just pound on Gus until he can’t remember which continent he’s on. It’ll be competitive for a while, but Cormier will find a way to beat Gus in typical Cormier style.
OFFICIAL PICK: Cormier, TKO (R4)
Johny Hendricks (-248) vs. Tyron Woodley (+192)
Stylistically, this is an interesting one. With a Herculean physique, Woodley has had cardio problems in long fights, while “Bigg Rigg” seems to actually fight better the longer the fight drags on. Woodley has a considerable reach advantage, a shorter fight time average, and outdoes Hendricks when it comes to striking accuracy, strikes absorbed per minute and striking defense. Alas, Hendricks has the better numbers when it comes to strikes landed per minute, takedown accuracy and — probably the x-factor in this bout – takedowns landed per fight (4.44 compared to Woodley’s 1.92.) Oddly, Woodley does have a better takedown defense ration than Hendricks, but then again, Woodley has never gone toe-to-toe with a grappler quite like Johny, either. Tyrone will obviously look for the knockout blow early, but I see this one playing out not unlike Hendricks’ fight earlier this year against Matt Brown. Once Woodley realizes he can’t make anything stick, that’s when Johny turns this one into a wrestling bout. It’s tempting to go with a left-handed one-punch KO, but I think it’s far more likely that Hendricks will just let his takedowns do the talking as he coasts to a relatively easy victory over a guy who — as judging by his loss to Nate freakin’ Marquardt — really doesn’t know what to do when the onslaught of fists start coming down on him.
OFFICIAL PICK: Hendricks, Unanimous Decision
Light Heavyweight Bout
Ryan Bader (+135) vs. Rashad Evans (-245)
Let’s not even mull the fact that this is Rashad’s first fight since 2013. In virtually every striking and grappling category save takedown accuracy, Bader absolutely outclasses “Sugar.” Or “Suga.” Or whatever the hell he wants to call himself. He’s got the reach advantage, he has a shorter fight length average, he’s throwing more punches and eating less of them than Evans and his takedown average per fight and takedown defense is better, too. But the big decider here is the submissions category; much to my surprise, Evans has never gone for a submission during his UFC tenure, while Bader is averaging about one sub attempt per fight. Rashad is no doubt going to have a lot of cage rust heading into this one, and I think Bader makes short work of him as a result. I see “Darth” rocking Rashad early in the first, then following up with either a guillotine or rear naked choke finale.
OFFICIAL PICK: Bader, Submission (R1)
Jessica Eye (+140) vs. Julianna Pena (-180)
Well, this one ought to be lopsided as hell. Eye has never gone for a takedown in her UFC career, while Pena is averaging five of them per fight. Oh, and she’s landed every single takedown she’s attempted so far while employed by Zuffa. The striking stats are just as damning. While Pena is landing an absurd 7.81 significant strikes per minute, Eye is landing just 4.82. Defensively, the numbers also favor Pena: she’s eating just 0.45 significant strikes per fight (an absurdly low number for any fighter, male or female) while Eye is getting popped hard 4.39 times every sixty seconds she’s in the Octagon. It’ll be a wild slugfest for a minute or so, but as soon as Pena gets the takedown — and rest assured, she will get the takedown –this thing is all over.
OFFICAL PICK: Pena, TKO (R1)
Shawn Jordan (+100) vs. Ruslan Magomedov (-140)
Of all the main card bouts, this is probably the hardest one to call. Jordan has a significant weight advantage, but Ruslan has the height and reach advantage. Jordan has more accurate striking, but Magomedov is chewing fewer shots per minute, tossing more significant strikes per minute and successfully defending more shots. Ruslan also has better takedown defense and offense (he’s batting 100 percent when it comes to attempts in the UFC), but that’s primarily because Ruslan is averaging just 0.5 takedowns per fight compared to Jordan’s 2.14. So, all of that to say — I really have no clue, folks. Magomedov is probably the more complete fighter, but as a tiebreaker, I generally go with the guy who has the more effective takedown skills, and in this case, that makes Jordan our man. It will be a competitive bout, no doubt, but since both these guys have a nasty tendency to gas early on, it probably won’t be too exciting a match-up, either.
OFFICIAL PICK: Jordan, Unanimous Decision
And now, on to the preliminary card quick picks!
Joeseph Benavidez (-300) vs. Ali Bagautinov (+220)
Folks, the spread on this one is so high for a reason. Take Benavidez and the points, as the perennial flyweight also-ran chalks up yet another unanimous decision win here.
Dan Hooker (+170) vs. Yair Rodriguez (-230)
Neither of these guys are terribly consistent, and with the insane spread afforded to Rodriguez, that gives me more than enough incentive to put my moolah down on Hooker (boy, that’s a bad one to take out of context!) and a boring unanimous decision victory.
Rose Namajunas (-350) vs. Angela Hill (+250)
All you need to know about this bout? Namajunas’ nickname is “Thug.” Take the favorite and first round TKO victory in this ‘un.
Alan Jouban (+170) vs. Albert Tumenov (-230)
Tumenov’s nickname is “Einstein.” No, seriously. For that reason alone, I’m giving this fight to Jouban, split decision.
Islam Makhachev (-120) vs. Adriano Martins (-120)
Vegas says flip a coin, so I did. It came up for Islam (the fighter, not the world religion.) So, uh, Islam it is, unanimous decision.
Sergio Pettis (-185) vs. Chris Cariaso (+145)
Yes, Sergio is Anthony’s brother. And in this fight at least, he’s going to have much better luck than “Showtime” had against Rafael dos Anjos. I’m giving Sergio a round three stoppage victory, for no particular reason.
Derrick Lewis (-115) vs. Viktor Pesta (-125)
Another toss-up heavyweight bout. I’m more familiar with Lewis (which still isn’t that much familiarity, to be frank), so he gets the unanimous decision nod.
Sage Northcutt (-230) vs. Francisco Trevino (+170)
With a name like “Sage Northcutt,” the fight is over before it even begins. Take the favorite, as he opens the show with a highlight reel-caliber head kick KO finish in the very first round.