All bouts have to start with two fighters standing at a distance, and when they do there’s always a chance that someone is going to get dropped. Once a fighter scores a knockdown in a fight, their chances of winning rise dramatically, and often it sets up an early finish. That means that identifying knockout potential on a card can mean big points for your fantasy team.

So where does that potential lie among this weekend’s competitors? Here is how they stack up in their historical performance of scoring and receiving knockdowns in the cage.

Knockdown Rate here is defined as Distance Knockdowns per Distance Landed Power Head Strike. It’s not a perfect metric, but it’s a great proxy to understand how those highlight reel finishes happen. The UFC average for Knockdown Rate is 2.3%, meaning there are typically 43 power head strikes landed before a knockdown occurs, each with a 2.3% chance of being the strike that does the job. But there’s a lot of variation between weight classes and the individual athletes within them.

For fantasy players, this boils down to knowing who has a good chance to drop their opponent on fight night, and who is most at risk for getting knocked out. In both cases, it’s better to be at the top of the graph, and worse to be near the bottom.

UFC 202 KO Potential

Heavy Hitters

In what is actually a rare occurrence for a Pay-Per-View weekend, there is not an abundance of heavy hitters on the card. There are, however, lots of very accurate strikers. But one should stand out as no surprise: Anthony “Rumble” Johnson. With 12 recorded knockdowns in the UFC to date, Johnson is already on the leaderboard for that metric, and could threaten to set the record held by Anderson Silva before he is through. Johnson’s current double-digit Knockdown Rate of 13% means it takes only 9 landed power head strikes on average for him to drop an opponent. He’ll face Glover Teixeira, who, while having decent hands himself, will probably prefer to get the fight to the mat. Even though Teixeira has never been knocked down in the UFC, he is the oldest fighter competing on the card, which doesn’t help against Rumble’s power.

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Also notable is Donald Cerrone, who has 13 recorded knockdowns if we include WEC action. Cowboy has recently moved up a weight class, which should retain his power. Although it also means he’ll be taking harder shots than he’s received in the past. His opponent Rick Story is well-rounded, and physically stronger than Cerrone’s prior opponents, so if Cowboy doesn’t land the KO, he could be in for a long fight. This matchup could go either way.
Hyun Gyu Lim has scored knockdowns at a solid pace, finishing three UFC opponents by strikes. He was originally scheduled to face a potentially vulnerable opponent in Sultan Aliev, but now takes on a newcomer in Mike Perry.

Cody Garbrandt recently made a name for himself KO’ing Thomas Almeida in the main event of a Vegas fight night. Garbrandt got a lot of buzz for that finish, but it’s nothing new for him, as he’s finished all but one of his career opponents. His opponent this weekend is Takeya Mizugaki, who doesn’t mind standing a trading. This one could end with a bang.

Lastly, Conor McGregor will hope his power striking is on point in the main event in his rematch against Nate Diaz. McGregor definitely will prefer to keep the fight standing, but also be more patient picking his shots against Diaz. McGregor throws a lot of heat behind his punches, and also uses a high mix of head kicks in his striking arsenal. But he’s also at risk against Diaz, who can damage opponents with rangy striking of his own.


Don’t Expect a KO

Five of the fighters on the card at UFC 202 who already have Octagon experience have yet to score a knockdown. That includes both Women’s Bantamweights, Raquel Pennington and Elizabeth Murphy. A brutal KO is highly unlikely in this matchup, although a flurry finish due to position is still possible. Expect this one to go the distance.


At Risk for a KO

Relative newcomer Alberto Uda did not fare well in his UFC debut, getting finished by second round TKO. Among fighters with more sample size, Neil Magny may be at risk facing lightning fast striker Lorenz Larkin. Magny has a huge range advantage, and he’ll either want to stay on the outside against Larkin, or close the distance quickly and make it a grinder of a fight.

 


I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is “fightnomics”) and may sometimes play on my personal account in the games that I offer advice on. Although I have expressed my personal view on the games and strategies above, they do not necessarily reflect the view(s) of DraftKings and I may also deploy different players and strategies than what I recommend above.