WATCH: TOMMY TOE HOLD – UFC 211 CLOSE UP
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.
NOTE: The Henry Judo/Sergio Pettis fight has been canceled.
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.
Despite Heavyweight headliners, the card in Dallas won’t be that big on power. While both fighters in the main event show up higher than the UFC average, that should be expected for Heavyweights. And then only two more are above the benchmark on the entire fight card.
Still, Junior Dos Santos leads the pack with a Knockdown Rate of 5.4% on six knockdowns scored. His opponent Miocic is solid by his own right in terms of knockdowns, but not by Heavyweight standards. Both men are knockout threats should they land cleanly first.
And perhaps misleading is the 4.5% Knockdown Rate for Gabriel Benitez. He’s only landed one knockdown in the UFC, but he hasn’t landed a lot of volume yet. It will be interesting to see if the potential is real, or if he regresses to the mean.
Actually, it’s Featherweight Dustin Poirier who leads the fight card with the most knockdowns scored to date at 10. His 4.2% Knockdown Rate is well above the division average with plenty of sample size, and he has a favorable matchup should he and Alvarez choose to trade leather.
At Risk for a KO
Speaking of that opponent, former Lightweight champ Eddie Alvarez suffered three of his four knockdowns received in the UFC in one fight against Conor McGregor. That one fight inflated his defensive metric, but arguably you could cut it in half he’d still be near the bottom of the graph. Alvarez wisely took his time returning to the Octagon, but now faces the aforementioned Poirier, who has been quite adept at dropping his opponents.
James Vick, on the other hand, has also been susceptible to knockdowns, but also has recovered quickly and even won a fight after suffering two. Still, flash knockdown susceptibility is not a good trait to have in MMA, especially when facing a fairly aggressive striker in Marco Polo Reyes.
Don’t Expect a KO
Five of these fighters have yet to log a knockdown in UFC action. Of those, Chas Skelly and Jason Knight will be facing off against each other. Both fighters attempt an above average rate of takedowns, while also having below average defense. It’s hard to tell who will get the upper hand first, but it’s unlikely to be fireworks that determine the outcome.
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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.