The next big UFC pay-per-view event will be coming up in a few weeks, on Saturday, November 16 from the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada. The main event features a much anticipated welterweight title defense by the ever-popular Georges St Pierre as he faces once of his toughest challenges to date in Johnny Hendricks. In addition to the great main event, this card features two of the top light heavyweights in the world squaring off in Chael Sonnen and Rashad Evans. The odds are already out for the main and co-main events, so we are here to bring you our picks for what should be a great couple fights.
Georges St Pierre vs Johny Hendricks
As mentioned, the main event will feature Georges St Pierre (1.47) facing off against Johny Hendricks (2.86) for the UFC Welterweight championship. Many people believe that Hendricks will have his hand raised at UFC 167 when all is said and done. We are not so sure! Our model says this fight will be close; St Pierre is a slight favourite, but definitely not enough so to justify a bet on him. St Pierre has relatively few weaknesses in his MMA game. He does a solid job of maintaining control on the feet, keeping his opponents at bay with stiff jabs as well as the constant threat of a takedown. He is one of the best (if not the best) grapplers in the UFC and utilizes his grappling skills to wrestle his opponents to the ground and dish punishment. On top of these other skills, he has great defensive jiu jitsu and it is hard to remember a time when he was in danger of being submitted on the ground. His opponent, Johny Hendricks is a former NCAA divison 1 wrestler who has the dual threat of the takedown and knockout power. Hendricks has been able to confuse many of his opponents because he is able to load his hips like he is going for a wrestling shot and instead come over the top with his big left hand rendering them unconscious. Incredibly, half of his UFC victories have come by way of TKO, most were follow up strikes from the aformentioned left hand.
One thing to note is that Hendricks only defeated Mike Pierce and Josh Koscheck via split decision and St Pierre handily disposed of Koscheck landing 110 significant strikes to Koscheck’s 16. A look at the stats for both fighters makes it obvious why St Pierre is the more likely victor. Hendricks lands a lot of strikes at 3.09 per minute. The issue is that he also absorbs 3.04. St Pierre dishes out 3.75 and only absorbs 1.23. Hendricks has landed more takedowns in the fights recorded statistically at 5.52 to St Pierre’s 4.38, but the thing to remember with Hendricks is he has been working his way through the ranks while St Pierre has been continually fighting the UFC’s best welterweights. St Pierre also lands 76% of his takedowns while Hendricks lands just 50%. In addition, St Pierre defends 86% of takedowns against while Hendricks defends just 63%. We see Hendricks attempting and failing to get St Pierre down and St Pierre taking down Hendricks and maintaining top control for an easy decision victory. A straight money line bet on St Pierre isn’t worthwhile at this point at the current line of 1.47 to 1. There is more value in the St Pierre decision line, but it still only sits at 1.69 to 1 and we will hold off on any bet for now.
Prediction: St Pierre via decision
Sonnen vs Evans
In the co-main event, perennial light heavyweight contenders, Rashad Evans(1.63)(#4) and Chael Sonnen(2.65)(#8) will go to war. Sonnen comes into this fight off an impressive submission victory over Mauricio Rua which was a follow up to two straight defeats where he competed with Jon Jones and Anderson Silva for their respective (at the time) titles. Evans comes into the fight off a split decision victory over Dan Henderson which, like Sonnen, was a follow up to 2 prior losses to champ Jon Jones and Antonio Rogerio Nogueira. Both fighters will be looking to show they belong in the division’s top 5 and a dominant performance would show just that. Our model slightly favours Sonnen to take the victory. Realistically, the level of competition faced by each is relatively equal, so we put a lot of weight into the stats when comparing these two. Sonnen literally has advantages in all areas of the MMA game as you can see by the fightmetric stats (Rashad Evans Chael Sonnen). Importantly, Sonnen only absorbs 0.94 significant strikes per minute while Evans absorbs 2.21. In addition, as this will likely turn into a grappling battle at some point, Sonnen lands 60% of his takedowns while Evans lands just 48%. We see Sonnen taking down Evans repeateadly and maintaining the top position to take a decision victory.
Prediction: Sonnen via decision
Bet: 3 units on Sonnen at 2.6 to 1