UFC 195 Preview
Main Event: (C ) “Ruthless” Robbie Lawler vs. #4 Carlos “The Natural Born Killer” Condit for the welterweight championship.
Last time anyone saw Lawler he was bloodied, but victorious in his UFC 189 title defense over Rory MacDonald by TKO, in what many view as the best fight of 2015.
Lawler has been described more of a brawler than a fighter due to very heavy hands and an aggressive style. In his fight against Josh Koscheck two years ago, Lawler was still able to win by 1st round TKO, despite most of the fight occurring with the two fighters on the ground and grappling against the wall, not typically great striking position. With the end of the first drawing near, Lawler’s heavy hands were on display when he used one strong punch to stun Koscheck, dislodge himself and then land several blows on Koscheck before the ref stopped the fight.
Even though Lawler does not look for much offense via submission or wrestling, he is solid at defending both. His 67% takedown defense is still out of the top-10 amongst active UFC welterweights (number ten on the list, Sean Spencer, is 72%). Where Lawler struggles is his striking defense where he averages almost the same numbers of significant strikes landed per round as significant strikes absorbed per round.
Another KO artist, Carlos Condit had his last win, a Fight Night victory over Thiago Alves, end in a knockout and has 15 of his 30 career wins come by knockout. Where the two differ is in versatility in striking. Where Lawler primarily use his punches, Condit is very good when it comes to mixing up his moves as far as punches, kicks, knees and looks more to use his strikes as a counter-attack. Against Alves, Condit showed punch to set up a kick, kicked to set up punches, and punched to set up elbows.
Defensively, Condit is a bit deceptive. On paper, Condit’s 58% total strike avoidance rate looks bad compared to Lawler’s 62%, but Condit’s significant strikes absorbed per round rate is significantly better than Lawler. Additionally, where Lawler once again has the advantage in takedown defense rate, Condit has 11 submissions in his career to just one by Lawler.
Ultimately, if Condit can find a way to avoid and then counter Lawler’s punches, he can take the title. Though, Lawler’s devastating power means he can change the direction of a fight with just one punch.
Three other bouts to watch
Heavyweight bout: #3 Stipe Miocic vs. #2 Andrei “The Pitbull” Arlovski
The winner of this match will probably have a date with the winner of Cain Velasquez-Fabricio Werdum title match next month.
Arlovski is going through a bit of a career revival at 36. Now in his second stint with the UFC, he has won his last four fights including two knockouts. In his first round knockout of Travis Browne earlier in 2015, Arlovski does a good job of mixing up his striking combinations, but tends to favor his punches. Those punches pack lots of power, as he was able to stun Browne numerous times in that one round. At one point during the fight Arlovski got a little to aggressive in his attempts to KO Browne, and Arlovski took a big punch. It’s not the first time in his career Arlovski’s aggressive KO attempts has backfired.
To counter, Miocic has a three inch reach advantage and is already pretty accomplished defending strikes, ranking third amongst active UFC heavyweights in significant strikes defended rate at 62.8% (Arlovski is 2nd on the list). Miocic also has an advantage in takedowns, landing 2.16 takedowns per 15 minutes and ranks in the top-10 amongst active heavyweights in total takedowns and takedown accuracy. Once on the ground, Miocic's ground n’ pound is exceptional.
Welterweight bout: Lorenz “The Monsoon” Larkin vs. Albert “Einstein” Tumenov
The UFC may have something in the 24-year old Tumenov. He already has 16 wins at a very young age, and has only two losses, both by decision, and just one of those was a unanimous decision. Meanwhile he has won 10 of his last 12 bouts by knockout. In his only loss in the UFC, the split-loss decision in what was his first UFC fight, Tumenov looked great at striking from the ground, but also looked very susceptible to takedowns.
Larkin’s resume includes a victory over current UFC welterweight champion Lawler, back when both fighters were part of the Strikeforce promotion. Larkin is primarily a striker who likes to mix in some flying front kicks. Defensively, Larkin holds an advantage over Tumenov, absorbing fewer significant strikes per minute (3.54 to 2.45) while also sporting better a total strikes defended rate (64% to 59%).
Lightweight bout: Scott “Hot Sauce” Holtzman vs Drew Dober
Holtzman enters this fight, just his second in the UFC, with a 9-0 record, but at 32, isn’t a youngster like Tumenov. In standup, Holtzman deploys some very good head kicks, but also has the ability to score a takedown to deploy some ground n’ pound punches. Defensively, Holtzman looks pretty comfortable at escaping or reversing when an opponent takes a dominant position in a clinch or on the ground.
Since joining the UFC, Dober has struggled, with one win in four bouts. Dober is a striker, but not a very accurate one, landing just 31% of his punches. Additionally, he takes a ton of big shots, averaging 4.57 significant strikes absorbed per minute. Dober is solid at takedown defense, stopping 69% of all takedown attempt by opponents.