Snapstats: Who is the Most Accurate Striker at UFC Fight Night 65?
In last week’s “fight of the century,” Manny Pacquiao averaged 27% power strike accuracy chasing the elusive Floyd Mayweather, who landed his own power head strikes at a more impressive 48%, although on much lower power volume. Boxing striking is different in many ways from MMA standup, but that metric of accuracy is often very telling in terms of which fighter is the more technical in a matchup.
So now let’s turn our attention towards this weekend’s UFC Fight Night in Adelaide, Australia, which promises far more potential for knockouts than most gave the May-Pac matchup. So let’s see how these fighters stack up in terms of power head strike accuracy. Note, some fighters with insufficient sample size were excluded.
Middleweight Dylan Andrews will enjoy a semi-home cage advantage over his British opponent Brad Scott this weekend, but Andrews also enjoys the highest accuracy on the card. Andrews claims a boxing background and uses a measured, but effective pace to try to pick apart opponents on the feet. It’s also interesting that he utilizes a very diverse striking attack in terms of his target selection, with more than twice the usual mix of leg kicks, and a tendency to switch striking stance.
Former kickboxer and main attraction for the event, Mark Hunt, comes in at #2 on the list in terms of accuracy. That’s dangerous, because Hunt is also one of the hardest hitters on the card, and floored the stout-bearded Roy Nelson just last September on his way to an interim title shot. The problem for Hunt is that his 74-inch reach is extremely small compared to the Heavyweight average. So the real keys for him with either be timing counters, or closing the distance.
Interestingly, Hunt’s opponent Stipe Miocic comes in just behind Hunt with his equally impressive accuracy. While Miocic doesn’t have the same power as his opponent, he does have a higher pace of striking, and also more evasive defense. Those strengths combined with his wrestling background helped push him to favorite status in the main event.
“Smil’n” Sam Alvey has two UFC wins to date, both by first-round KO. It helps that he lands more than a third of his power head strikes, and that could be very bad for his opponent Dan Kelly, who is not only 37 years old, but showed poor evasiveness in his UFC debut (tiny sample size caveat!).
Another New Zealander hoping for a neighborly boost is Robert Whittaker, who has used a rapid fire rate of striking that has also been fairly precise. His striking stats look good on paper, and even in comparison to Brad Tavares, but Whittaker will still be a slight underdog to his far more experienced opponent.
Aussie Kyle Noke returns from a year long layoff after his loss to TUF Nations opposing coach, Patrick Cote. While Noke has won more of his fights by submission, his striking still comes in above average for the Middleweight division. He takes on the undefeated UFC rookie, Jonavan Webb.
American James Vick has managed to outwork opponents on the feet while maintaining good striking accuracy. Interestingly, in Vick’s last fight he became one of the few fighters to suffer two knockdowns yet still go on to win the fight by decision. So he also appears to have a lot of heart.
Sean O’Connell will no doubt look to keep the fight against Australian Anthony Perosh standing, as this fight will be a stylistic clash. O’Connell’s striking has been effective so far, while his opponent, the 42-year old “Hippo,” is an experienced submission ace. This one shouldn’t go the distance, one way or the other.
Middle of the Pack
Alptekin Ozkilic may only appear “average” on paper in terms of accuracy, but since he competes in the Flyweight division that is the most elusive of all, his power striking success rate is actually pretty good. But he’s also hanging onto a 1-2 record in the UFC. So he’ll need everything in his arsenal against newcomer and Muay Thai striking specialist Ben Nguyen.
Hatsu Hioki is one of the more experienced fighters on the card, despite a losing UFC record. His striking stats are quite average, but his grappling is generally his best bet to win a fight. He has more submission victories than by any other method, which he should try to leverage against his younger and much larger opponent, Daniel Hooker.
Brad Scott has connected with a very average success to date, despite boasting a boxing and Muay Thai base. The Englishman not only faces the more accurate Dylan Andrews, but will also be at a slight range disadvantage in the matchup.
Co-main eventer Brad Tavares, despite coming in just below benchmark, has also faced decent competition and looked pretty good in his 8-3 UFC run. In fact, Tavares has more UFC experience than anyone on the entire fight card with his 11 UFC appearances and 148 Octagon minutes.
Swing and a Miss (sort of)
Only two fighters come in low on the striking accuracy metric, likely for very different reasons. The “Hippo” Anthony Perosh is one of the only UFC fighters to maintain a winning record above age 40. At his age, he doesn’t like keeping fights standing, but that’s also because he boasts a 3rd degree BJJ black belt, built upon years of world-class grappling competition experience (and medals).
Meanwhile on the other age extreme, undefeated Melbourne native Jake Matthews is just 20 years old but part of the new generation of fighters who skipped right to MMA without specializing in a component combat sport first. While his striking in the UFC to date has not been good, he hasn’t really needed it. Matthews has finished both opponents in the UFC by submission, and has only been to one decision in his 8-0 career to date.
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Dropping science in the cage with UFC statistics & analytics. Quantifying underlying drivers of the fight game, and ending barroom disputes everywhere.
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