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Data Scientist Previews 50/50 Fights

In last week’s Sunday UFC IcePack Analysis, we talked about how BCDC is 19-6 with over 14.2U on these 50/50 fights by our data scientist. This weekend’s fights are great to look at from a data perspective since both matchups are toss up fights and have exciting, well-known fighters.

Robbie Lawler vs. Bryan Barberena

In the first matchup, we have Robbie Lawler vs Bryan Barberena in a preliminary fight card spot. Ironically, Bryan Barberena is not a stranger to our toss up fights. Barberena beat Matt Brown by a razor thin margin earlier this year. (UFC Fight Preview) Robbie Lawler has been in the fight game for a while, and it seems like he may be drawing near the end here soon.

This fight is so evenly matched, so let’s start off with the projections of the fight to ease ourselves into this review. Our projections have this fight as a striking fight that will go the distance. In Robbie’s career as a striker, he imposes his will about 56.52% of the time across his 23 career fights. Imposing his will means he is making the fight a striking fight and then dominating as that’s his strength. Bryan, on the other hand, imposes his will about 57.14% of the time across 14 fights. 8 of these fights were striking fights that he has won.

Looking at their competition as of late, it is clear that Robbie has fought the tougher opponents (RDA, Askren, Covington, and Magny). However, his last fight was against a rusty Nick Diaz who did not look ready for the matchup. Robbie was better and got the win pretty easily. However, Bryan Barberena has stayed active and won some tough fights in the past 6 months with victories against Darian Weeks and Matt Brown.

Robbie Lawler is 12-6 against fighters with 164 or less for Sig. Str. Per KnockDown. Robbie likes fighters who have power and usually wins.

Above is Robbie Lawler’s control chart of Strikes per Knockdown in his UFC career. BCDC shows, as time has gone, Robbie has less power. Robbie might not be the same fighter anymore.

The other big attributes in this fight are their wins at similar odds. Barberena has won 1 fight at similar odds of 100 (Range 110 to -110). Lawler has won 1 out of 2 fights at similar odds of -120 (Range -110 to -130).

This fight will go to a decision, and Barberena will win this fight because both fighters average a ton of time in the octagon. In their last 3 fights, Robbie has gone for 17 minutes, and Bryan has gone for 15 minutes. Barberena has slightly more volume per minute with 5.65 strikes landed per minute, whereas Robbie has 4.068 strikes landed per minute. The fighter with the higher volume of strikes wins 56% of the time in a sample size of over 5,000 fights. In this case, I am going with Bryan Barberena due to this key statistic. I always suggest following the data as much as possible. Right now, I have the data to follow and provided enough evidence to show Bryan will win by using the model projection information, age, and samples of data.

Sean Strickland vs Alex Pereira

We know the deal, right? Do not stand with this Pereira unless your name is Israel Adesanya! I repeat to Sean Strickland: do not stand with this dude!

Showing the fighters win and loss record in the UFC with the pre fight odds.

In this fight, our models project this fight to go the distance. This is great news for Sean Strickland! However, this fight is projected to be a standup fight due to Sean’s history in the UFC and, of course, the other fighter in this tango. Sean is 12-3 in the UFC and has a ton of fight experience. He is a dangerous volume fighter. Sean displayed his wrestling in his bout against Uriah Hall and will need to have successful takedowns to win this fight. The projections have this fight right, and it will depend on Sean to dictate where the fight goes on Saturday.

Using Bayesian Simulation and not machine learning models, BCDC is 53% sure that Alex Pereira is the better fighter with a risk of being wrong at 20%. With odds at -110, this is a slight edge unless the bookies increase the price.

However, despite the simulation model, I still feel intrigued by Sean Strickland. There are a few reasons I feel this way….

Sean Strickland is 8-1 against fighters with 119 or less for Sig. Str. Per KnockDown. He is 4-1 against fighters with 10 or more for Sig. Str. Attempts 1 min.

These stats show Sean can handle the power displayed by Pereira in the UFC. Sean has all the tools to keep this fight at bay and squeak out a decision win against Alex. He controlled the fight against a grappler (Jack Hermanson) and displayed grappling against a UFC veteran (Uriah Hall) in his last two fights. Sean Strickland is showing promise that he can fight for the Middleweight title. A victory this weekend will put him next in line. I am rolling with the key stats and model projections and anticipate the fight going the distance with Sean Strickland winning this fight and letting Israel Adesanya get a new opponent for the crown.

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