Photo by Esther Lin for MMA Fighting.
Light Heavyweights Alexander Gustafsson and Thiago Silva headline UFC on Fuel TV 2 this Saturday, April 14 at the Ericsson Globe Arena in Stockholm, Sweden. This marks the UFC's first time in Sweden and the pressure is on Gustafsson to impress in front of his countrymen.
Luke Thomas and the crew at Fight Metric have taken a look at the fights of both Gustafsson and Silva. They show that Silva has the edge standing:
Silva's got Gustafsson beat in the stand-up department:
- Silva blocks 65% of strikes thrown at him to Gustafsson's 48%. The numbers favor Silva in the other direction, too. Silva is accurate 52% of the time striking, while Gustafsson only finds the mark 40% of the time.
- Per minute, Gustafsson absorbs more strikes than Silva: 1.93 vs. 1.72.
- Silva is more effective at landing strikes despite having a 2.5 inch shorter reach than Gustafsson. Per minute, Silva lands 3.3 times to Gustafsson's 2.98.
The statistics say Gustafsson's best chance is on the ground:
A basic look at the numbers tell us the Swede has some slight advantages, but nothing he can majorly lean on. He's more aggressive with submissions (he averages 2.63 attempts over the course of a 15-minute fight compared to .89 for Silva) and is remarkably good at defending against takedowns: he's stopped 14 of 16 attempts and while a 88% defensive rate isn't MMA's best, it's on pace to be at or very near the top. UFC light heavyweight champion Jones has a perfect 100% takedown defense rate, but that's only against 12 attempts.
Video: Thiago Silva KO's Keith Jardine
But Silva's real achilles heel comes down to his limited ability to control position:
When Silva faced Machida, the former light heavyweight champion was able to control Silva's position for 2:27 of the 4:59 of fight time. In the Evans fight, it was 7:14 of 15 minutes. Between those two fights, Silva was held in a disadvantageous position for approximately 48.5% of the time.
In all of Silva's other UFC fights, he was positionally controlled for only 7.5% of the time. It should be noted that last figure is true of virtually every fighter, but what the data demonstrates is that it's significantly more difficult for Silva to win when he's placed and held in bad positions.
Gustafsson will have his work cut out for him to control Silva but its a far better strategy than trying to slug it out with the dangerous Brazilian knock out artist.