In the main event of UFC 214, light heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier will put his title on the line against former champion Jon Jones. The UFC Fight will be a rematch of his 2015 fight in which Jones, then the champion, dominated Cormier and kept the belt. What follows is a look at the statistical categories that were the main factors in the first fight and will likely play a major role on Saturday.
After several years competing in MMA, Daniel Cormier has become a well-rounded wrestler. However, in his heart, the Olympic is still a fighter. During his combined UFC / Strikeforce career, he has attempted 63 takedowns and landed 1.92 for 15 minutes of fight time. Out of the first fight against Jones, Cormier has successfully completed 52 percent of his attempts to dismount. Against Jones, he was one for eight, which is only 13 percent. To be successful, you will have to find a way to drag Jones to the ground.
Dismounting “Bones” is not an easy task. In the UFC, he has halted 94 percent of the attempts to dismantle his opponents. Other than Cormier, Alexander Gustafsson is the only other fighter to successfully topple Jones. Like Cormier, he managed only one drop in eight attempts. Unfortunately for Daniel Cormier, he will need to worry about something more than Jones’ defensive fight. In his first fight, the former champion defeated Cormier three times. During his UFC career, Jones has landed 2.25 takedowns for every 15 minutes in a 52 percent clip. Despite not having Cormier’s fighting credentials, Jones proved he could win a takedown battle in his first fight. If he can repeat that feat, he will have the advantage in this rematch.
Jones is a very accurate striker. There are 55 percent of your important strike attempts. That is the third best accuracy among the classified heavyweights. On the other hand, Cormier lands 49 percent of his significant strike attempts, which is the seventh best among ranked heavyweights.
While Jones has the overall advantage in terms of surprising accuracy, that advantage is much more pronounced when it comes to striking distance accuracy. At a distance (that is, standing, but not in the clinch), Jones lands 47 percent of his strikes, while Cormier lands only 38 percent of his attempts away. “Bones” has a range of 84 inches, and that gives it a unique advantage over most light heavyweights when it comes to landing attacks in range. Against Daniel Cormier, you will have a 12-inch range advantage. In his first fight, Jones used this edge quite well. He landed 41 percent of his strikes away compared to only 29 percent for Cormier. If Jones is able to use his wrestling to keep the fight at bay, Cormier will be fighting an uphill battle overnight.
Jones’ ability to land attacks within range is not only in his surprising accuracy, but also in terms of eye-catching differential. Striking difference is the number of significant strikes landed per minute minus the number of significant strikes absorbed per minute. Jones has the second best differential among the classified heavyweights. His difference of 2.25 points difference is behind Corey Anderson (2.63). Daniel Cormier is also respectable in this category. It has the fourth highest differential at 1.71. Taking into account the notable difference average for ranked heavyweights is .75, it is fair to say that both fighters are well above average.
In his first fight, Jones dominated this category. On a per-minute basis, outlanded Cormier for 1.36 significant strikes. As expected, Jones had the edge in the distance. He landed 2.04 distance attacks per minute compared to 1.40 for Daniel Cormier. However, “Bones” also had the edge on the clinch. In that position, he achieved 1.60 significant strikes per minute, nearly doubling Cormier, who only got 0.88 significant strokes per minute. This has to be troubling for the champion. In the first fight, even when he was able to close the gap and avoid Jones’ reach, he still ended up missing the surprising exchanges. You will need to show improvements or employ new tactics to throw significant shots against Jones.