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UFC 240: Max Holloway vs. Frankie Edgar alternative stats

A detailed breakdown of the position-by-position statistics to watch out for in Saturday’s UFC 240 fight card from Edmonton.

UFC 240 goes down this Saturday in Canada and I don’t know about you but I’m starting to get excited...once I tell myself I’m not really paying for the three opening main card matchups.

It should be a virtual impossibility for Holloway and Edgar to not entertain in the featherweight title main event and, hey, Cyborg’s got to be highly motivated to dish out pain in the co-main, right?

Since only two of the 12 scheduled bouts are eligible for computer predictions and there likely won’t be any bets, win probabilities are included at the end for each matchup and there won’t be a separate piece on Saturday.

Remember, what you’re about to read are not official UFC statistics. They’re alternative stats generated from official statistics designed to (1) give more weight to the recent present than the distant past and (2) not let one huge or horrible performance dominate the data.

See the notes at the bottom for definitions of certain statistics and check out an earlier piece for an explanation of how this works.

Max Holloway vs. Frankie Edgar

On a PPV card where only two matchups meet the minimum documented bout threshold, the main event is a refreshing pairing of 24 documented fights in the bank (Edgar) versus 20 (Holloway). And each fighter has a nice mixture of KO/TKO, submission, and decision finishes to keep us on our toes.

With 4:00 and 3:42 of every round spent at distance, respectively, Holloway and Edgar certainly don’t mind throwing down in open space, but it’s Holloway who rarely tries to change the position of the fight with only two takedown shots in over 200 distance minutes (i.e., two takedown shot attempts in over 13 three-round fights fought exclusively at distance) and four attempts in 31 clinch minutes.

When operating at distance, Holloway more than doubles Edgar’s head jab output and connects at a 35% clip to Edgar’s 20%. In the power department, Holloway throws 61% more volume while landing 49% to Edgar’s 37%. Edgar mixes things up to the body and legs a little better while Holloway targets the body well but rarely goes to the legs, reminiscent of the Jose Aldo playbook to take Edgar out back at UFC 200.

In net, Holloway tends to out-land opponents at distance with +6.0 head jab and +10.8 power shot differentials per five minutes in the position (P5M) while Edgar goes -1.9 and +5.7. When it comes to blood and knockdowns, both fighters tend to bust up a face in 10% of their rounds, and while they’re both below average in all knockdown metrics, Holloway drops opponents to the canvas in more than twice as many rounds as Edgar (7.1% to 3.2%) while Edgar’s knockdown percentage per standing power head strike landed is 50% better than Holloway (0.6% to 0.4%).

While Holloway rarely attempts takedowns, Edgar shoots from distance at almost twice the average featherweight rate, but he hasn’t finished terribly well, completing only 15% while Holloway’s defense comes in at an excellent 93%. But if they clinch up, Edgar tends to have cage control 63% of the time and once again goes for takedowns at almost double the average rate. In the clinch world, though, Edgar completes a solid 51% of his attempts and Holloway’s defense is a bit worse at 82% defended.

If Edgar’s clinch takedown attempts don’t work, watch out for some damage from Holloway. He spends only 11% of his clinch time with control and 54% being controlled with his back to the cage, yet he still finds a way to out-land his opponents with a +9.5 clinch power strike differential P5M while Edgar’s is basically even (-0.4). And these aren’t little pitter-patter shots; they can often be knees or hard elbows.

Holloway’s clinch takedown attempts are rare, but he’s gone 4-for-4 in the past and Edgar’s defense has been a subpar 51%. What hasn’t been remotely subpar is Edgar’s ability to sweep or get back up.

If it goes to the ground, look for Holloway to try to scramble or submit and Edgar to try to control, ground-and-pound, and maybe submit. Edgar spends about one minute of every round on the ground (97% on top) and keeps his opponents from standing back up 24% better than average. He lands 84% more power bombs P5M than average. He attempts submissions at close to an average rate and has completed 20%. Meanwhile, Holloway hasn’t been submitted since 20 fights ago in his UFC debut Poirier matchup.

What Holloway does really well on bottom is get the hell out of there. He’s never swept, but he stands back up 7.5 times P5M being controlled, 200% better than average.

Will Saturday night be Holloway’s version of Aldo-Edgar? Or will Edgar be able to do damage on his feet or work to the clinch to grind and get takedowns? Can’t wait to find out.

The fight computer has Holloway with a 62.4% probability to retain his featherweight title.

Cris Cyborg vs. Felicia Spencer is not eligible for prediction in the co-main event as Spencer only has one prior documented fight.

Deiveson Figueiredo (51.8%) over Alexandre Pantoja

Statistical Notes: A bout closeness measure towards zero means a fighter tends to be in blowouts (win or lose) and towards 100 means they tend to be in very close fights. Strike attempts are per an entire five minute round in each position (P5M) and are categorized as jab or power. A jab is just a non-power strike. Strikes are documented based on where they land or are targeted (head, body, legs), not the type that is thrown (punch, elbow, kick, knee). Visible damage rate is per five minutes the fighter is not on his back. It’s hard to bust up someone’s face while lying on your back. Damage percentage is per power head strike and distance head jab landed. Knockdown rate is per five minutes at distance or in the clinch off the cage. Knockdown percentage is per power head strike landed while standing. It’s really hard to knock someone down if they’re already on the ground. Knockdown/Damage round percentage is the percentage of rounds with at least one knockdown or busted up face, respectively. Clinch control is having the opponent pressed against the cage. Ground control is having top position or the opponent’s back. Submission attempts are per five minutes of ground control minus time spent in the opponent’s guard plus time spent with the opponent in guard.

Paul writes about MMA analytics and officiating at Bloody Elbow and MMA business at Forbes. He’s also an ABC-certified referee and judge. Follow him @MMAanalytics. Fight data provided by FightMetric.

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