UFC Fight Night 50 September 5, 2014 Featherweight Matchup: Charles Oliveira vs Nik Lentz By @fightnomics Big Picture: In a rematch of two ranked Featherweights, both men are looking for closure to their 2011 No Contest. Although Charles Oliveira appeared to win the first meeting against Nik Lentz, an illegal knee led to a No Contest in the lightweight matchup. The two went their separate ways, but both found their way down to Featherweight, each one amassing four wins with only a few losses to elite caliber opponents in the new division. And despite their common history, the market remains confused in this matchup, as Lentz is ranked substantially higher and yet is the underdog. Currently, #14 ranked Oliveira is favored at -170, with #8 ranked Lentz the underdog at +150. It’s finally time they set things straight and cement the pecking order, so let’s check the stat line to see how they match up. Summary Stats:
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Tale of Tape Matchup: The traditional metrics on the Tale of the Tape reveal big advantages for the Brazilian favorite, specifically the five-inch reach advantage and the five-year youth advantage. Lentz is slightly small for a Featherweight, and Oliveira is quite long, so the result a large reach differential that is rare to see at in the smaller divisions. It’s also rare to see a UFC veteran so young. Oliveira already has 11 UFC fights to his credit, and yet he’s only 24 years old. Striking Matchup: The striking metrics here are quite mixed, with each fighter getting edges in different areas of the standup game. Lentz is more accurate overall, and perhaps more importantly, he fights at a higher volume in both relative and absolute measures. But he also lacks power, and moving forward so often has resulted in some terrible strike avoidance. Once factoring in the reach advantage for Oliveira, we see that he might be getting the better of the standup exchanges if he leverages better defense to stay out of harm’s way while still landing strikes of his own from the outside. Lentz’s forward attack will make him susceptible to both strikes and takedown attempts from Oliveira. Although they have similar chins on a punch-for- punch basis, Lentz is clearly more susceptible having been knocked down three times to date. If Oliveira is smart enough to use his range advantage effectively, he may win the standup game. Grappling Matchup: There’s a clash of styles on the mat between the American wrestler and the Brazilian jiu jitsu black belt. Lentz is much more likely to attempt takedowns, although his success rate and ground control time once on the mat are not above average. And even if he does maintain top control, Oliveira is a dangerous guy off his back, with a very high rate of submission attempts and successes. In fact, all six of Oliveira’s wins in the UFC have come by way of submission, not including the tap from Lentz that was later overturned to a No Contest. Oliveira’s takedown defense is average at best, but he’ll get a slight boost given his range advantage. Should he try to put the wrestler on his back, surprisingly, he may be able do given Lentz’s below average defense. Overall, Lentz has spent more time on the mat in total, and more time in control. But when Oliveira takes control of opponents, he maintains it for longer and has spent a very high share of time in back control. The stylistic differences makes predicting the ground matchup more difficult, but given that wrestling is one of Lentz’s best paths to victory, there are a number of factors that make Oliviera well equipped to deal with it. Reed’s Pick: Oliveira Inside the Distance (click for latest MMA odds) Reed’s Recommended Play: It’s a grinder versus a wily finisher here. The edges lean towards Oliveira, but Lentz still presents a challenge if he can stay out of danger and implement his usual game plan. With the line relatively close overall, Oliveira looks like a reasonable play straight up, but not if it goes much higher. The Under of 2.5 rounds is +105, the Over -135. Fewer than half of Featherweight fights end in less than three rounds, but each fighter has a path to victory via a finish. With two very talented fighters in the same cage who have each looked vulnerable in the past, an early finish is the safer bet. Meanwhile, Lentz by decision is +240, and if the line runs towards Oliveira, this could rise and become a small hedge against the straight up Oliveira pick. “Fightnomics” the book is now available on Amazon! Follow along on Twitter for the latest UFC stats and MMA analysis, or on Facebook, if you prefer.
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