UFC Fight Night: Mark Munoz vs. Gegard Mousasi preview and prognostication

Photo by UFC.com

The main event in Berlin, Germany pits Mark Munoz against the 'Dreamcatcher', Gegard Mousasi for a Middleweight bout that could have title shot implications in an increasingly muddled division.

Mark Munoz vs. Gegard Mousasi Middleweight

Finally, two fighters I recognize. So Mousasi is gonna gonna win right? Munoz gets trounced everytime he takes a step up in competition.

Mark Munoz is an interesting fighter. Despite his strong wrestling pedigree as an NCAA and FILA stalwart, none of it has every really translated well. Fight Metric has his takedown accuracy listed at 27%, which is low even when you account for all the variables: strength of competition, time spent in the cage, etc. The interesting thing is that he seems more at home scrambling, and engaging in grappling exchanges than he does fighting through sprawls.

His last two losses were to some incredible fighters: the current MW champ, and the current MW title contender. But sometimes just as a good fighter beating a mediocre fighter can still illuminate one's qualities, losing to a great fighter can still illuminate one's flaws. Munoz offered zero offense in some cases. Literally, against Lyoto Machida, where he went 0-3 to become only the 5th fighter to do so in a main event.

A lot of this speaks to Mark's inabilities against superior competition: that maybe, in addition to be a solid fighter who just isn't good enough to be elite, he's just gunshy and truly competes too hard with himself instead of simply relying on instinct.

Yea but didn't Gegard Mousasi not beat Keith Jardine? These seem like evenly matched opponents in the 'can't beat the elite' category.

Fair enough. Mousasi has never delivered on the promise he showed in DREAM, and I'd go so far as to not pick him to beat his biggest win to date, in Ronaldo Souza.

But the guy is a rare talent in many ways, and the draw against Jardine didn't tell us that Jardine could compete against Mousasi. It simply told us that Jardine could survive Mousasi.

Both fighters are good examples of how success can elude the superior. Just look at the Cup Finals appearing New York Rangers. Does anyone really believe they're a better team than the Boston Bruins? Some, perhaps, but the numbers don't bear that out. The Bruins were a better possession team by any quantifiable measure, and yet here the Rangers are...waiting the winner of LA vs. Chicago.

We're adrift here. Munoz is +255 in some places. Seems like a good bet against the dude who couldn't beat Keith Jardine (I know you articulated why that fight doesn't matter but I wasn't listening; wins and losses are the only numbers that count).

Here are some more numbers:

2.14

3.50

50 vs. 58%

27%

The first number is the number of strikes Munoz typically absorbs in a fight. The second number is the amount of strikes landed per minute by Mousasi, and the two percentages are Mousasi's striking accuracy versus Munoz' striking defense, respectively. The 4th number is Mark's takedown accuracy.

There are always stories behind those numbers, so it's not enough to analyze the fight like an accountant. For one, Munoz' striking numbers are inflated due to the punches he lands on the ground, where his accuracy rate is 44.9%, which is good for third all time. With his takedown accuracy being so low, don't expect him to have a puncher's chance.

Mousasi's striking accuracy will be a big deal against a fighter who has been knocked out cold three times. Mousasi, though possessing a nice variety of kicks, doesn't use as much as he used to, which is mostly where Munoz has been tombstoned. So perhaps there's something to be said for avoiding the knockout here.

Munoz has a good shot of winning this bout because he can turn this into a grindfest: for more stats, consider the fact that among active middleweights, he possesses the highest takedown attempt average at over 9 per 15 minutes. If Mousasi is having to defend the takedown all day, then it'll be hard for him to land his punch combinations.

In addition, Mousasi has power, but not necessarily the one hitter quitter type. So is Munoz a good bet? Absolutely. He's even admitted in public that he has zero intention of standing with Mousasi. When you consider that fighters are just not capable of finishing from their back these days, well then the stars appear to be aligning.

However, it's not just about numbers. Mousasi, for all of his talents on the ground, never seems able to really adjust to linear gameplans. Even Ovince St. Preux was able to threaten Mousasi on the ground. Munoz is not as slick as OSP, but I'd argue that he's similarly technical. Munoz won't pass guard, and score a RNC, but he should be able to get it to the ground enough times to grind out a decision in a bout that will be ugly and light on exchanges. I don't like betting against Mousasi because he's more than capable of finishing the bout, and if he keeps winning he's one of the more interesting potential challengers in the division, but I just think Munoz has the ability to survive Mousasi. As we've seen before, sometimes that's all it takes.

Mark Munoz by Decision.

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