UFC title matchup projections: What does our model say about Edwards-Covington?

1 week ago 16
  • Reed Kuhn


    Reed Kuhn

    Special to ESPN.com

      Reed Kuhn is simply a Silicon Valley entrepreneur, and strategy and analytics consultant. He is the writer of "Fightnomics: The Hidden Numbers and Science successful Mixed Martial Arts," the archetypal publication to quantify drivers and show metrics successful combat sports.
  • Ian Parker

Nov 20, 2023, 07:00 AM ET

What bash the analytics accidental astir the title fights remaining connected the 2023 calendar? ​​Using predictive models agnostic of betting lines, we examined however each champion's matchup appears from a favorability view.

Essentially, is this a bully matchup for the champion oregon the challenger? The inputs see each fighter's show metrics wrong the Octagon and prime factors astir the combatant extracurricular the cage. The higher the score, the much favorable the incumbent champ matches.

These scores don't bespeak however to stake the combat versus the comparative favorability moving from the riskiest to the champion matchup.

Reed Kuhn and Ian Parker look up astatine 5 aboriginal rubric fights that are presently scheduled, on with a combat that's apt to get booked. Kuhn provides the exemplary projections for each fight, portion Parker details the betting perspective.

Confirmed UFC title bouts

Welterweight title: Leon Edwards (c) vs. Colby Covington, UFC 296 connected Dec. 16

Analysis: -0.06, somewhat unfavorable for the champion.

Kuhn connected what the numbers mean: An incumbent champ showing up little favorably could beryllium a combat nighttime 'dog, depending connected marketplace movements. With 2 wins implicit erstwhile champ Kamaru Usman, Edwards has doubly done thing Covington could not, contempt 2 tries himself. But Edwards volition look a sizeable measurement disadvantage, arsenic Covington typically outpaces him by much than 2-to-1 connected the feet. Add successful the challenger's wrestling credentials, and suddenly, the existent champion could look uphill rounds connected aggregate levels.

Parker connected wherever the bettors lean: Over 3.5 rounds. In Covington, Edwards volition person to fend disconnected the precocious gait and relentless wrestling helium puts forward, akin to Usman successful the 2nd fight. I spot bettors looking for this combat to spell into the aboriginal rounds. Covington is exceptionally durable, and Edwards could walk each 5 rounds defending takedowns portion trying to counter.

Flyweight title: Alexandre Pantoja (c) vs. Brandon Royval, UFC 296 connected Dec. 16

Analysis: +0.02, hardly favorable for the champion.

Kuhn connected what the numbers mean: This 1 is simply a spot surprising, particularly fixed that Pantoja already has a large triumph implicit Royval. But whenever Royval isn't facing champ-level talent, helium has been an elite finisher. In constricted minutes of action, Royval's knockdown complaint is supra mean and gives him a coagulated puncher's accidental erstwhile combined with Pantoja's historically escaped striking defense. I inactive spot an uphill conflict for Royval, but depending connected wherever prices land, determination mightiness beryllium immoderate worth successful an epic knockout upset. This matchup is the closest of each the existent booked and projected rubric fights.

Parker connected wherever the bettors lean: Pantoja to win. Both fighters combat astatine a suffocating gait and are unafraid to get into a brawl. Pantoja is sitting astatine -260, which makes sense, arsenic helium conscionable dethroned Brandon Moreno with his submission skills. Royval is simply a pugnacious hostile with bully powerfulness and submission skills arsenic well. However, helium sometimes gets reckless and has been caught and subbed before. If helium makes adjacent the slightest mistake against Pantoja, it's over.

Middleweight title: Sean Strickland (c) vs. Dricus du Plessis, UFC 297 connected Jan. 20, 2024

Analysis: -0.01, hardly unfavorable for the champion

Kuhn connected what the numbers mean: Strickland is simply a masterful constituent striker, but Du Plessis volition person the powerfulness advantage. The occupation is that Du Plessis has escaped defense, truthful portion he's looking to onshore a large shot, he'll beryllium eating plentifulness of punches and astir apt losing connected the cards. To debar that, Du Plessis could opt to usage his crushed game, which helium mightiness autumn backmost connected if helium gets frustrated connected the feet.

Parker connected wherever the bettors lean: Strickland to win. After seeing what Strickland did to the erstwhile champ, Israel Adesanya, it's hard not to thin his mode successful this matchup. Strickland has the amended boxing, and though helium doesn't usage it, helium besides has bully wrestling. But Strickland's champion limb is his cardio, which allows him to support a blistering gait passim a five-round fight. Du Plessis volition conflict to get Strickland down to the mat, and I don't deliberation helium tin onshore a powerfulness shot, akin to however helium knocked retired Robert Whitaker. I expect Strickland to person a repetition show successful his archetypal rubric defense.

Women's bantamweight title: Raquel Pennington vs. Mayra Bueno Silva, UFC 298 connected Feb. 17, 2024

Analysis: +0.07, mildly favorable for Pennington

Kuhn connected what the numbers mean: Both fighters are hesitant strikers, but Pennington has shown amended ratio successful outworking opponents. Add successful her clinch control, and she should get the borderline successful rounds that stay standing. Bueno Silva's submissions are her champion weapon, but lone erstwhile she tin get position. She doesn't effort galore takedowns, though she makes the astir of them erstwhile she does. Pennington indispensable trust connected her seasoned defence to enactment retired of trouble.

Parker connected wherever the bettors lean: Pennington to win. Bueno Silva has dense strikes but is hesitant and doesn't propulsion overmuch volume. On the different hand, Pennington usually starts dilatory arsenic she finds her range, but she pours it connected successful the aboriginal rounds. Pennington is the amended method boxer and has bully takedown defense. As agelong arsenic she doesn't get caught successful a submission, similar Holly Holm did against Bueno Silva, I spot her getting the upset and perchance a decorativeness successful the aboriginal rounds.

Men's bantamweight title: Alexander Volkanovski (c) vs. Ilia Topuria, UFC 298 connected Feb. 17, 2024

Analysis: +0.21, mildly favorable for the champion.

Kuhn connected what the numbers mean: Volkanovski is undoubtedly flirting with GOAT presumption astatine featherweight, having proved his striking against elite talent. While Topuria cemented his rubric changeable with a lopsided win, the prime of his opponents is obscurity adjacent what the champ has faced for the past fewer years. A caller look successful the rubric representation is welcome, but don't expect Topuria to spot astir the aforesaid occurrence helium had portion earning his rubric shot.

Parker connected wherever the bettors lean: Volkanovski by decision. Volkanovski is coming disconnected different nonaccomplishment to Islam Makhachev successful their rematch. He enactment connected a gritty show successful a combat galore thought helium won against the lightweight champion successful their archetypal bout, but this 1 wasn't close. Now helium moves backmost to featherweight and a matchup against a rising star. Topuria is simply a bully wrestler with method boxing and carries a ton of power. In his combat against Josh Emmett, Topuria showed each facet of his game, and helium looked flawless. However, the quality betwixt warring Emmett and Volkanovski is vast. Look for Volk to triumph by determination and the combat to spell the distance.

Men's featherweight title: Sean O'Malley (c) vs. Marlon Vera, UFC 299 connected Mar. 9, 2024

Analysis: -0.1, unfavorable for the champion

Kuhn connected what the numbers mean: O'Malley's precision successful powerfulness striking is disconnected the charts, arguably the champion successful the UFC close now. And helium tin pb the enactment with his range. However, Vera's knockdown complaint is overmuch higher, and helium has much acquisition successful title rounds. While O'Malley volition beryllium favored, Vera volition person a puncher's chance. With 19 knockdowns combined betwixt them, fireworks look to beryllium successful store with this rematch.

Parker connected wherever the bettors lean: O'Malley to win; implicit 3.5 rounds. Both fighters are dilatory starters, usually uncovering their bushed successful the second. Depending connected however large of a favourite O'Malley is, I'm leaning successful Suga Sean's direction. His scope and question volition beryllium the cardinal to triumph successful this matchup. And if you tin get positive odds, I would emotion to instrumentality this combat to spell implicit 3.5 rounds, perchance adjacent implicit 4.5 rounds.