Team Alpha male has a big Saturday night with UFC on Fox 9. Four of their fighters will compete at the event: Joseph Benavidez will challenge Flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson for the title, former WEC champ Urijah Faber will be taking on Michael McDonald in a Bantamweight tilt, Chad Mendes takes on Nik Lentz at Featherweight, and Danny Castillo fights Edson Barboza in a Lightweight bout.
The event marks almost a full year since Team Alpha Male signed their new coach: former UFC Welterweight Duane Ludwig. "Bang" has received a lot of praise over the last year because his team has enjoyed a lot of success at the highest level of competition.
Alongside that success has come questions regarding exactly what Ludwig's impact has been. A newer voice in MMA commentary, Fightnomics Reed stepped up to analyze the data. He tracked five fighters from Team Alpha Male, including all four competing Saturday, as well as TUF 14 veteran T.J. Dillashaw. Because of the use of a smaller cage in the now defunct WEC, he focused solely on the performance of these fighter inside the UFC Octagon.
Prior to Ludwig's presence, the five Alpha Male fighters went 15-7. In the last year since Bang's induction, they've gone an impressive 12-1, with the only loss being Dillashaw's close-fought split decision loss against Raphael Assuncao at UFC Fight Night 29. The W/L record is only a small part of the story, however, so MMA's rising voice in statistics Fightnomics Reed stepped up to analyze the data.
Reed looked at several aspects of the fight game to understand just how the Team Alpha Male fighters have adjusted since bringing Ludwig on board. Take a look at the breakdown he provided for Cage Potato below:
As you can see, there was significant improvement in the last year in almost every category. The only area you see a drop is takedown attempts per round, which can be explained by takedowns being less necessary for a more competent striker. On top of seeing improved striking stats in multiple areas, we see significant improvement in the effectiveness of takedowns for the team as well. If there were any doubt of Ludwig's influence prior to Reed's analysis, these numbers should subdue that criticism.
Watch UFC on Fox 9 on December 14 to see how the Alpha Male fighters fare. You can follow both the Facebook and FS1 prelims starting at 4:30 ET (1:30 PT) and 5 ET/2 PT respectively. Castillo will appear on that broadcast while Mendes, Faber, and Benavidez will be showcased on the Fox main card starting at 8p ET/5p PT.
Reed breaks down the top fights for every UFC event and you can follow him on twitter at @Fightnomics. His book Fightnomics: The Hidden Numbers in Mixed Martial Arts and Why There's No Such Thing as a Fair Fight is already available on Kindle with a print edition coming soon. Bloody Elbow will provide a review of the book in the next couple weeks.