By: Eric Ellison
Welcome to another First Stop edition of “Statistically Speaking,” where we break down fights according to the almighty math behind them. These articles are broken down into three segments, each with a different approach to the match.
“The Wrap Sheet” takes an idividual look at each fighter, the “Cross Examination” compares the fighters numbers against one another, and finally the “Winning Path” lays out what we learned and how the fight might end.
Usually when we get interim title fights they make us a bit unhappy, and leave us longing for the original match. This title bout doesn’t feel that way at all, and in fact, has many elements to it that are actually more exciting than the Velasquez Vs Werdum title pairing. In that match, it was “can Velasquez use his uncanny speed and wrestling while not falling into Werdum’s traps.” Now we are in a completely different situation which reads a little more like “Someone is going to sleep or tapping at UFC 180.”
THE WRAP SHEET
Mark Hunt has had one of the most interesting and accomplished roads in MMA. Few guys have had as much success, especially in the brightest of spotlights, while posting a very average record. At 10-8-1, Hunt has been able to rise to the top of the UFC’s heavyweight division since leaving behind his K-1 and PRIDE glory days. Since entering the Octagon, Hunt has been on fire, racking up a record of 5-2-1 over some of the best on the scene. His most recent win, a KO over fellow powerhouse Roy Nelson, all but placed him in title contention.
Fabricio Werdum (18-5) has had quite the storied career as well. Also a veteran of PRIDE, where he relied very heavily on his grappling and submission skills, Werdum has made quite the change since rejoining Zuffa’s roster in 2012. His time evolving his striking with Chute Boxe has paid off in a big way, and today’s Werdum is a well rounded guy, with one hell of a chin to complete the package. Standing at 9-3 inside The Octagon, Fabricio has racked up four back to back impressive wins over guys like Noguira, Roy Nelson, and Travis Browne. This of course lead to Fabricio gripping the title shot against heavyweight king Cain Velasquez slated for UFC 180 in November.
Let’s kick this quick look off with both guys striking prowess. Despite the immediate thoughts of Werdum and BJJ, he has actually scored only a single submission in all eight of his UFC appearances. This change of focus, not leaving behind his skill but adding to them, has shown much brighter in his four TKO wins inside the Octagon. We are talking one sub, four TKO’s, and three decision victories. So there can be no question that Fabricio had put a lot of work, which is paying off, in rounding out his game both standing and on the canvas.
Mark Hunt probably needs no introductions in this area. The man is a knockout machine, and 75% of Hunt’s wins come from strikes. He has incredible power, and beyond that, a chin that is the stuff of legend. He has only gone to the cards four times in his whole career, and tends to win there. His 30-13 kickboxing record is further proof of just how ferocious Mark Hunt can be, and literally from all angles. Hell, we have seen Hunt knock guys out with half hearted punches thrown while completely gassed.
On the ground however, things get really lopsided. Of Mark’s eight losses, six of them come from tapping out. Werdum, on the other hand, has never himself tapped out and owns nine submission victories. That is pretty much half of his total wins. In the middle of Hunt’s career, he went on a six fight losing streak from 2006 to 2010. five of those six fights he lost via submission. Now he has not been subbed since, maybe an indicator that he has worked hard on his ground game. However, looking at the numbers makes it appear a little more like Hunt was just knocking out guys before they had the opportunity. With Werdum not just a BJJ guy anymore, and Hunt possibly able to stay standing, it will be interesting to see where this fight plays out.
THE WINNING PATH
So, in the end of our short analysis, the picture that is beginning to emerge is that of a classic match up. Can Werdum strike with Hunt, yes. Can he take the power, probably some. However, I doubt that Fabricio can simply take five rounds of Mark Hunt’s hands and kicks, so the ground game factor in this is very real. Can Hunt defend the takedown, probably for a while. Can he keep himself out of Werdum’s web, that is probably the biggest question in the air right now.
This fight is almost Striking Vs BJJ, and the numbers suggest highly that both men will be entering to do what they do best. I can’t imagine Fabricio seeing Hunt’s record of sub losses and not implementing this into his game plan. In reverse, Hunt has to be aware of it as well, and probably looking to keep this one short and sweet, or at least off the canvas as long as he can.