MMA Advanced Stats – UFC 266 Preview

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An Overdue Rematch Followed by Flyweight and Featherweight Title Fights

What a card! Two titles are up for grabs. Alexander Volkanovski will defend the Featherweight belt against Brian Ortega. Valentina Shevchenko will defend her Flyweight title against Lauren Murphy. Before the two main events, Nick Diaz will fight Robbie Lawler 17 years after he beat him in UFC 47.

If you’ve landed here, you probably already know what’s set for Saturday’s UFC event. What I want to add is a view of stats and fight strategy for the three fights mentioned earlier. All stats below and in the charts refer to data from the fighters’ UFC fights.

Volkanovski seems confident, Ortega might be able to surprise him

Alexander Volkanovski started out as a great prospect and turned out to exceed the expectations. He capitalized on his great performances and won the featherweight belt in 2019 against Max Holloway. In the UFC, he lands 6 strikes per minute on average with 56% accuracy! His wrestling background leads him to achieving over 2 takedowns per 15 minutes, with an impressive 25% takedown accuracy.

Brian Ortega looks like a bad fighter on paper. He gets hit too often, with over 6 strikes absorbed per minute. His striking defense is 54% and his striking accuracy is just 38%. However, his submissions are just incredible. He averages over 1 successful submission per 15 minutes in the UFC!

Volkanovski can outlast his opponents, Ortega gets hit more as the fights go on

  • Volkanovski has the experience to stay calm and fight from a distance in the last rounds of his fights.
  • He strongly prefers hitting the opponent’s legs.
  • Takedowns tend to take place in the early rounds.
  • Ortega can take a hit. At any time throughout the fight, however, he will go for the submission.
  • He tends to be more aggressive in the 3rd round.
  • The 4th round is typically his worst – he gets hit most then.

What to Expect

Volkanovski is the favorite here and will probably win it. He tends to control his fights from early on and I doubt Ortega will be able to pull off a sneaky submission. It is likely though that the fight will take up all five rounds. The pick here is Volkanovski by unanimous decision.

Valentina Shevchenko vs Lauren Murphy: Women’s Flyweight Title Bout

Valentina Shevchenko is an amazing wrestler and she knows it. Averaging over 2.6 takedowns per 15 minutes, she’s incredibly dominant as a flyweight. Her fights as a bantamweight were quite different to her current approach. Shevchenko relies on her strong takedown game and with almost 50% takedown accuracy, it’s obvious that she will be focusing on her strengths.

Lauren Murphy has had an impressive record with five straight UFC wins. She’s not the most efficient, at just 42% striking accuracy, but she does land almost 4 strikes per minute. She knows how to hit hard.

Shevchenko wrestles throughout the first half of the fight, Murphy consistently strikes

It’s quite clear from the “Accuracy per Round” graph that Valentina Shevchenko uses her wrestling skills in the first three rounds of her fights. The “Strikes per Round” graph shows that in the 4th and 5th rounds she relies more on her striking. She prefers leg strikes than body attempts.

This is not the case for Lauren Murphy. She starts out strong in the first round but evens out her striking attempts in rounds 2 and 3. Remember, she’s never found a 5-round UFC contest.

Valentina Shevchenko is the clear favorite here. I don’t expect her to lose the title, but I’m pretty sure Lauren Murphy will give the champion a hard time. It’s possible that the fight goes into the 4th round and even up to the 5th round, and Shevchenko will almost definitely come out victorious.

Nick Diaz vs Robbie Lawler

The fight between Nick Diaz and Robbie Lawler may be the most anticipated of the night. This is essentially a rematch that is 17 years in the making! The two fighters had a great bout at UFC 47 back in 2004, where Diaz upset Lawler by knocking him on his feet.

There was a last minute weight change requested by Nick Diaz and the fight will be at the middleweight category. Despite Diaz leaving the UFC in 2015 and Lawler being at the dawn of his career, having lost four straight fights, MMA fans are hyped for the battle.

Nick Diaz is a great boxer and is quite the submission artist too. Former Welterweight champion Robbie Lawler is a great striker and knows how to defend as well. It’s hard to predict the outcome.

Grappling vs Striking

The stats and graphs kinda tell the story. Historically, Nick Diaz starts out hard and attempts most of his strikes in the first two rounds. Round 3 is where we see him attempt his takedowns and submissions. “Ruthless” Lawler on the other hand starts out slow and picks up his striking pace as the fight goes on.

Robbie Lawler will be stepping into the octagon as the favorite but it’s up to Nick Diaz to overcome the odds, survive, and go for a win via decision.

I hope you enjoyed the stats analysis. Feel free to reach out for questions! If you’d like a video tutorial or written code to do your own UFC analysis, let me know in the comments.

What are your expectations for this exciting UFC night?

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