Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Anderson Silva's fighters vs. Georges St-Pierre's fighters

There's bitter MMA acrimony over whether Georges St-Pierre or Anderson Silva is the best pound for pound fighter in the world. The essence of the argument is that Anderson Silva is really good at ending fights.

Now, having seen every fight in the UFC that both men have fought, I'm actually a little mystified that GSP hasn't finished more of his guys. You look at the faces of Koscheck or Fitch and . . . they've definitely been in a fight. Their faces are mashed up. You just watch the fights and it's clear that GSP is hitting his foes with just brutal blows. Greg Jackson said that GSP was hitting Koscheck so hard with the jab that Koscheck was being knocked out of range of GSP's cross. And the blows were precise, a large number of them seeming to fall square on the temple or jaw. And the beating GSP gave to Fitch was worse. How did he not finish those fights?

Some of it is just that . . . the guys GSP fights are just less likely to be finished than the guys Silva has fought. Here's how it breaks down. I am counting only fights that they've done as champions in the UFC. Silva has done three fights that weren't championship fights during his reign as UFC middleweight champion, one of them catchweight because his opponent didn't make weight at middleweight and two fights as a light heavyweight. I'm counting them though even if you eliminate them it doesn't much change the basic truth, here.

The guys that Silva fought as while UFC champion or in a championship fight get submitted on average of 2.5 knockouts each and 2.7 submissions, each. The guys that GSP has fought while UFC champion or in a championship fight have an average of 1.7 submissions and KOs each. GSP's opponents are 32% less likely to be knocked our or submitted.

GSP's opponents also have a better win-loss ratio. Silva's fighters average 2.9 wins for every loss. GSP's? 3.4 wins for every loss. So, not only do they get submitted less often when they do lose, they just win more often -- about 15% more.

I've maintained for some time that the welterweights are, in generally, just better than the middleweights and it is apparently quite objectively true. The guys GSP opponents win more often and they get finished less often.

During his championship tenure, Silva has finished a fairly staggering 10 of his 12 fights. GSP a somewhat less impressive 4 out of 8. But I think if you factor the little issue that GSP's opponents are better fighters less liable to be caught in a KO or submission, that statistical discrepancy disappears entirely.

But I'm clearly a GSP fanboy, hehe. Though I love Anderson Silva, too. It's so hard to choose! But I think GSP is currently a better fighter. He has dominated his fights in a way that Silva's last three title defenses were not dominated. He was unwilling to press to engage Thales Leites, he refused to engage Demian Maia in the last two rounds, and he was pounded by Chael Sonnen through four and a half rounds. That is in stark contrast to GSP's destruction of Josh Koscheck, Thiago Alves and Dan Hardy.

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