Another big title fight tops the UFC main card
Israel Adesanya, the undisputed middleweight champion, will defend his belt against the former champ Robert Whittaker. Leading up to the title fight, we will see Derrick Lewis face Tai Tuivasa in a bout between two heavyweight knockout masters. Before that, middleweights Jared Cannonier and Derek Brunson face off.
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 three of the fights. All stats below and in the charts refer to data from the fighters’ UFC fights.
Israel Adesanya vs Robert Whittaker: Middleweight Title Rematch
Will “The Last Stylebender” Adesanya beat “The Reaper” Whittaker for a second time, after taking the belt back at UFC 243 in 2019? Or will the Australian former champion win back the title, opening up the road for an exciting trilogy?
On paper, this is a true Middleweight title bout between the best two fighters in the weight division. They both significantly outstrike their opponents, thanks in large part to their 61% striking defense.
Adesanya is incredibly efficient in early rounds, Whittaker maintains a high pace
- Adesanya has a nice pace strategic pace, starting off at 30 strikes attempted and peaking at around 50 strikes attempted in the 2nd round.
- An incredible all-around striker, Adesanya uses a mixture of excellent low kicks and distance strikes as a primary attack.
- Whittaker starts his fights with around 50 strikes attempted on average and never slows down.
- As a superior boxer, “The Reaper” attempts to strike his opponents’ heads.
What to Expect
The reigning champ Israel Adesanya will be stepping into the octagon as a favorite to hold onto the middleweight title. The implied probabilities of him winning are around 75%. With his striking abilities and judging by his recent form, it is very likely that he defends his title.
Robert “The Reaper” Whittaker won’t be defeated easily, however. He’s an awesome boxer, but also a good wrestler. I expect him to take the fight to the ground in the middle of the fight and at least survive until the end. It’s said he has a good submission arsenal, which he hasn’t been able to display in the UFC and I don’t see happening especially against Adesanya.
That being said, my pick is Adesanya by decision, likely unanimous.
Derrick Lewis vs Tai Tuivasa: Heavyweights Wanna Have Fun
Derrick Lewis, the UFC record holder for the most knockouts – 13! – is looking to get a win in his home town. There couldn’t be a better opponent than Tai “Bam Bam” Tuivasa to offer fans a promising fight. The Australian is coming off of 4 straight knockout wins and has shown he is all about the entertainment.
I didn’t think I’d ever say this, but the “Black Beast” is the better and most technical fighter in this bout. Both fighters are on par regarding their attacking and defensive striking efficiency, with around 50% efficiency, but Derrick Lewis is better on the ground.
The 65% implied odds probability in favor of Derrick “The Black Beast” Lewis make perfect sense. If this was a striking-only fight, it would be 50-50 chances of either fighter winning. They are both capable of knocking each other out. However, Derrick Lewis can’t afford to lose this fight and may even be adopting a safer tactical approach. If it comes down to a decision, I see Tuivasa losing.
Jared Cannonier vs Derek Brunson: Striking vs Wrestling
The stats and graphs tell us what we already know. Derek Brunson uses his wrestling expertise to go for the takedown throughout all rounds, typically finding success in the 3rd round. He also enjoys high-paced fights, as he increases his strike attempts as fights enter the later rounds. Jared Cannonier is a really dangerous striker and is deservedly the #3 Middleweight. He beat Kelvin Gastelum by unanimous decision in 2021, and in 2019 he beat Anderson Silva and Jack Hermansson by TKO.
The bookers’ odds imply that Jared Cannonier has an over 63% chance of winning this fight. I do not think it will be an easy night for the 37 year old fighter. There are only three rounds to be played in this bout and I am quite sure Derek Brunson will be able to win at least one round by taking it to the ground. Cannonier has only 71% takedown defense rate in the UFC and Brunson will likely succeed in that. Cannonier is tough though so perhaps a split decision in his favor is a likely outcome.
What are your expectations for this exciting UFC night?