Two championship rematches top an amazing fight card
MMA fans, it’s time for the fights we’ve all been waiting for! We have two rematches where two sets of rivals will be battling for a belt. The welterweight title is up for grabs with #1 pound-for-pound fighter Kamaru Usman defending his belt against Colby Covington, two years after their incredible fight in UFC 245.
The co-main event will be a rematch with Rose Namajunas defending her strawweight title against Weili Zhang, a few months after their fight in UFC 261 in late April 2021.
Even the preliminary card is one to watch – make sure to tune in on the fight between “The Spartan” Andreas Michailidis against kickboxing star Alex Pereira.
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 advanced stats and fight strategy for the five top bouts. All stats below and in the charts refer to data from the fighters’ UFC fights.
Kamaru Usman vs Colby Covington: A rematch between the best welterweights we’ve seen in a while
Kamaru Usman is 14-0 in the UFC! He has been the welterweight champion since UFC 235, which took place in March 2019. Since then he has defended his title four times successfully. He beat Colby Covington by TKO in the 5th, Jorge Masvidal by unanimous decision, Gilbert Burns by TKO in the 3rd, and Jorge Masvidal again by KO in the 2nd round.
Colby Covington is 11-2 in the UFC with six wins coming by unanimous decision. After his loss to Usman in December 2019 he’s only fought once, beating Tyron Woodley by TKO in September 2020.
Stats-wise these two fighter must be the most impressive I’ve analyzed so far. In the UFC, they both average over 4 strikes landed per minute and the both have 56% striking defense. Usman’s striking efficiency is 57%, better than Colby’s 45%. Covington’s takedown accuracy is 42% and he averages 4.61 takedowns per 15 minutes, better than Usman’s 34% accuracy that leads to 3.27 takedowns per 15 minutes.
Usman and Covington are tireless
- Usman tends to dominate with body strikes, with almost double the attacks than his opponents.
- He has a great variety of attacks and takedowns.
- He has successfully defended 100% of all takedown attempts against him!
- Covington has plenty of energy and fights at full speed throughout all rounds.
- He attempts most of his takedowns early on and tends to increase his distance and head striking attempts later in the fight.
What to Expect
Kamaru Usman is still the clear favorite here and is likely to defend his belt for the fifth time and third this year. This likely will not happen easy and we should see Colby lasting at least 4 rounds, possibly losing by decision in the end.
Rose Namajunas vs Zhang Weili: Strawweight Title Bout
Rose Namajunas is 8-3 in the UFC and capitalized on her great performances by winning the belt off of Zhang Weili this past April. She is a great striker as well as grappler. Despite having just 45% striking accuracy in the UFC, she averages over 4 strikes landed per minute. She absorbs almost 4 strikes per minute with 59% defense rate. She attempts almost 2 takedowns per 15 minutes.
Zhang Weili was on a 21-fight winning streak before losing to Namajunas in UFC 261. She has shown 63% striking accuracy leading to 5.38 strikes landed per minute and has defended 100% of all takedown attempts against her.
Namajunas starts with striking and attempts takedowns later in the fight, Zhang starts with hard striking and increases her pace as the fight goes on
There is no clear favorite in this fight. Despite being knocked out in their previous meeting, we know that Zhang has a hard chin and can take a hit. At the same time, Namajunas is an excellent finisher and has shown how tough she is. I may be picking Zhang but I’m not too confident. I will probably just sit back and enjoy the fight!
Frankie Edgar vs Marlon Vera: Experience vs Confidence
The stats and graphs tell the story quite well in this case. Historically, both fighters tend to pick up their striking pace as the fights go on. They both average over 3.5 strikes landed per minute. BJJ black belt Vera is quite the submission artist, with 1.28 submissions per 15 minutes. Frankie Edgar on the other hand is a great wrestler and averages over 2.28 takedowns per 15 minutes.
Marlon Vera will be stepping into the octagon as a slight favorite. 40-year-old Frankie Edgar has had quite the experience, with 28 UFC fights, but having lost 3 of his last 4 fights, his UFC glory days seem to be behind him. However, he may be able to put on a great tactical display so I expect this fight to reach the 3rd round.
Shane Burgos vs Billy Quarantillo: Striking vs Grappling
The stat that caught my eye is Shane “The Hurricane” Burgos landing 7.29 strikes per minute on just 48% striking accuracy. This indicates a very high pace! Billy Quarantillo has an impressive 63% accuracy leading to 6.22 strikes landed per minute. Quarantillo seems to be good with submissions and takedowns as well.
In the UFC, Shane Burgos has two TKOs by punches and one submission by armbar. Billy Quarantillo has one TKO and one KO by punches, as well as another win by triangle choke.
Shane Burgos is the favorite in this fight and given his pace it may even come by knockout. Either way, this should be a really exciting fight.
Alexander Volkov vs Marcin Tybure: Striking vs Grappling
Gaethje vs Chandler: likely the most anticipated fight of the event.
The hype around both these fighters has been intense. All eight of Gaethje‘s UFC fights have ended in a finish and all five of his wins have come by TKO or KO by punches. With a tremendous 7.46 strikes landed per minute and 59% striking accuracy, Justin Gaethje is one anyone should fear. At the same time, Gaethje receives almost 8 strikes per minute.
At the other corner, we have Michael Chandler, who joined the UFC this year after an incredible career at Bellator. After beating Dan Hooker by TKO (punches), he lost the Lightweight Championship fight by TKO to Charles Oliveira.
The odds are in favor of Gaethje here. Given his pace and striking ability, it’s likely that we’ll see a knockout in the first or second round. I’d like to see Chandler battle it out strategically but really doubt he’ll have the opportunity to do so.