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.

UFC205 KO Potential

Editor’s Note: Both the Cerrone/Gastelum and the Evans/Kennedy fights have been cancelled.

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.

Heaviest Hitters

Strangely enough, four Welterweights top the list for best Knockdown Rate at UFC 205. But Tyron Woodley is the hardest hitter on the fight card, and it isn’t even close. It took one clean right hand to upset former champion Robbie Lawler for the Welterweight title, a perfect exclamation point on Woodley’s patient title run from Strikeforce through the UFC. However, it’s worth noting that his opponent at UFC 205 is one of the most skilled and evasive strikers in the division, so it will be very interesting to see if Woodley utilizes his wrestling base instead of getting into a striking duel.

Editor’s Note: Both the Cerrone/Gastelum and the Evans/Kennedy fights have been cancelled.

Donald Cerrone has logged the most career knockdowns in his WEC/UFC career at 17, which is far more than anyone on the card. Although a distant second from Woodley, Cerrone has maintained an unusually high Knockdown Rate through a very active career, and one that was mostly at Lightweight. Punch for punch, he’ll have a power advantage over opponent Kelvin Gastelum this weekend.

A Welterweight now making his Lightweight debut is Thiago Alves, long a feared power striker. Alves has scored 11 knockdowns to date, second only to Cerrone. He also throws more leg kicks than anyone on the card – they account for 22% of all his standing strikes.

Also worth mentioning is relative newcomer and current Welterweight challenger, Stephen Thompson. “Wonderboy” manages to combine precision with pace with power, and has outstruck everyone he’s faced on the feet in his title run. His striking arsenal is very head kick heavy, which makes his strikes that much more threatening.


Don’t Expect a KO

Most of the fight card has at least scored a single knockdown, so only a few show up with a Knockdown Rate of zero. In this case, that’s a little misleading. For one, Alvarez clearly has some power, as he rocked former Lightweight champion Rafael dos Anjos to set up a first round ground finish in one of the bigger title fight upsets of 2016.

And for that matter, Joanna Jedrzejczyk also shows up misleadingly low, as she has finished more than one opponent via strikes while still standing – an impressive feat on its own. Still, her matchup against challenger Karolina Kowalkiewicz could be a striking duel that takes a full five rounds to evolve.

The unlikeliest early finish on the card is the Meisha Tate versus Raquel Pennington matchup. Both are scrappy and tough, but neither has a killer move in striking or submissions to make a KO or sub likely, so expect this to be a grinder of a decision.


At Risk for a KO

Despite all the veteran names on the card, none are in the category of truly past their prime (which does happen in MMA). It’s mostly Middleweights falling under the UFC average for knockdown resiliency, but just barely. And two of them, Kennedy and Evans, are likely being rescheduled for another event.

That leaves Rafael Natal as potentially at risk against heavy handed Tim Boetsch – though that scenario would be an upset. Tate too is unlikely to find herself in much trouble standing against Pennington due to raw power, but could get outstruck if the fight stays there.

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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.