This article is part of our Fight Stat Wrap series.
Thanks to the main event, UFC 231 is likely to be remembered as an epic event. Featherweight champion Max Holloway successfully defended his title over Brian Ortega. Along the way, he set multiple records and registered the highest DraftKings score of the year. The rest of the main card also produced several memorable moments. 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.
Max Holloway sets multiple records and personal bests against Brian Ortega
From a statistical perspective, this might be one of the best performances of all time. Against Ortega, he landed 290 significant strikes, which eclipsed the record for most significant strikes landed in a fight previously set by Nate Diaz against Donald Cerrone in 2011. In the fourth round alone, he landed 134 significant strikes, which broke the record held by Neil Magny, who landed 114 in the second round against Hector Lombard in 2016.
Those 134 landed significant strikes in the fourth round equate to 26.8 significant strikes per minute, which was his career best rate for a round. Interestingly enough, Holloway has set a new personal best for significant strikes landed per minute in the final round of his last three fights.
In the four-round fight, Holloway showed both striking accuracy and output. He attempted more significant strikes in each round and landed at a higher rate in each round. Ortega, on the other hand, desperately went for takedowns. While he landed a pair of takedowns, he finished two for 11 and was never able to hold the champion down for a meaningful period of time.
Whenever a fighter breaks multiple records for striking, it is a safe bet that said fighter ended up with a high DraftKings score. Holloway is not an exception. Based almost entirely on his striking and the fourth-round finish bonus, he earned players 190 points. The score was not only the highest score of the night, but it was also the highest score of the year.
Valentina Shevchenko sets the bar at 125 pounds against Joanna Jedrzejczyk
While the final striking totals were somewhat close (89 significant strikes landed for Shevchenko compared to 78 landed for Jedrzejczyk), this fight belonged to the "Bullet" from start to finish. First, Jedrzejczyk had to work much harder to land strikes. In order to keep it close with Shevchenko, she attempted 59 more significant strikes. Second, Shevchenko landed the more meaningful strikes throughout the contest. Not all strikes are created equal, but the new champion outlanded Jedrzejczyk 50 to 12 in terms of significant head strikes. Lastly, Shevchenko was able to make a difference in the early rounds with her wrestling. She landed four takedowns in the first two rounds and forced the former strawweight champion to struggle back to her feet.
For her efforts, Shevchenko finished with 108.5 DraftKings points. On some nights, that might end up being the top score. However, UFC 231 produced some wild results, so this was only the fifth-highest score of the night. Her five takedowns and three passes helped push her over the 100-point mark.
Gunnar Nelson opens up Alex Oliveira on the ground
Nelson did not land very many strikes against Oliveira, but the ones he did land made an impact. In the first round, Oliveira outlanded Nelson 30 to two, and he appeared to be on the way to a victory. However, in the second round, Nelson scored a late takedown. On the floor, he landed all eight of his significant strikes including one nasty elbow. The elbow opened a huge cut and appeared to greatly assist the rear-naked choke finish. While this was a victory, Nelson needs to find a way to keep pace in the striking game. In his UFC career, he has been outlanded by his opponent in eight of 11 fights. He has gone 8-3 in those fights, but fighting from behind is basically playing with fire.
Nelson was not very active in the fight, but he still finished with a respectable score due to the second-round finish. He earned players 91.5 points on DraftKings, which was the eighth-highest score of the night.
Hakeem Dawodu has very little trouble against Kyle Bochniak
Dawodu was a big favorite in this fight. He basically schooled Bochniak in the striking game. Overall, he outlanded him 103 to 42 on significant strikes, and he had the edge by at least 15 significant strikes in each of the three rounds. After falling to Danny Henry via quick submission in his UFC debut, Dawodu has bounced back with a pair of impressive striking performances. It will be interesting to see how he looks against an opponent who is not overmatched in the striking exchanges.
Dawodu finished with 81.5 DraftKings points. Considering he was such a large favorite, many players were probably hoping for a finish and a better score against Bochniak.
Thiago Santos wins wild brawl against Jimi Manuwa
When this fight ended, it seemed like this would easily be the best fight of the night. If Holloway and Ortega had not turned in a gem in the main event, this would clearly have been what people were talking about. Both fighters threw caution to the wind and slugged it out. Despite the powerful exchanges, Santos seemed to always get the better of his opponent. In the first round, he landed 33 of his 55 significant strike attempts and a knockdown. Manuwa was clearly worse for wear after the first round, but he came out for the second. Santos continued to pour it on with another nine significant strikes, another knockdown and the finish.
For the second-round finish, Santos earned 119 points for DraftKings players. In addition to the stoppage and his 42 significant strikes, the two knockdowns helped push his score into the third-highest spot for the card.