STATISTICALLY SPEAKING: UFC FIGHT NIGHT 54–RORY MACDONALD VS TAREC SAFFIEDINE

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 another installment of Fight Night, it’s 54th in fact. A card dotted with a handful of very interesting and exciting bouts, today we leap to the top of the card and take a peek at the digits between Rory Macdonald and Tarec Saffiedine, who will be headlining this weekends clash.

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 map how each fighter may win.

Ready, set, read!

THE WRAP SHEET

I have no idea why, but Rory MacDonald (17-2-0) just has those soulless eyes. And some damn good fight statistics. “Ares” may in fact be the best fighter right now who has never had a title shot, and yet knocked down 95% of the names in his division. He boasts an above average strike output tied with a 65%+ defensive rating on the feet, giving him that bit of Diaz brother feel. Then there’s that wrestling, oh that wrestling. MacDonald has great success when he wants to take it to the mat, and only about 10% of takedowns from opponents get through. His game is topped off by having, again, fought some of the best to rock the Octagon.

Tarec Saffiedine (15-3-0) in the underdog in this main event, and proof that you can be amazingly successful despite your name sounding like a Turkish spice. Great with the switch stances, one of the busier fighters in the UFC, and boasts an above average defense game all around. His accuracy is a coin toss, but Tarec isn’t exactly a KO King style of fighter. Saffiedine brings a ton of pressure and volume into any fight, and he has about 80% of his fights on the scorecards. Don’t let his low finish rate fool you, “Sponge” get’s after it from bell to bell.

CROSS EXAMINATION

Let’s jump right on the topic of finishes. Neither one of these guys is an all out finisher, MacDonald with 12 finishes in 17 fights and Saffiedine with six of 15, so this fight is literally going to come down to the numbers and how they press against each other. MacDonald has a half foot reach advantage, and a huge portion of his striking output is derived from the leading jab, almost the 50% mark. This is very interesting because “Sponge” has a great percentage in his stand up defense, and the overage of his output compared to Rorys is notable.

This points to MacDonalds jab possibly being somewhat neutralized by Tarec’s tenacity and that almost perfectly matched defense rating they both share points to this bad boy ending up on the mat. MacDonald will certainly pump that jab to great success, but I just don’t see it taking Saffiedine out. When we hit the mat, it will most likely be from an “Ares” takedown, as his average is more than double that of “Sponge.” However, with that almost 90% takedown defense shared by both guys, any battle to the canvas will be one hell of a thing.

THE WINNING PATH

Although I do think Rory is the more crisp guy on the feet, his route to winning this time may not be a jab-and-move type of victory. I actually think the submission game is going to turn out to be a major factor for MacDonald on Saturday night. He absolutely overwhelms Tarec in this category, has tested these skills against some of the most elite fighters in the game, and may very well be able to pull the tap from Saffiedine. Saying this up against the fact that Tarec has never been finished is a bit of a tall order, but Rory has all the tools capable. His ground and pound is ridiculous and could be exactly what he needs to soften “Sponge” up for the submission. If not, expect him to dance with “Sponge” en route to the cards.

Saffiedine is the underdog, but by no means a long shot to take this fight. Rory has shown in the past that he can be stunned and put off track by strikes, and this is exactly what Tarec needs to do. If he can hunt down Rory, either eating the jab or bypassing it, and land some effective shots, we could certainly see “Sponge” squeeze his way to a decision victory. Merely chasing the stoppage could take the cards also, as this is numerically a very evenly matched fight. If Tarec can somehow neutralize the experience factor (which is big but nothing incredible) and stay off his back, he definitely has a nice chance a bullying his way into the W.

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