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MMA by the Numbers: Vitor Belfort vs Anthony Johnson at UFC 142

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Below we’ve measured each fighter’s performance in major fights over the last 5 years and each fighter’s probability of winning this match up based on (uber nerdy) statistical analysis.

After the stats, I’ll talk about any wagers I’ll be making.

[Ed. Note: Make sure to check out all of Mike the Geek's other MMA analysis over at Breakdown Fights]

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Betting Strategy:

Pick to win: Vitor Belfort

This is a very interesting match up.

The slight advantage in striking goes to Belfort. Both fighters have landed a similar number of strikes and are equally heavy-handed. Belfort has scored 15.0 knockdowns + knockouts per hour and Rumble Johnson 12.7 (those are BIG numbers). But Belfort gets the slight advantage for doing a much better job limiting the % of strikes landed by opponents (19% for Belfort versus 30% for Johnson).

The slight advantage in grappling goes to Johnson for being more effective and efficient taking opponents down.

Other factors: Belfort has faced a bit more difficult level of competition (advantage Belfort). Johnson will have a 4″ reach advantage (which is significant, advantage Johnson). Belfort is a southpaw and Johnson orthodox (advantage Belfort). And Johnson is stepping up to middleweight from welterweight (advantage unknown).

Putting it all together, the math gives Belfort a small edge to win (55%).

. . . . .

Pick to bet: possibly Belfort

The numbers are close on this one and that’s reflected in the odds. The current moneyline on Belfort is -121 (= 55% chance of winning, $100 pays $83).

Belfort’s chances of winning this fight are almost “baked in” to the odds. I’ll continue to watch where the odds go from here, and I’ll wager on Belfort at -120 or better.

. . . . .

Understanding the Stats:

Data only includes fights from the last 5 years with stats in the Fight Metric database. That means fights in smaller organizations are ignored.

Results are color-coded by how the fighter compares to all other fighters in the database: the darker the green the better, the darker the red the worse. High numbers are good in the fighter’s column, low numbers are good in the fighter’s opponents column.

The “probability of win” (top of stats) is based on analysis of the stats that matter the most in determining who wins fights, and is the most important thing I look at when deciding how to wager on a fight (read more).

The “level of competition” (bottom of stats) captures how difficult the fighter’s opponents have been by showing the total 5-year W/L record of opponents at the time they fought. It’s easy to rack up sexy stats when you fight goofs (and vice-versa) so stats should be viewed with the level of competition in mind (read more).

Click to read more FAQs about understanding these stats.

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Get more great MMA news, recaps and analysis over at Breakdown Fights.