(All stats according to UFC’s Record Book as of May 19, 2021, and only include active athletes in their respective division unless noted otherwise)
Main Event: Rob Font vs Cody Garbrandt
Key Stats: 5 KO/TKO wins (tied-2nd all-time among BW), 5.21 strikes landed per minute (8th), 0.9 knockdowns per 15 minutes (6th)
What It Means: Font is a smooth, technical striker with natural power in his strikes. He is particularly proficient with his lead hand, showing both an educated jab, which allows him to dictate the distance and tempo on the feet, as well as a smart hook that catches his opponents moving forward. His grappling is fundamentally strong, and he does well to scramble to his feet when opponents press him toward the cage and onto the ground.
Key Stats: 1.58 knockdowns per 15 minutes (1st all-time among BW), 64.8% significant strike defense (tied-5th), 3.35 strikes landed per minute
What It Means: “No Love” is a dynamic fighter, possessing stunning speed and power, particularly in his hands. When he fights patiently, he is technically sound and a difficult flurry of movement and strikes to solve. His defensive movement is shifty and keeps him right in position to counter or showboat, both of which he enjoys. When he loads up, he’s vulnerable to a big shot himself, but his power is devastating.
What to Look For in the Fight: While both fighters mix things up relatively well – Garbrandt has the better grappling credentials – this fight should spend most of its time in the standup game. Font’s jab is crucial in how it could disrupt Garbrandt’s timing and distance management, but Garbrandt’s speed is a gameplan breaker. Garbrandt mixes kicks in a bit more than Font as well and could use that to chop the legs of his opponent, who often uses a boxing-based stance.
Co-Main Event: Yan Xiaonan vs Carla Esparza
Key Stats: 75% takedown defense (5th all-time among WSW), 6.42 strikes landed per minute (3rd all-time among WSW), +2.79 striking differential (3rd all-time among WSW)
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What It Means: Yan is a quick, diverse striker who utilizes a variety of attacks to keep her opponents off balance. From distance, she has a wide arsenal of kicks she uses to both keep range as well as prod her opponent’s body and legs. She can also whip a kick up high without much windup. Her takedown defense is solid, and she often makes the most of the chance to punish her foe for shooting.
Key Stats: 39 takedowns landed (1st all-time among WSW), 30.1% control time (4th), 3.44 takedowns per 15 minutes
What It Means: The UFC’s first strawweight champion is a wrestler through and through. She grinds her opponents and is relentless in her pursuit. At her best, she blends her striking into her takedown attempts and often outhustles her opponents in exchanges. She comes forward with a good pace, and she is patient in searching for chances to progress her position on the ground.
What to Look For in the Fight: This is your classic striker vs grappler matchup. Esparza is on a good run of form and has shown the ability to grind through adversity and eat strikes in order to get in on her opponent’s legs and take them down. She’ll be a tough test for Yan, who to this point has shown a proficiency and technical brilliance on the feet that makes her a difficult puzzle for most in the division.
Other Fights to Watch (Jack Hermansson vs Edmen Shahbazyan)
Key Stats: 5.03 strikes landed per minute (4th all-time among MW), 3.42% takedown accuracy (tied-9th), 0.7 submissions per 15 minutes (10th)
What It Means: Hermansson is a crafty fighter with strong finishing instincts on the feet and on the ground. The way he goes for submissions is aggressive in a way that at times catches his opponents a little off guard. On the feet, he uses front kicks to the body to manage range, and his long legs allow him to strike at a good distance. He has a keen sense of leverage in the clinch as well.
Top Finishes: Edmen Shahbazyan
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Top Finishes: Edmen Shahbazyan
Key Stats: 1.51 knockdowns per 15 minutes (4th all-time among MW), 5:57 average fight time (2nd shortest), 3.85 strikes landed per minute
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What It Means: Shahbazyan is a powerful, smooth fighter, especially on his feet. His boxing is slick and fundamentally sound, and he carries power in each punch without needing to load up all too much. He is physically strong, and once he senses a finish, he does well to pounce on his opponent while also not getting himself into a bad position.
What to Look For in the Fight: On the feet, look for Hermansson to utilize his kicking game to keep Shahbazyan out of rhythm and at a distance. If Shahbazyan does get into range to use his hands, he has the power to end the fight quickly, but Hermansson’s grappling is also strong and he can use it to counter any flurries Shahbazyan might throw his way. Hermansson is probably Shahbazyan’s most dangerous test in terms of his ability to find submissions as well, so if he attacks something there, it’ll shed light on Shahbazyan’s defensive grappling.