Glad to see you sliced your way through the internet to dissect another great UFC fight headed our way. This time, Zuffa bestows upon us UFC 178: Johnson Vs Cariaso, a card dotted with a handful of very interesting and exciting bouts. In all this excitement, one of the most electrifying faces to emerge this year takes to the Octagon against one of it’s grittiest.
Each “Statistically Speaking” article is broken down into three sections; The Wrap Sheet, Cross Examination, and The Winning Path. In The Wrap Sheet, we will take a closer look at each fighters statistics individually. The Cross Examination is where the fighters are compared to one another. Finally, The Winning Path takes the previous results and draws a bit of a numerical maphow each fighter may win.
Ready? It’s time for Dustin Poirier Vs Conor McGregor!
THE WRAP SHEET
We kick things off with #6 ranked UFC lightweight Dustin “Diamond” Poirier. With a record of 16-3-0, it’s easy to see why Poirier is constantly in title contention conversations. Two of his three losses came at the hands of current ranked fighters, and overall “Diamond” is 8-2 since joining the UFC in 2011. An active and relentless fighter, Dustin has only gone to the cards five times in 19 fights. A closer look reveals some of the reasons for this; Poirier’s strike output is absolutely off the charts, and he has one of the higher submission attempts ratings in the division.
#9 ranked Conor McGregor (15-2-0) is without question a 2014 breakout star. I know this may sound crazy, but I can’t recall a fighter since Marcus Davis that brought that whole Scottish/Irish flavour to the cage. With a fantastic record, a very high paced striking skillset, and the kind of speed/tenacity combo that a lot of fighters strive for it’s no wonder Conor has become so popular. Although his strike accuracy is in the low 30% range, Conor makes up for this with high evasion and defense rate that’s comparable to the best at 155. Did I mention he has won by KO all but two times?
This is one of those fights where one very well rounded guy takes on a fighter that is good, but amazing at one particular thing. Sort of how we all used to wait for Crocop to either lose or kick someone’s head into space. “Diamond” has a nice spread between how he wins, and McGregor wins by KO 99% of the time. Both guys have a high output on the feet, with Dustin being more accurate (near 50%) and McGregor having the higher striking defense floating around 70%. If it wasn’t for Conor knocking everyone out, these guys would be fairly even here. “Diamond” will certainly be able to hold his own, but he will probably be the one mostly having to be the most aware of power.
On the mat things once more get interesting, but the kind that makes MMA fans smile. Dustin does have some solid wins on the ground, several sub wins, and is no slouch on the canvas. However, and let these numbers sink in well, McGregor has a 100% takedown defense and a killer 86% takedown accuracy. With this info alone we can see that Conor might have the skills to deny Poirier the ground at all, working to only further slide Dustin into that dangerous zone of firing in the pocket. To balance this out, fans should note that McGregor’s resume isn’t filled with the same constant level of experienced opponents as “Diamonds” and I definitely think Dustin will have an edge in this fight due to that.
PATH TO VICTORY
For Dustin Poirier, his road to victory lies in experience and his well rounded arsenal. He has victoriously faced several serious fighters. He has comeback from being rocked, pulled off the submission to win the day, and all around proved himself one of the grittiest out there. He is fully aware that McGregor will be hunting the KO, and I think “Diamonds” diamond-like chin will help him survive the worst of it to implement his own gameplan. If Poirier can keep the pace high, mix it up well to keep Conor guessing, his chances of taking this to the ground or winning on the cards grows by the second.
If I haven’t said it enough, lets go over it one more time; Conor McGregor is a KO machine through and through. His counter wrestling is amazing, and although not tested against top 5 guys, there can be no denying that he has incredible potential. Poirier is a big step up in competition, and Conor needs to let the KO come instead of trying to chase it around all night. If he can be smart, and show Dustin that he can hang early, then he has a strong chance of keeping “Diamond” at bay for a scorecard win or one more highlight reel KO.