UFC 194 Statistical Analysis – Jose Aldo vs Conor McGregor

And here is the fight that we have been waiting so long to see. Can the ‘Notorious’ hype train bowl over the supreme ‘Scarface’?

I take a look at all of the recorded fight statistics for both combatants to try and sift out reality from the hype. I look at the combined career records of their opponents before delving into their official FightMetric statistics to help determine what each fighter brings to the table. I then make foolish assumptions about who is going to win.

The first article I wrote on UFC 194 – Weidman vs Rockhold – can be found here.

The results of my UFC 193 prognostications can be found here.

But really, isn’t the journey to the augury more fun than the accuracy of the predictions? I’ll just keep telling myself that and move along…

 

Background

Jose Aldo has had a long and thoroughly successful MMA career. His last defeat was against Rio Di Janeiro cop, Luciano Azevedo in 2005, and he hasn’t looked back since – racking up an impressive record of 25 wins to balance against that sole defeat.

His utilisation of canny kickboxing, and underrated wrestling ability, have propelled him through the greatest fighters in his weight class since dethroning Mike Thomas Brown for the WEC title in 2009. That amounts to 10 straight title fights in both the WEC and the UFC. You can’t achieve that without doing a few things right.

Is the plucky Conor McGregor the one to finally knock Aldo off his perch? Before his emphatic victory over Chad Mendes at UFC 189 I would have scoffed and said no way. Jose Aldo has destroyed a whos who at 145 pounds, including the perennial featherweight number two, Mendes. Twice.

Even stealing Dustin Poirier’s spot at number five in the division, after his first round victory at UFC 178, didn’t convince me. The cynic in me just couldn’t credit the loud mouthed Irishman as being a legitimate threat. I enjoyed the spotlight he attracted to the sport, but I was well aware that while he was a great striker, a seasoned, well rounded wrestler like Mendes would destroy him.

Yeah. Turns out I was wrong. Not only did he defeat Mendes, he did it with a heavily damaged ACL.

And so enters one of the most heavily anticipated striker vs striker matchups since Anderson Silva vs Vitor Belfort, or when Junior Dos Santos started badmouthing Alistair Overeem.

 

Career records

Jose Aldo Conor McGregor
Wins 25 18
KO/TKO 14 16
Submission 2 1
Decision 9 1
Losses 1 2
Submission 1 2

 

Both fighters have similar exemplary records at first glance, with more than 50% of their victories coming via KO/TKO, and with the only losses coming via submission. The only key difference is the finish rate between the fighters – 64% for Aldo, and an amazing 94% for McGregor. In fact, only one fight has ever gone the distance in McGregor’s career – his UFC Fight Night 26 decision win over the talented Max Holloway.

Can this difference be explained by the quality of their respective opponents? If McGregor has only fought fighters with a relatively low win percentage that would certainly account for a higher finish rate.

I went through the fight record of both fighters and all of their respective opponents on Sherdog to gain an understanding of the quality of their career opponents. Below is a table describing the combined win/loss records of each of their opponents before the night of the fight.

Jose Aldo Conor McGregor
Overall Win % 81% 75%
Average fights 12.1 10.45
Major** Win % 71% 71%
Average fights 4.7 3.05

 

As the table demonstrates, Aldo’s opponents have a noticeable advantage in both fight experience and win percentage, but not by enough to dismiss McGregor’s finishing rate. The stats don’t lie – the man goes into a fight trying to finish at all costs, and is pretty good at it too.

The discrepancy in opponent fight experience relates much more to both fighters experience since joining the WEC & UFC, specifically Aldo who has had 10 consecutive successful title defences.

 

Fight Statistics

Now that we have taken a look at the careers of both fighters, it is time to take a look at their fight stats in order to determine firstly what their game plans will be and then try and guess who will come out on top.

The very first thing I noticed when comparing the statistics for both fighters was the extreme ends of the spectrum they occupied in terms of average fight length. Aldo currently holds the record for longest average fight time at 21 minutes per fight. This goes for all weight classes and all fighters in the UFC with more than five fights. Ever.

By contrast Conor McGregor currently holds the all-time featherweight record for shortest average fight length, at 6:28. Given his 94% finish rate this should come as less of a surprise, but it is rare to see such a direct contrast. Especially for two fighters known for their explosive finishes.

The explanation for these contrasting records can be found further in their fight statistics.

Jose Aldo Conor McGregor
Attack
Sig Accuracy % 44% 44%
Sig of Total % 88% 87%
KDs 8 5
KDs per fight 0.6 0.8
Standing % 80% 75%
SLPM 3.29 5.44

 

While both fighters have exactly the same significant strike accuracy percentages and proportionately the same number of significant strikes to total, McGregor lands substantially more blows, as evidenced by the high Strikes Landed Per Minute score.  In fact no one in division history has landed more significant strikes per minute than McGregor.

One way of measuring the effectiveness of those strikes can be measured in terms of measured Knock Downs. While Aldo has a higher score of eight (3 in UFC competition, placing him 7th on the list), the fact these have come from thirteen fights means he scores .6 knockdowns a fight, lower than McGregor’s .8 from six fights, which actually places him equal third in the division for knockdowns.

With an accuracy of 44.2%, his power, accuracy and volume present significant challenges to anyone in the division.

Does this focus on volume, power and accuracy leave McGregor more open in defence?

Jose Aldo Conor McGregor
Defence
Sig Accuracy 72% 64%
% Sig of Total 87% 95%
KDs 0 0
SAPM 1.94 3.01

 

The defensive statistics indicate that it his high intensity style does leave him more open to counters than Aldo’s more measured approach. I have always been a firm believer that while offense is obviously key to being a good striker, the truly great ones shine in defence. Aldo’s UFC competition record (mine includes his whole WEC run as well), places him first all time in the featherweight division and 10th overall.

While not as stellar as Aldo’s, McGregor’s record of 64% is outstanding, the downside to his mental warfare can be evidenced in the overwhelming percentage of significant strikes to total, and the number of Strikes Absorbed Per Minute. Even defending 64% of the shots thrown at him, the stats show that his opponents are almost exclusively trying to relieve him of consciousness every second of the fight. A very dangerous game to play.

So what happens when the fight hits the mat? While both fighters are well credentialed exponents of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (Aldo with a black belt under  André Pederneiras, McGregor a brown under  John Kavanagh) neither of them hold any submission victories under the WEC or UFC banners.

In fact, neither man often chooses to spend much time on the ground, preferring to keep to their strengths on the feet. In saying that though, both fighters cleverly use takedowns to both create space and uncertainty in stand-up fighting and also to utilise ground and pound.

Jose Aldo Conor McGregor
Grappling Attack
TD 13 5
TD Attempts 18 6
TD% 72% 83%
Sub Attempts 3 0
Guard Pass 18 8
Reversal 0 0
% Ground 18% 19%

 

Almost 20% of the total offensive striking output for both fighters occurs on the ground, and with takedown accuracy percentages around 75% they have both shown a willingness and ability to fight on the mat.

Where the differences really show themselves is upon analysis of their defensive statistics.

Jose Aldo Conor McGregor
Grappling Defence
TD 7 4
TD Attempts 80 12
TD% 91% 67%
Sub Attempts 0 1
Guard Pass 1 2
Reversal 0 0

 

Here Aldo shows off the fruits of both his BJJ black belt and underrated wrestling ability. His 91% takedown defence rate is good enough for 2nd in the featherweight division. While the record is impressive on its own, when you consider that of the eighty times a takedown has been attempted he has yielded only seven times, the record gains significance. Especially given that as a title holder he was condemned to face the very finest fighters in the division.

Notably, no one has ever been in a position to even attempt a submission and only one fighter, Mark Hominic (in the fight which taught me what the word haematoma meant) has ever passed his guard.

While both fighters are relatively hard to take down and submit, Aldo holds a massive advantage in this space.

Summary

Both fighters are elite level strikers with varying approaches – almost a case of the irresistible force of McGregor meeting the immovable object of Aldo, cancelling each other out.

McGregor throws heavy, accurate punches in significant volume which often lead to knockouts, but he has never faced anyone with the defensive striking acumen of Aldo. He also has only ever been to the judges once, and so lacks the innate gas tank awareness of Aldo. Still, having never fought without the benefit of post weigh in IV, will Aldo be able to maintain his pace over five rounds? The cardio question cannot be answered one way or another until the fight.

I see the fight ending in one of a number of ways, if Aldo doesn’t get his diet right then expect a late round KO for McGregor. Or, McGregor wins by slipping in a punch on the buzzer at some point.

However, I believe that Aldo will have worked out his nutrition for the fight and we may actually see him fitter than ever before. His defence and constant leg kick barrage will frustrate McGregor into over-extending himself in the striking, enabling easy takedowns for the defending champ who will use his wrestling and ground and pound to carry the day.

Verdict – Jose Aldo by decision.

 

References

Jose Aldo Sherdog fight record

Jose Aldo FightMetric fighter profile

Jose Aldo Official UFC fighter page

Conor McGregor Sherdog fight record

Conor McGregor FightMetric fighter profile

Conor McGregor Official UFC fighter page

FightMetric Statistical Top Tens

 

 

** Major fights are defined (arbitrarily) as being against either a top notch competitor or in a top notch organisation as listed –

WSOF

World Extreme CageFighting

M1

UFC

Bodog

IFL

Elite XC/Pro Elite/Affliction

Bellator

WEC

Strikeforce

Pride

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Published by

James

Easing into my mid 30's, writing just crept up on me. I had to put something out there - no matter what. So here we are! I live in Canberra, Australia and work in statistical IT systems development and support and am a proud father of two

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