Sports are games of numbers.
If a football game ends 28-21, we immediately know which team won. Similarly, if a basketball contest is scored 109-97 at its conclusion, we can automatically recognize the victor.
MMA, however, is not so simple. Numbers are involved in the game, sure, but we cannot simply look at a set of numbers and determine who won a given fight.
Metrics like "significant strikes" and "takedown efficiency" can tell part of the story of an MMA fight, but it only takes one punch, kick or submission to turn the tides in any given matchup.
For the main event at UFC 149, the numbers tell a story that you can trust. Renan Barao won based on the numbers FightMetric has provided, and he won in reality.
Let us take a look and see if we can break down this fight numerically.
In his matchup with Urijah Faber, Renan Barao landed 85 significant strikes to Urijah Faber's 60. Watching the fight, I actually felt that Barao landed much more and that Faber landed much less.
However, the numbers don't lie, and Barao held an edge, as expected, in this department.
What does it mean?
Barao's edge in significant strikes only means that he was landing harder shots on a more consistent basis than Faber. Neither fighter was rocked or wobbled at any point in the fight; so, while the strikes may be labeled "significant," the fight was a tale of volume more-so than power.
Here is an important aspect of the fight, and the numbers tell the tale perfectly.
Many people, myself included, felt that if Faber could drag Barao to the mat, he would hold an advantage with his power and grappling prowess.
Here is a stat to crush that hope: 0-6, Faber's takedown rate.
He shot six times on the Brazilian but was unsuccessful on each attempt, meaning that Barao was able to play his rangy striking game for the full 25 minutes of action.
Barao's takedown defense looked good, and the numbers certainly back up what we saw.
What Does it Mean?
Faber's inability to get the fight to the mat obviously means he had to stand and strike with Barao. This turned out to be a fight he simply couldn't win, and Barao became the new interim champion thanks to his superior technical striking.
It is no secret that Urijah Faber has trouble defending leg kicks, and we saw that story play out against Renan Barao just as it did in his bout against Jose Aldo.
Barao landed 15 of 19 powerful leg kicks that clearly slowed Faber and reduced his ability to throw strikes and shoot for takedowns (a sentiment echoed in his 0 percent takedown efficiency).
Conversely, Faber returned fire only three times, connecting on each powerful leg kick he threw.
What Does it Mean?
The leg kick statistics show, as we already knew, that Faber is susceptible to having his legs attacked. Leg kicks rarely end fights, but the work Barao did in slowing Faber and reducing his overall efficiency was a key aspect to the fight.
In total, Faber vs. Barao was a stand-up war that went the distance, so the numbers are relatively easy to dissect.
Barao landed more shots, more powerful leg kicks and avoided ever being taken down.
For that, he is the clear victor on paper, and he has a shiny UFC belt to back up these statistics.