The UFC’s return to Pittsburgh had some tough competition for viewers, but it turned out to be a night with tons of finishes and some high DFS scores. 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.
Luke Rockhold pounded out David Branch from the top position
On paper, Rockhold should have had a huge advantage on the feet in this fight. However, that did not turn out to be the case in the cage. Branch controlled the first round and landed some hard combinations. However, in the second round, Rockhold scored a takedown and dominated from the top position. Despite his reputation as a striker, Rockhold has recently relied on the ground skill. Since defeating Michael Bisping in 2014, Rockhold has landed 53 percent of his significant strikes on the floor This is a fine strategy, but he might struggle when matched against a superior wrestler like Yoel Romero or someone with strong takedown defense like Robert Whittaker.
On a night full of finishes, Rockhold finished with 115 DraftKings points. It was the second highest score on the night behind Gregor Gillespie (128). Rockhold earned points for 58 significant strikes, two takedowns, two passes and the second-round finish bonus.
Mike Perry made quick work of Alex Reyes
Reyes was clearly out of his element in this fight. He took this fight on four days notice, and he normally competes at lightweight. As expected, Perry finished the fight in the first round. “Platinum” continues to show off huge power in the UFC. He has scored knockouts in four of his five UFC fights. Per FightMetric producer Michael Carroll, he averages 2.58 knockdowns per 15 minutes of fight time, which is the third-highest rate in UFC history (minimum five fights).
Perry finished with 105.5, which was oddly enough only the fifth-highest score of the night. However, since his original opponent dropped out of the fight late, DraftKings did not update his pre-fight value. He was a heavily favored fighter who cost players only $8500, resulting in high ownership percentages in just about every contest.
Anthony Smith came on late against Hector Lombard
In the first two rounds of this bout, Lombard was in the driver’s seat. He outlanded Smith 53 to 18 on significant strikes and appeared to damager Smith’s leg with a continuous assault of leg kicks. However, in the third round, Smith came out and landed 17 significant strikes and finished the fight.
The prevailing sentiment seems to be that Lombard ran out of gas and let Smith back into the fight. While folks should not be so quick to diminish the Smith victory, Lombard does have a reputation for fading in fights. Lombard has had eight fights go past the first round in the UFC. In five of those fights his significant strikes per minute rate dropped after the first round in five of those fights, including Saturday.
Smith finished with 72.5 DraftKings points. He landed 35 significant strikes and a knockdown, but did not score any other stat points.
Gregor Gillespie and Jason Gonzalez put on a show
Gillespie came into this fight as a big favorite, but this turned out to be one of the best fights in the UFC this year. Gonzalez was more than happy to go for broke early, and while he eventually ended up on the ground in both rounds, he landed some heavy shots. The story of this fight was Gillespie’s wrestling and top work. The former Edinboro wrestler finished four of his six takedown attempts, earned six passes on the ground and finished the fight with an arm-triangle choke from the mount. This fight answered a lot of question about Gillespie. He showed that he can deal with an opponent throwing heavy artillery, and that he can catch submissions against UFC caliber opponents.
Gillespie had the highest DraftKings score of the night. He finished with 128 points. In addition to finishing in the second round, he also landed four takedowns, six passes, a knockdown and 20 significant strikes. Despite coming from a wrestling background, he has shown he can put up some points in DFS. After three UFC fights, he is average 111.5 points per fight.
Kamaru Usman picked up first UFC KO over Sergio Moraes
On a night full of knockouts, Usman was an unexpected knockout artist. Since joining the UFC in 2015, the former wrestler had scored one submission and four decisions in the Octagon. However, he was clearly looking for the knockout. While he did land 16 significant strikes and finish the fight in the first round, this free throwing strategy is probably not the best idea for him. He allowed Moraes, who is mostly a submission grappler, to land 13 significant strikes at a 48 percent slip. Against a more polished striker, Usman could end up being the one doing the inadvertent and unconscious forward roll.
Usman is not normally a threat to put up major points, but he took advantage of the opportunity, scored the first-round finish and ended up with 108 DraftKings points.
Justin Ledet stuck with the jab against Zu Anyanwu
This fight was an extremely interesting competition from a judging perspective. Many pundits seemed upset that one of the judges awarded the fight to Anyanwu. None of the media members tracked by MMADecisions.com gave the fight to Anyanwu. However, according to the strike stats, this fight was much closer. In the first round, Ledet outlanded Anyanwu 13 to 7, but that was the only round in which he landed more strikes. They both landed 13 strikes in the second round, and Anyanwu had the advantage 17 to 10 in the third round. Plus, Anyanwu was throwing power strikes throughout the fight, while Ledet stuck almost exclusively to the jab. Ledet did attempt 126 strikes in the fight, but he only landed 36. Are MMA fans okay living in a world where missed jabs secured victories?
Since Ledet mostly threw jabs and only landed 36 significant strikes, he ended up scoring just 48 points on DraftKings.