By Jonathan Kirschner | @MMAKirschner
Renan Barao is the favorite at -300 (Bet $300 to win $100)
Urijah Faber is the underdog at +250 (Bet $100 to win $250)
Urijah Faber seems to have developed into a new fighter after his recent string of wins. The fans are not the only ones to back Faber in his THIRD shot at the company’s bantamweight title. Dana White has recently stated how impressed he has been with Faber’s bouts, comparing him to ‘The Phenom’ Vitor Belfort. Not only has Faber earned another shot at the belt but some actually think he has a chance to dethrone the king. Could all of this be part of the hype machine, though?
What exactly about this main-event is so appealing? Urijah Faber is a a man who has lost five championship bouts in a row, one of which was against Renan Barao. Barao dominated and outperformed Faber in their last fight. If you present those facts to a casual viewer, they may want to skip buying the event altogether. When a certain fighter needs it, the powers that be in the UFC offices put together video packages that make it look like the inferior/lesser known challenger has a better chance at winning than he actually does. Before we divulge into the statistical breakdown between the main event fighters, we have to decide if Urijah Faber’s being pushed by the UFC Hype Machine as a legit challenger is justifiable.
(Reed Kuhn introduced me to ‘The Power of Hype’ in Chapter 9 of ‘FightNomics’. The book has changed my view on gambling on mixed martial arts and if you enjoy this column, please give that book a read. Even if you don’t like my work, give it a shot.)
One way we can analyze this is by analyzing what the promo packages and why they are saying he supposedly has a better opportunity this time around. ‘The California Kid’ has put together an exciting, amazing string of wins and is currently riding a four-fight win streak. In this hype video, Faber credits the fact that he is ready for this bout against Barao to his recent performances in the octagon, specifically referencing his wins last year. Splitting his last eight fights into two groups (2013 Faber vs. Previous Faber) will tell us if he has truly evolved like everyone is saying he has.
‘Final Form’ Faber: 4-0 in his last four fights. (Defeated Ivan Menjuvar, Scott Jorgensen, Iuri Alcantara and Michael McDonald.) Finished three of those fights by way of submission and won the other by unanimous decision. In 46 minutes and 12 seconds of fight time, he outnumbered his opponents’ significant strikes 193 to 93. That’s 4.17 strikes landed per minute (SLpM) and only 2.01 strikes absorbed per minute (SApM). Faber also landed 9 total takedowns throughout those four fights, falling victim to a takedown only 3 times.
‘Former’ Faber: 2-2 in fights preceding his current winning streak. (Defeated Eddie Wineland and Brian Bowles, lost to Dominick Cruz and Renan Barao.) Finished one of the two wins by way of submission and won the other by unanimous decision. In 71 minutes and 27 seconds of fight time, he was outstruck by his opponents 199 to 195. That’s around 2.73 SLpM and 2.78 SApM. Faber landed 4 total takedowns throughout those four bouts while his opponents were able to take him down 5 times total.
‘The California Kid’ has, without a doubt, improved since his last meeting with the UFC Bantamweight champion.
A factor that could be going against Faber is that he is walking into this fight with only three-weeks notice. He has never gone into a fight on short notice in the UFC before, so this is a factor we will have to ignore as there are no stats to back up a reasonable conclusion.
In order for us to compare their statistics fairly we have to condense Barao’s averages to his last four fights as well. Check out how their stats looked side-by-side:
Urijah Faber: 46:12 octagon time | 4.17 SLpM | 2.01 SLpM | 1 Knockdown | 9 TD Executed
Renan Barao: 64:32 octagon time | 3.92 SLpM | 2.63 SApM | 1 Knockdown | 100% TD Def.
Taking the low number of knockdowns executed by both men into consideration, it will be safe to assume that this fight will not end in a knockout. The question remains whether or not Barao will be able to defend Faber’s takedowns. Even if he can’t, Barao has never lost by submission and neither has Faber. This fight will not be ending by way of knockout and it is unlikely to end on the ground, so we can now intelligently assume that this fight is going the distance. In short, expect this fight to look a lot like their contest at UFC 149.
A variable we have to address is the total amount of in-octagon time between both fighters. If Urijah Faber had spent another 18 minutes in the octagon to match Barao’s time, would his numbers still be as impressive? One thing is for sure and it’s that Faber’s stats are better than the last time he stepped in a cage with Barao.
The bookies at gambling sites have labeled Urijah Faber as a +250 underdog in their rematch. What this means is that the bookies believe Faber has very little chance of winning this bout and will reward you $250 for a $100 bet. Some bookies blame the uneven odds to the fact that Faber has lost to Barao before. Superstitions like ‘history is doomed to repeat itself’ have no place as a ‘factor’ when it comes to gambling on MMA. Trilogies are such a common occurrence in main-event MMA that it automatically disproves the theory.
The main-event will be a close one, without a doubt. Urijah Faber is my pick as the best chance to make the most money on an underdog at UFC 169 as his chances of winning are a lot better than last time. He seems to be in the best shape of his career so age won’t be that much of a factor. Unlike with his last four fights, do not expect Faber to control the octagon like he has been. Barao is among the elite in dictating where the action goes and I assume he will do the same this Saturday against Faber.
– With Barao’s TD defense, they will likely stay standing.
– 2 combined KDs in 2 hours 44 seconds. Likely won’t end in KO.
– Safe to assume fight is going the distance.
– Faber has improved since their last outing.
– It’s going to be CLOSE.
@MMAKirschner’s Prediction: Barao def. Faber by way of Decision
@MMAKirschner’s Most Valuable Bet: Faber def. Barao by way of Decision
Who do you think will win the main-event this Saturday night? Share your predictions in the comments section below!