Two top 5 lightweights go head-to-head as Dustin Poirier and Dan Hooker face off in a critical matchup that could reshape the top of the division. Hooker’s ascension up the rankings has been methodical before a quick jump in his last two wins over Al Iaquinta and Paul Felder, but he gets his toughest test yet in former interim champion Poirier, who himself is looking to regain traction and build back to a shot at gold.
In the co-main event, an edgy brawler-vs-submission-artist matchup goes down when Mike Perry and Mickey Gall square up. The fight is crucial in both fighters’ journey to earn a shot at a top 15 opponent sooner rather than later. While the card features plenty of intriguing matchups, the prelim bout between Luis Pena and Khama Worthy promises to showcase two of the more idiosyncratic fighters with two of the best nicknames on the roster (“Violent Bob Ross” and “The Death Star,” respectively).
To get an idea on how all these fights might shape up in the Octagon, we dive into the statistics and look for what trends could rise take place on the canvas this Saturday.
(All stats according to UFC’s Record Book and Fight Metric as of June 24, 2020, and only include active athletes in their respective division unless noted otherwise)
Main Event: Dustin Poirier vs Dan Hooker
Key Stats: 6.51 strikes landed per minute (3rd all-time among LW), +1.77 striking differential (5th), 49% significant striking accuracy, 56% significant strike defense
What It Means: While Dustin Poirier uses a variety of striking techniques, his boxing is his bread and butter, as well as potentially the best in the UFC. Often, he finds his range with clean jabs and crosses from his southpaw stance, and he’ll string together strong combinations with his heavy hands. Often willing to take a shot in order to give one, his patience has increased over the last few years when he smells a finish coming.
Key Stats: 5.75 strikes landed per minute (5th), 1.14 knockdowns per 15 minutes (5th all-time among LW), 45% significant striking accuracy, 55% significant striking defense
What It Means: At 6-feet tall with a 75-inch reach, Dan Hooker utilizes his length to strike tactically at range with a variety of jabs, teep kicks and solid footwork. Mostly methodical in the way he operates, Hooker definitely carries power when he chooses to sit on any of his strikes, and he is adept at using all limbs in his attack. Once he senses an opponent wilting under that pressure, he ups the tempo and shows great accuracy when looking to end the fight.
What to Look for in the Fight: In a physical sense, this fight is a little similar to Hooker’s most recent war with Paul Felder. That said, Poirier’s hands carry a bit more power, and few have the Octagon experience of the “Diamond.” Poirier might need to get inside to touch the longer New Zealander and he has the power to shake his defense, but Hooker might look to counter and shake Poirier when he enters the pocket.
Co-Main Event: Mike Perry vs Mickey Gall
Key Stats: 4.27 significant strikes landed per minute, 4.5 significant strikes absorbed per minute, 70% takedown defense
What It Means: Mike Perry is an absolute brawler who bets on his chin to take what his opponent gives and his own power to end the fight first. With slick boxing and high torque when throwing elbows, Perry has one thing on his mind at all times: a knockout.
Key Stats: 4 submission wins (3rd), 2.7 submissions per 15 mionutes (1st), 7:09 average fight time (4th)
What It Means: Mickey Gall is looking to get the fight to the ground and utilize his submission game to end the fight as fast as possible. Although he is a decently large welterweight (6-foot-2, 74-inch reach) and throws looping, powerful strikes, he is slick on the ground.
What to Look for in the Fight: This is a striker-vs-grappler matchup with a little more edge to it. Mickey Gall doesn’t always use the most dominant wrestling attack to get to his submission game, and Perry’s take one to give one approach has him with three losses in his last four. Both have their clear path to victory, but the margins between those methods is going to make the difference.
Other Fights to Watch (Luis Pena vs Khama Worthy)
Key Stats: 48.6% control time (3rd), 3.32 significant strikes landed per minute, 2.47 significant strikes absorbed per minute
What It Means: Luis Pena’s long build and quirky attack pattern can often freeze an opponent while they wait for “Violent Bob Ross” to open up with his strikes. An aggressive, pressure-heavy fighter, Pena has solid grappling and can threaten for submissions with his wiry frame.
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Key Stats: 4.94 significant strikes landed per minute, 41% significant strike accuracy, 44% significant strike defense
What It Means: In his own words, Khama Worthy’s best trait is his offbeat timing and ability to throw his opponent off because of that. He showed sneaky power in his debut, knocking Devonte Smith out in an ending that seemed to come out of nowhere, but a re-watch reveals a calculated combination that led to the finish.
What to Look for in the Fight: This matchup features a pair of fun fighters who opponents tend to have a hard time getting a bead on and finding their rhythm against. Pena likes to use his long legs and creative striking to dictate the fight, but Worthy does enjoy his own off-tempo method of fighting as well. Pena is a bit more adept on the ground, though, so that could be one path to victory for “Violent Bob Ross” should he choose it.