Its been more than two years since Cian Velasquez entered the Octagon, who is a former UFC heavyweight champion. This drought will finally come to an end on Sunday when he faces Francis Ngannou in the UFC: Fight Night main event in Phoenix. Ngannou managed to stop a two-fight losing streak during November in 2018 and doesn’t have to worry when it comes to ring rust. However, many believe that Velasquez will win this fight. Let’s take a look at the statistical information at hand to see what the outcome of the fight might be.
For a ranked heavyweight fighter in the UFC, the average striking differential is around +0.93. Obviously, Velasquez is currently unranked as he has been inactive for two years, but he is still far ahead of the pack in terms of this metric. His striking differential currently stands at +4.09 which is 40% higher than the current heavyweight leaders. Meanwhile, Ngannou is suffering from one of the worst striking differentials in the octagon at +0.03. Although he allows his opponents to only land 1.94 strikes per minute, he only lands 1.97 strikes per minute.
A key factor behind the ability of Velasquez to land such an incredible volume while avoiding punishment from his opponents is his ability to strike and secure from advantageous positions. Most UFC fighters tend to land the biggest portion of their strikes at a distance, defined by standing as opposed to clinching. Velasquez has delivered 38% of his strikes on the ground along with 27% of his strikes on the clinch. Most of Ngannou’s strikes are delivered at a distance, totalling 68%. He has managed to hold his own when it comes to the ground. Only 22% of his strikes have been on the mat in his entire UFC career.
The career history of Ngannou is a mixed bag when it comes to takedown defense and will definitely need to keep on his feet if he wants to be successful here. He managed to stop 70% of his takedown attempts during his UFC career which is above average. However, for every 15 minutes of fight time, he still allowed a total of 2.29 takedowns. Although Velasquez is not a real threat in terms of accurate takedowns, he does compensate for it with persistence. His takedown accuracy during his UFC career is a mere 45%, but he does attempt 11.2 takedowns for every 15 minutes of fight time.
Ngannou and Velasquez virtually average the same fight time. Ngannou’s average fight time is 7.16, while Velasquez is around 7.17. However, there’s no doubt that a longer fight will favour the former heavyweight champion. Ngannou has only managed to make it past the second round twice during his UFC career and lost on both occasions. The longer the fight goes on, the more likely it will be for Velasquez to win the bout. Therefore, Ngannou should take down Velasquez as soon as possible.