By @fightnomics The recurring stylistic matchup of wrestler versus striker is just as relevant today as it was at the dawn of MMA. And despite the requisite well-roundedness of most fighters in the modern version of the sport, individuals still come from specific backgrounds that are hard to shake. And when the cage door shuts, some fighters have a clear preference to keep a fight standing, or to get their opponent on the mat. At UFC 186 there are clear “haves” and “have-nots” when it comes to using wrestling effectively. That could tell us a lot about the potential game plans for certain fighters and their matchups this weekend. Here’s how much time these competitors have spent on the mat in a position of control. Only about a third of all cage time is spent on the ground, so overall the average ground control time is around 16%, because fighters are in control half of that time in the long run (their opponents control the other half). But obviously, some fighters are better at wrestling than others, so here’s how they all stack up.
The Haves: CB Dollaway leads the list for ground control, and no one else is even close. Dollaway wrestled at Arizona State, earning All-American honors, and continues to train with his former teammate Ryan Bader who is also recognized for his wrestling base. In the UFC, Dollaway has attempted takedowns early and often, managing to keep fights on the ground for over half of all his time spent in the Octagon. During that ground time, it’s been Dollaway who has been in control for most of the time, leading him to win a good number of fights by decision. In fact, he has only lost once by decision, and that was a fairly controversial fight against Francis Carmont. If Dollaway wants to beat Bisping this weekend, he’d be wise to use all the wrestling he can muster. In distant second is Yves Jabouin, a grinder who has taken numerous decision wins in the UFC, partly due to his ground control. Given that most of his losses came by way of strikes, perhaps it would be wise for him to leverage his wrestling even more. Unsurprisingly, Alexis Davis comes out on paper as a strong grappler. Despite her quick loss to Ronda Rousey, Davis is still confident she has some of the best jits in the division, and she will no doubt want to rely on it heavily to redeem herself against superior striker Sarah Kaufman, who defeated her twice already. Joe Riggs is another grinder, and one who has been getting it done for a very long time. While he isn’t exactly dominant with his control (he’s actually been in control less often than opponents), he certainly likes to get ground position and work ground and pound from guard. Current Flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson has definitely had success on the mat. While some of his stats are depressed from his time competing in the upper echelons of the Bantamweight division, he has still gotten the better of opponents, including two submission finishes during his undefeated Flyweight run. Interestingly, Johnson’s challenger Kyoji Horiguchi has been in control more often than not on the rare occasions he has gone to ground. However, once on the ground, Horiguchi never advanced past half guard, and is unlikely to do so against Johnson. There will likely be a battle for position in the main event. The Have-Nots: Patrick Cote is a well-rounded veteran of the sport, but his grappling game has more jiu jitsu than wrestling in it. Perhaps that’s why he’s only been in control for one quarter of all his time on the mat to date. In the matchup with Joe Riggs, that could be a problem if the latter decides to conservatively work ground and pound. You rarely see Michael Bisping attempting takedowns, and we probably won’t see that here against Dollaway. Bisping attempts a fraction of the takedowns that Dollaway goes for, but if Bisping can keep it standing, he should have the upper hand as he hasn’t needed much of a ground game during his long and successful UFC career. The same goes for Fabio Maldonado, who has attempted just six takedowns through his nine-fight UFC career. As a former pro-boxer, Maldonado clearly prefers to trade leather, which could make for some fun fireworks against his slugger opponent, and UFC rookie, Steve Bosse. Sarah Kaufman may have some grappling credentials, but she doesn’t appear to favor them. Instead, Kaufman prefers to put on a blistering standup striking pace. Given that her current matchup is against a submission specialist, Kaufman is very unlikely to attempt takedowns here. And last on the list is John Makdessi, who is a pure striker to the core. Makdessi has not attempted a single takedown during over 90 minutes of Octagon time. With multiple striking black belts to his credit, Makdessi appears to want every fight to stay standing, and this weekend against newcomer and striking specialist Shane Campbell, the pair will likely have a striking duel. For information on getting the “Fightnomics” the book, go here. Follow along on Twitter for the latest UFC stats and MMA analysis, or on Facebook, if you prefer. Want to put your knowledge to the test in Fantasy MMA for cash? Use the code “FIGHTNOMICS” for an immediate 25% deposit bonus at Kountermove.