Another last minute main event cancellation left UFC 215 feeling lackluster. In the new main event, women’s bantamweight champion successfully defended her title over Valentina Shevchenko via dubious decision. The following is a by-the-numbers recap that highlights the stats and milestones that stood out on the main card, with stats courtesy of FightMetric.com.
Amanda Nunes edged Valentina Shevchenko on the scorecards
There was immediate consternation after Bruce Buffer announced the decision, which handed Nunes her second defense of the UFC women’s bantamweight title. While there is a very compelling case that Shevchenko deserved the nod, that argument is not really backed up by the stat sheet. Nunes outlanded Shevchenko 86 to 72 on significant strikes and landed more punches in four out of the five rounds. However, the striking totals were not very informative for this fight.
Nunes landed 56 of her 86 significant strikes, 65 percent, to Shevchenko’s legs. Some of these were legitimate leg kicks, but the majority were simply range finding kicks. In terms of head strikes, Shevchenko outlanded Nunes 30 to 16. Plus, she seemed to land the better strikes throughout the fight, regardless of target. Striking stats can often properly summarize a fight, but simply counting strikes does not always tell the entire story.
Nunes finished with 89 DraftKings points. In addition to her strikes and the 30-point decision win bonus, she also picked up points for a pair of takedowns and passes.
Rafael dos Anjos easily submitted Neil Magny
It is easy to forget that Dos Anjos is a plus submission grappler with all his impressive striking performances. However, he made quick work of Magny on the ground. The former lightweight champion absorbed only one significant strikes on the way to finishing via submission in the first round. Magny has now been submitted twice in the UFC without landing more than one significant strike. Against Demian Maia, he fell without landing any significant strikes.
Thanks mostly to the first-round finish bonus, Dos Anjos put up 105.5 points on DraftKings. He also landed 13 significant strikes and three passes on the ground.
Henry Cejudo showed improvement as a striker against Wilson Reis
Cejudo looked about as good as a fighter can look against Reis. He landed 34 significant strikes while absorbing only five, and he scored his first knockout victory in the UFC. The Olympic gold medalist wrestler has clearly made strides with his striking. However, excitement about this fight should be tempered a bit. Reis is a high level flyweight, but Cejudo is a terrible stylistic match for him. The former Elite XC champion is not much of a striker. He has landed only 1.96 significant strikes in the UFC and 23 percent of his significant strikes came on the ground. Reis needs takedowns to be successful, and that was not an option against Cejudo.
Cejudo finished with 107 DraftKings points. Most of his points came via the second-round finish bonus, but he also landed 34 significant strikes, two takedowns and a knockdown.
Ilir Latifi took Tyson Pedro in deep water
Pedro took a big step up in competition and struggled. Per Fight Matrix, a software based ranking system, Latifi is clearly the best fighter that Pedro has faced in the UFC. Latifi’s peak ranking is #14 light heavyweight, while Paul Craig (#26) and Khalil Rountree (#68) are not on that level.
Latifi used his wrestling to control the pace and positioning of the fight. He landed four of his five attempts during the fight. In the first round, Pedro was able to use his athleticism to escape the ground. However, in the second two rounds, he was stuck on the bottom. Latifi landed 27 of his 44 significant strikes on the ground and absorbed only 31 from Pedro.
Thanks for four takedowns and four passes on the ground, Latifi finished with a respectable 84 DraftKings points. He clearly has power, so he is always an attractive choice in DFS, but he showed here that he can find other ways to score points for players.
Jeremy Stephens attempted to saw off Gilbert Melendez’s leg for three rounds
Obviously the story of this fight was the low kicks. Stephens landed 32 strikes to Melendez’s legs. In the first round, Melendez’s was clearly injured from the kicks, but he stayed in the fight and took a ton of punishment. The former Strikeforce champion ended up only landing 29 significant strikes, which means he absorbed more strikes to his legs alone than he landed.
Stephens only missed three of his 35 attempted significant strikes to the leg. On the broadcast, Joe Rogan and Daniel Cormier went on a tangent about how, in their estimation, some of the legs kicks were “checked” and therefore did not land. Per Wikipedia, checking is, “where the leg is bent and brought up to protect the thigh. This causes the kicker to slam their shin into the defending fighters' shin or knee, causing pain and damage to the offender.” Nowhere in the definition does it say that a checked kick does not land. Stephens was obviously targeting the lower leg and not the thigh. Plus, several of the “checked” leg kicks clearly damaged Melendez and some even resulted in knockdowns. It would be fair to say that the criticism of Rogan and Cormier missed the mark.
Stephens finished with the highest DraftKings point total of the night, 131, despite not scoring the finish. He earned 50 points via five knockdowns and also landed 96 significant strikes.