The UFC wrapped up another season of “The Ultimate Fighter” on Friday night. In the main event, former World Series of Fighting champion Justin Gaethje made his debut and scored an amazing come-from-behind victory over Michael Johnson. The highest possible DraftKings score was 626 with a team of Gaethje, Jesse Taylor, Jared Cannonier, CB Dollaway, Gray Maynard and Tecia Torres. The following is a by-the-numbers recap that highlights the stats and milestones that stood out on the main card, with stats courtesy of FightMetric.com.
Justin Gaethje and Michael Johnson put on a show
Gaethje made his debut in dramatic fashion. Not only was it most likely the best fight of the year, he also finished a respected veteran of the UFC lightweight division. Gaethje landed 104 significant strikes in less than two rounds of fight time. He landed 59 percent of his significant strike attempts.
Prior to this fight, nobody had landed more than 10.2 significant strikes per minute against Johnson. Gaethje eclipsed that mark with 10.61. The former World Series of Fighting champion also landed 56 percent of his distance (standing, not in the clinch) strikes against Johnson. Previously nobody had done better than 50 percent against Johnson.
Gaethje had the highest DraftKings point total on the night. He finished with 122 points. If Gaethje continue to fight like this, he will be a virtual lock for any DraftKings lineup. His biggest shortcoming is that he takes a lot of punishment. However, DraftKings does not count defense at all, so players should almost always go with Gaethje.
Jesse Taylor finishes Dhiego Lima with second-round submission
The producers of TUF got their redemption story as Taylor took home the reality show season championship in his second try. He absolutely dominated Lima in the first round, before finishing via submission 43 seconds into the second round. He allowed Lima to only attempt four significant strikes, while he landed 21.
Taylor ended up with the third-highest DraftKings score on the night. He finished with 110.5 on the strength of 21 significant strikes, two takedowns, five passes, one reversal and a 70-point bonus for the second-round finish. Despite the impressive performance, do not expect Taylor to light the world on fire in the future. He is still mostly a grinding wrestler who will take most of his wins by decision.
Drakkar Klose upsets Marc Diakiese with leg kicks
Klose pretty much derailed the Diakiese hype train. He slightly outlanded Diakiese in terms of significant strikes (39 to 34). He did his best work on strikes to the leg. He landed 86 percent of his significant strikes to the legs and appeared to injury Diakiese with those strikes.
Like many of the fighters on the main card, Klose’s DraftKings score was held down due to being in a close fight. He ended up with 67.5 points based on 39 significant strikes, three takedowns, one pass and the 30-point decision victory bonus. It is not a great score, but he came into this fight costing only $7,200.
Jared Cannonier eventually finishes Nick Roehrick
Roehrick was making his UFC debut on late notice. Many expected Cannonier to walk through him in the first round. While Cannonier did eventually earn the stoppage, Roehrick was much more game than expected. Cannonier outlanded Roehrick 84 to 28 on significant strikes. An under-the-radar aspect of Cannonier’s performance is his striking defense. He forced the newcomer to miss 83 percent of his significant strike attempts.
Cannonier finished with 95 DraftKings points, which is a respectable score especially on a night without a lot of finishes. Plus, despite being a big favorite, his pre-fight cost was only $8,900, so players only paid $93.68 per point.
Brad Tavares shows off improved grappling against Elias Theodorou
According to the broadcasters, Theodorou’s game plan was based around his normal volume striking approach. However, he abandoned this strategy after a tough first round. In that frame, Tavares was much more accurate, 43 percent to 27 percent, and made Theodorou a wrestler. In the past Tavares has struggled when pushed against the cage. In this fight, he did allow Theodorou to score three takedowns, but he did a good job getting back to his feet and scrambling on the ground. His third round reversal likely sealed the fight for him.
This fight was mostly spent on the fence fighting for position. Neither fighter was able to really push the pace. Tavares finished with 61.5 DraftKings points consisting of 31 significant strikes, one takedown, two passes and one reversal.
Jordan Johnson works his way to a decision win over Marcel Fortuna
Johnson took the decision in this fight despite being outstruck 53 to 42 by Fortuna. The Brazilian’s best round was the second in which he landed 24 significant strikes at 60 percent. Despite coming from a wrestling background, Johnson was not able to really do anything meaningful from the top position. He attempted 10 significant ground strikes and landed six.
The wrestler’s lack of activity came across in his DraftKings score. Despite winning the decision, he ended up with only 61 points.