Welcome fight fans to the 33nd edition of “Statistically Speaking,” an article where we break down some of our favorite upcoming battles by the numbers. We dig down into all the stats, records, and achievements to see what they can shine on the fight nights that electrify time and again.
Each contains three segments; The Wrap Sheet looks at each fighter individually, the Cross Examination compares the numbers, and The Winning Path takes all this and lays forth a possible road to victory.

UFC 181 is going to kick off the final month of 2014 with perhaps some of the best matches of the entire year. This fight in particular may be the gem of them all. Known for his long intermissions between battles, be it injury or timing, Anthony “Showtime” Pettis (17-2-0) returns to face Gilbert Melendez (22-3-0) in what may be one of the most exciting pairings since Pettis claimed the UFC title. Melendez is one of the best fighters to transition over to the UFC, much like Pettis. This fight is truly an elite pairing, and the results promise nothing short of explosive action. Finally the two TUF 20 coaches will put it all on the line, and even if TUF was not involved, this would be one hell of a fight.

THE WRAP SHEET

Let’s start off with the challenger, #2 ranked Lightweight Gilbert Melendez. Hands down the most successful Strikeforce champ of all time, Melendez is one of those guys who made the transition over to the UFC well. His only loss in the last six years was a razor-thin “anybody’s fight” split decision to Benson Henderson. In 25 fights, he has only lost three times, and has never been finished. With only a single submission win, Melendez is a proven power striker and cardio machine. He holds 11 wins via knockout and 10 on the scorecards. One of the busiest fighters in his division, Gilbert Melendez is absolute dynamite.

UFC Lightweight champ Anthony “Showtime” Pettis is by far one of the most popular and successful fighters of the modern UFC era. His “Showtime kick” will live on forever, and there can be no question that he has come to define the Lightweight division. Although not the most active fighter, he brings an insane amount of fans and hype into every bout. A very well rounded fighter, with nine KO’s, five submissions, and three decision victories, Pettis is dangerous in all area, and has also never been stopped. He has lost twice in his pro career, each one being a rather odd affair. Revamped and rebooted, “Showtime” is looking to hold this title for a long time, and hopefully, an eventual showdown with Jose Aldo.

CROSS EXAMINATION

First thing that leaps out at me is the elite level of both these guys. Pettis and Melendez are about as world class as you can be. They have fought most of the top names around their weight, dominated in most fights, and electrified fans time and again. They have a combined record of 39-5, and neither man has been finished in a MMA bout. Gilbert has three times the decision wins as Pettis does, but also more knockouts. “Showtime” rarely makes it to the cards, and holds a nice statistical advantage in the submission area. Both guys have great footwork and angles as well, making this all the more intriguing.

Welcome fight fans to the 33nd edition of “Statistically Speaking,” an article where we break down some of our favorite upcoming battles by the numbers. We dig down into all the stats, records, and achievements to see what they can shine on the fight nights that electrify time and again.
Each contains three segments; The Wrap Sheet looks at each fighter individually, the Cross Examination compares the numbers, and The Winning Path takes all this and lays forth a possible road to victory.

UFC 181 is going to kick off the final month of 2014 with perhaps some of the best matches of the entire year. This fight in particular may be the gem of them all. Known for his long intermissions between battles, be it injury or timing, Anthony “Showtime” Pettis (17-2-0) returns to face Gilbert Melendez (22-3-0) in what may be one of the most exciting pairings since Pettis claimed the UFC title. Melendez is one of the best fighters to transition over to the UFC, much like Pettis. This fight is truly an elite pairing, and the results promise nothing short of explosive action. Finally the two TUF 20 coaches will put it all on the line, and even if TUF was not involved, this would be one hell of a fight.

THE WRAP SHEET

Let’s start off with the challenger, #2 ranked Lightweight Gilbert Melendez. Hands down the most successful Strikeforce champ of all time, Melendez is one of those guys who made the transition over to the UFC well. His only loss in the last six years was a razor-thin “anybody’s fight” split decision to Benson Henderson. In 25 fights, he has only lost three times, and has never been finished. With only a single submission win, Melendez is a proven power striker and cardio machine. He holds 11 wins via knockout and 10 on the scorecards. One of the busiest fighters in his division, Gilbert Melendez is absolute dynamite.

UFC Lightweight champ Anthony “Showtime” Pettis is by far one of the most popular and successful fighters of the modern UFC era. His “Showtime kick” will live on forever, and there can be no question that he has come to define the Lightweight division. Although not the most active fighter, he brings an insane amount of fans and hype into every bout. A very well rounded fighter, with nine KO’s, five submissions, and three decision victories, Pettis is dangerous in all area, and has also never been stopped. He has lost twice in his pro career, each one being a rather odd affair. Revamped and rebooted, “Showtime” is looking to hold this title for a long time, and hopefully, an eventual showdown with Jose Aldo.

CROSS EXAMINATION

First thing that leaps out at me is the elite level of both these guys. Pettis and Melendez are about as world class as you can be. They have fought most of the top names around their weight, dominated in most fights, and electrified fans time and again. They have a combined record of 39-5, and neither man has been finished in a MMA bout. Gilbert has three times the decision wins as Pettis does, but also more knockouts. “Showtime” rarely makes it to the cards, and holds a nice statistical advantage in the submission area. Both guys have great footwork and angles as well, making this all the more intriguing.

On the feet Gilbert appears to throw more, while “Showtime” has the more diverse striking approach. Melendez lands almost twice as many strikes per minute as Pettis does, which may be a surprising stat for some. Pettis holds a 44% striking accuracy to Gilbert’s 34%, and both guys have a near 70% defense rating on the feet. This paints us a picture of Anthony being the more unique and accurate striker, but most likely coming in less than Gilbert in exchanges. Although they do have a small difference in precision, I think the real factor will be who has the bigger power and where they can land it. Gil has dynamite hands, but the same can be said for Pettis’ kicks. Not to mention Gilbert absorbs more strikes per round than Pettis does.

On the mat the fight takes an interesting turn. Melendez lands less than 50% of his attempts, compared to Pettis’ near 80% success rate. They both float around 70% on their takedown defense, and “Showtime” holds a distinct submission output advantage over Gilbert. We’re talking like near ten times as much per 15 minutes. Pettis holds the numbers to make the mat a major factor in this fight. If Gilbert gets dropped or caught up, he will have one hell of a hill to climb to stay out of “Showtimes” web. That’s not to say getting Melendez down is an easy task, very few have put him down.

THE WINNING PATH

For Gilbert Melendez, I believe the key to his success lies in combos and staying away from power kicks. In fact, Melded should try to minimize his kick attacks in this fight altogether. Kicks from Pettis are game changers, and his own kicks will be where he is most exposed to the takedown outside wild exchanges. Gilbert has to bring the volume with angles, and never let up if he senses even for a moment that Pettis is in any sort of disadvantage. If he can make this a dogfight, all the better. If he can nullify the leg strikes, make the time on the canvas brief, and double up in the pockets, he could in all reality be the first to stop Anthony Pettis. If nothing else, Melendez has won many more fight son the cards, and could point-fight his way to the UFC championship.

Anthony Pettis needs to do two things. First, He cannot afford to bring ring rust or nagging injuries into this battle. Although he does have great ground skills, let us not forget he was smothered out by Clay Guida a few years back in his UFC debut. He has to be himself, and utilize his unique arsenal amidst the flurries from Melendez. Picking his shots, timing any groundwork to Melendez gas tank, these are all smart moves for Pettis. Melendez is not a Guida style wrestler, so he will probably be more free with his kicks. A well tuned and focused Anthony Pettis possesses all the traits to be the first to stop Gilbert Melendez. He can with this with strikes or submissions, he just has to dictate the pace of the fight and never let go.

 

 

By: R Eric Ellison

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