By: Eric Ellison
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. Two of which are comebacks of title contenders; Dominick Cruz and Cat Zingano. Today we focus on the latter, and what a return fight against #8 ranked Amanda Nunes.
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? Here we go.
THE WRAP SHEET
Lets heat things up with a trip down Nunes lane. At 9-3-0, Amanda Nunes shows how young the division is, as she is certainly far from inexperienced inside the Octagon. Amanda has quality wins, for those who follow pre-UFC WMMA, over some of the most game fighters on the scene. This includes former and currents standouts like Ediane Gomez, Julia Budd, Sheila Gaff, and Vanessa Porto. A decent striker with a very high output, and a wrestling game that literally sits near 100% defensively, Amanda Nunes displays a very well balanced arsenal. I suppose eight of her nine wins being knockouts doesn’t hurt anything either.
Cat Zingano (8-0-0) was one of those early WMMA stars in the UFC that really grabbed fans attention. I´m still trying to figure out if her battle with Tate made us more or less confident in her ability to dethrone Rousey, but for now we are all very excited just to see her return. By far Zinganos biggest strength is that I´m not sure I’ve ever seen her go for a takedown and not get it.The numbers pretty much paint the same picture, and that speaks volumes. Sure she isn’t the best at stuffing takedowns, but if she get them going in her direction, theres just no stopping it. Let us not also forget that she is quite the danger on the feet, and although throws less strikes than a lot of girls at 135, her accuracy is amongst the highest at over 80%.
Pitting these two against one another on paper only makes things more interesting. Right away we see that Nunes is the busier striker, but Zingano is almost twice as accurate. This reveals that Nunes may be more prone to letting hands go, whereas Zingano is more thoughtful about her strikes. When we look at it from the other direction, they retain the same style of numbers, but they work in opposite effect. Nunes again has a very high number here, but its Strikes Absorbed, more than twice that of Cat. Cap this off with them being pretty much dead even with evasive-defensive maneuvers, and this spells serious exchanges on fight night. This is Cat picking apart Nunes with hands and knees, or this is Nunes landing the good night punch in a flurry.
On the ground, things get a bit different. One fighter almost always gets her takedown, and the other almost never gets taken down. This area will no doubt be where the hardest horns are locked, and whoever grinds out the advantage here may just secure the entire bout. Zingano has more success and victories while on the canvas, especially when compared to those 8 KO wins of Nunes I mentioned earlier. That’s where she wins, hardly ever on the ground. If the striking gets dicey, expect the first few grappling exchanges to put the stamp on this fights theme.
THE WINNING PATH
Lets start again with Amanda Nunes. The route to success for her is fairly straightforward statistically speaking, make all the getting punched in the face worth it to land the finishing blow. Nunes has only been knocked out once before, and she obviously can take a good deal of punishment based on the average amount of attacks opponents land on her, which is pretty high. With those eight knockouts, if she can get just one or two bombs in she can close this fight down. The bonus of having almost 0 fighters take you down is huge here should She put Zingano in a position where she is losing the striking battle and fighting to take it down. High volume and no groundtime could easily translate into a KO or win on the cards.
For Cat Zingano, the first thing she must do is not let the long layoff affect her time with Nunes on Saturday. Her stats at various websites are great,but they cant exactly be labeled as current. It has been a long road for Zingano from her UFC debut to this fight, and that alone could end up being the biggest factor. If it isn’t, expect Cat to utilize that sick clinch, those beautiful knees and elbows, and all out grit to wear out Nunes and capitalize on a gassed fighter. Basically playing off Nunes unusually high output. Remember, this is the fighter who made Miesha Tate look like a bygone fighter, so do not count Zingano out. Her insanely high accuracy both standing and on the mat almost make this the kind of war where getting knocked out is the only way Zingano can lose.
(Photo Courtesy of Getty)