Abu Dhabi’s Yas Island, aka Fight Island, is set to host three back-to-back title fights and a loaded card on July 11. While MMA math rarely rings true, in this week’s deep dive we take a look into some of the more interesting stats and figures relating to the promotion’s trip overseas!
Stat #1: Max Holloway – Significant Strikes Landed – 2071
Max Holloway (21-5) is head and shoulders above anyone else who’s competed with the promotion long-term concerning significant strikes landed. His total dwarfs the second place holder, Joanna Jedrzejczyk (1711) and features as a testament to his pressure heavy style that saw the former three-time defending featherweight champ.
“Blessed” also comes in third place all-time in terms of total strikes landed, nine fewer than second-place Nate Diaz and 344 less than the Hall-of-Famer to be Georges St-Pierre.
Though counters and combos along with constant volume lead Holloway to gold in 2016, his rematch with Alexander Volkanovski (21-1) will once again test his tried and true method of victory. In their first meeting, Volkanovski was able to extend his 18-fight win streak by cutting off the cage and unleashing a powerful attack, ultimately beating Holloway at his own game.
Currently Volkanovski boasts a 2/1 favourite status ahead of the rematch, a major shift having closed as a +150 underdog at UFC 245 in December
? UFC featherweight champ @alexvolkanovski has made clear his goal for #UFC251 : He plans to be the first to knock out Max Holloway— Phil Murphy (@Phil_Sports) June 13, 2020
Volkanovski explains why it’s important to finish Holloway in their rematch
(full @espnmma interview posting next week) pic.twitter.com/SF8w9eq5Qs
Stat #2: Leonardo Santos – Undefeated Streak – 3,779 Days
Leonardo Santos (17-3-1) has put together one of the most impressive runs in MMA that you’ve quite possibly never heard of. Upon winning TUF Brazil Season 2 at welterweight (earning a win over Thiago Santos in the process), the Nova Uniao product has managed a 5-0-1 record in the UFC with wins over Efrain Escudero (U-DEC), Anthony Rocco Martin (SUB), Kevin Lee (TKO), Adriano Martins (S-DEC) and Stevie Ray (KO).
What’s even crazier is that Santos’ pro debut was at 155 lbs in Shooto against Takanori Gomi in 2002 when Gomi was already 10-0 and a budding superstar. The main reason why his superb undefeated streak that spans over ten years is based on inactivity, having fought just seven times over the past seven years including an almost three year period of inactivity between 2016 and 2019.
Following his first-round knockout win over Stevie Ray last August, Santos is set to welcome the former M-1 Global lightweight champ Roman Bogatov (10-0) to the Octagon at UFC 251. In Bogatov’s last outing he was able to pressure UFC-vet Mickael Lebout to the brink, with Lebout quitting due to injury following the third round. (Odds: -190 Santos, +155 Bogatov)
Leonardo Santos (17-3-1) breaks a 2.5-year hiatus in style, starching former Cage Warriors champ Stevie Ray in round one! Unbeaten (11-0-1) since 2010, the 39-year-old owns 12 finishes, 10 in the opening frame. #UFCStockholm pic.twitter.com/rfJuYl0mov— Bulgogi Jones (@Hamderlei) June 1, 2019
Stat #3: Kamaru Usman – Bottom Position Time – 0:02
If you’re looking to wrestle with Kamaru Usman (16-1) and gain top position, think again as “The Nigerian Nightmare” owns the all-time top spot for lowest bottom position time at just two seconds (curtesy of a kimura sweep by Rafael dos Anjos). Usman’s run of excellence also boasts a perfect takedown defence line that spans his impressive 11-fight undefeated streak with the promotion.
Since defeating dos Anjos, Usman’s style has continued to evolve, with hand speed and striking output continuing to climb, landing 336/390 total strikes in his title challenge against Tyron Woodley and 175/360 in his lone defence of the belt in December against Colby Covington.
Usman’s next opponent Gilbert “Durinho” Burns (19-3) has looked like an absolute force since stabilizing his weight cuts and making the move to welterweight. With a steady rise in adversaries, from Alexey Kunchenko and Gunnar Nelson, to Demian Maia and Tyron Woodley, Burns has cut through the competition like a knife through hot butter.
Somewhat unsurprisingly, Usman sits as a -200 favourite with Burns his opposite at +170 on the money line. Understanding the line and what a moneyline bet means prior to wagering is essential, and it applies to all major sports, not just UFC. With two weeks to go before the fight, there is ample time for the line to move, and already we’ve seen a shift towards the champion since odds were made available.
Odd: Incoming Champs Debut as Dogs
It might come as a surprise, but all three incoming champions from rival promotions will make their debuts as underdogs on July 11. Zhalgas Zhumagulov (13-3) joins the promotion following his Fight Nights Global flyweight title defence over former UFC-vet and title challenger Ali Bagautinov last October. Zhumagulov will square up against Brazilian striking phenom Raulian Paiva (19-3), with the Kazakh coming in at a +155 status having opened as slight -105 underdog.
Roman Bogatov (10-0) will look to remain undefeated as he faces off with the aforementioned under-the-radar star Leonardo Santos (17-3-1). Bogatov boasts an impressive penchant for closing distance and pressuring the fight to the mat, which could work to his detriment against the 4th degree BJJ black belt Santos. Currently, the line favours Santos as an almost 2/1 favourite with a few bumps and blips having come since odds were posted.
Perhaps the most well-known and anticipated debut on the card is that of the former RIZIN light heavyweight champion Jiří “Denisa” Procházka (26-3-1), booked with the former 205 lbs UFC title challenger Volkan “No Time” Oezdemir (17-4). Procházka’s lone loss over the past seven years was a first round knockout to Muhammad “King Mo” Lawal in 2015, a loss that was avenged last spring with Procházka dismantling the ATT wrestling leader. With 23/26 total wins coming by knockout, and such names on the mantle as: Satoshi Ishii, Vadim Nemkov and Fabio Maldonado, Procházka’s +130 open is a far cry from his -960 close against C.B. Dolloway in his last outing at RIZIN 20 on New Year’s Eve.