By @fightnomics When Ronda Rousey walks to the cage at UFC 190, it won’t be a matter of “if,” but “how fast?” Rousey’s finishes have broken arms as well as records, and despite the foregone conclusion of victory for the champ who is favored more than 15-to-1, we’re still going to tune in to see it all happen. But is Ronda Rousey really the submission threat that we make her out to be? Yes. Undeniably so. Her submissions come at a furious pace, and her success rate converting them is three times the UFC average. And one way to demonstrate this is with the following analysis. These metrics show the rate of submission successes and attempts per minute, so as to adjust for career length. The UFC averages for these benchmarks are shown, and as you can see there’s a wide spread in terms of which fighters like to wield their submission game. Let’s see how they all stack up.
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Best in Class Yes, Ronda Rousey is without a doubt the most dangerous submission threat this weekend, and arguably of all-time. The rate at which she submits people is twice that of the next closest comparable fighter. In measured Strikeforce and UFC fights, Ronda has converted five of eight submission attempts, which not only came a lot faster than most submission attempts, but were converted much more effectively. How she chooses to finish Bethe Correia at UFC 190 will be the surprise she reveals soon enough. Other Dangerous Submission Artists The best of the rest includes two Heavyweights, a division not normally known for their submission games. But Stefan Struve and Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira are both dangerous with their submissions simply due to how frequently they come. Their success rates are comparable, but Struve especially throws constant submissions on the mat, and scored a rare, perfect no-strike victory over Lavar Johnson. Both UFC victories for 3rd degree BJJ Black Belt Leandro Issa have come by submission, but he’s also been submitted one himself. Still, his submissions have been coming at twice the usual pace, and his success rate is good too. He’s facing another solid grappler in Iuri Alcantara, but one who has not used his grappling game as much in his UFC career. Claudia Gadelha took current Strawweight champ Joanna Jedrzejczyk to a close split decision, and is likely on a path to a rematch. Although she hasn’t converted any submission attempts to wins in the UFC, her total career includes 6 submissions in 12 victories. Demian Maia is widely considered one of the best BJJ players in the UFC, and he’s tied with Struve for most UFC submission attempts amongst the group. His conversion rate is also well ahead of average, but he has his work cut out for him on the feet against the much rangier Neil Magny. Undefeated Warley Alves is just two fights into his UFC career, but he did finish one opponent by submission. He’ll likely have the submission advantage over veteran grinder Nordine Taleb. Middle of the Pack Several fighters have used some submission attempts, but not at a very high rate, and not to the effect of winning by submission in the UFC just yet. That includes several Brazilians who clearly have the skill, like Shogun Ruan, Bigfoot Silva, and Antonio Rogerio Nogueira. Others in this group aren’t known for submissions like wrestler Patrick Cummins and striker Rafael Cavalvante, who will be facing off in a wrestler-striker matchup this weekend. Neil Magny trails this group with just one submission attempt in his impressive UFC career to date, but he was successful in converting that choke to a win. However, given that he’s matched up with Demian Maia across the cage, don’t expect Magny to be looking to take this to the ground at any point. Not Going for Submissions Among the fighters who have yet to attempt a submission, it’s mostly relative newcomers who may not have had a good chance to employ their ground game yet. But in some cases, it’s also a stylistic indicator of a fighter who doesn’t rely on grappling. That true for the title challenger Bethe Correia, who has relied heavily on her hands to maintain her undefeated streak. It’s also true for the heavy-handed Clint Hester and Soa Palelei, who have earned most of their career victories via T/KO. Hester is paired with Miranda, another fighter who has yet to use submissions, in a fight that could be a fun striking duel. All in all here, UFC 190 should end with a bang by pairing two fighters on absolute opposite extremes of this finishing metric. But there’s also an interesting Heavyweight battle that could give us some submission potential on both sides of the cage, as well as a few stylistic mismatches that will escalate the importance of the battle for position. For information on getting the “Fightnomics” the book, go here.