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 it often 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.
While the UFC’s return to the state of New York isn’t loaded with sluggers, it does boast arguably the hardest hitter currently in the UFC, Anthony Johnson. Johnson’s Knockdown Rate of 14% is one of the best in the sport, and he’s maintained that rate on 13 knockdowns scored. He’s currently tied for third all-time in knockdowns scored and is certainly on pace to surpass Donald Cerrone and Anderson Silva given enough time. There’s no doubt that Daniel Cormier, having felt Johnson’s power early in their first fight, does not want to test his own chin again in their rematch.
While Myles Jury is second on the list, his Knockdown Rate is based on a smaller sample size and just two actual knockdowns scored. Jury is much more comfortable getting fights to the ground than standing in the pocket. Don’t expect him to do much damage while standing, and instead try to exploit his opponent’s hesitancy to get to the ground. We expect his Knockdown Rate to regress to the mean with time.
Thiago Alves is tied for eighth on the all-time knockdown list with 11 scored and a solid Knockdown Rate of 5.6%. While he’ll again be out-ranged in this matchup, like many others, if he gets close he’s always capable of doing damage with his strikes.
Chris Weidman’s losing skid belies the fact that he’s faced, and defeated, some of the most dangerous strikers in the sport, like Anderson Silva, Vitor Belfort and Lyoto Machida. Weidman hasn’t been afraid to stand in the pocket with anyone, which means we could see some leather fly when he takes on decorated kickboxer Gegard Mousasi.
Don’t Expect a KO
Five of these quantified fighters have not scored a single distance knockdown to date, and in several cases, that’s because they are primarily wrestlers.
Will Brooks, Patrick Cummins and Kamaru Usman are all dominant wrestlers, rarely ever giving up control on the ground. While Usman does have solid striking stats to date, expect Brooks and Cummins to be desperate to get the fight off the feet.
At Risk for a KO
Patrick Cummins, already noted for his wrestling prowess and potential, has not fared well when he hasn’t succeeded getting the fight to the mat.
No other fighters show up as having above average risk, which is a bit unusual for a PPV card with veterans. However, given the offensive potential, we should hardly expect there not to be any KO highlights!
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