The main event at UFC 164: Henderson vs. Pettis in Milwaukee, held at the BMO Harris Bradley Center, will feature one of the most anticipated rematches in MMA history when Benson Henderson looks to avenge his loss to Anthony Pettis.
The co-main event provides a bout hardcore fans have been arguing about for nearly a decade. And from the main card down through the prelims, the fights hold a wide range of veterans who all are well aware that losses at UFC 164 will place their careers in jeopardy, while a win will launch them into final pushes for a belt.
With all that in mind, some rather surprising statistics underscore the already notable gravity of the event. UFC 164 holds the world's only non-finishing champion, the two most experienced active veterans in the game and some of the most active fighters in the world at any weight class.
*All stats compiled from FightMetric.com and Sherdog.com's Fight Finder
Lightweight champion Benson Henderson has never finished a fight in the UFC. That is not to say the man is not talented, that he is incapable or that he plays a safe game. No judgment here. But the statistic isn't a mirage, and it is what it is. Henderson has decisioned every single one of his opponents. Not all have been runaway victories either.
Henderson is a world-class athlete. Unfortunately, he only seems to be barely good enough each time out. While that is still highly respectable given the deep lightweight division, the fact he has not finished an opponent in seven bouts is disappointing.
To be fair to Henderson, all of his opponents in the UFC have been top 10, four of which were in the top five. It is not as if he was fighting men who have a history of being stopped.
Tim Bocek and Clay Guida have each been stopped twice in their UFC careers. Nate Diaz and Jim Miller have each been stopped once. Neither Gilbert Melendez and Frankie Edgar have ever been stopped in their respective careers. All, with the exception of Melendez who came over from Strikeforce as their lightweight champion, have had over a dozen fights in the UFC.
But what champion has avoided Top-10s and Top-5s? There is no champion that avoids taking on the very best. Yet even Georges St-Pierre finished Matt Hughes and Matt Serra. Henderson just fails to find that finishing touch. With Pettis being his hardest challenge to date, it is not likely he'll find the finish at UFC 164 either. That means he'll once again have to be the better man for all five rounds.
Frank Mir has nine submissions and 20 submission attempts in his UFC career, giving him the most in the submissions in the UFC. It also places him among the top all time in both categories at heavyweight. The tally is impressive—until you look at Josh Barnett's record. “The Warmaster” has 20 submissions while fighting in a variety of leagues. He has as many finishes as Mir has recorded attempts, which is almost mind-boggling.
Barnett has the second-most submissions by a top-level MMA fighter behind Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, who has 21 total. Barnett now has a chance to tie the record at UFC 164. To do so, he'll have to submit the first man to submitted Nogueira. A task that is nowhere close to simple.
Barnett narrowly missed being the first to submit Nogueira at Pride Final Conflict Absolute in 2006. The "Warmaster" earned the decision of the Brazilian, but not the satisfaction of the tap or snap from a sunk knee bar thanks to time constraints.
Both Barnett and Mir have out-grappled Nogueira on the ground, and both may have a shot at Werdum somewhere down the road to establish the true heavyweight submission king. For now, long-time fans of the sport are licking their chops that the day has finally arrived where both men can tangle on the canvas.
Gleison Tibau is the takedown king when all stats are measured, as he holds the UFC record for best takedown defense and is in second all time for most takedowns landed in UFC history. Tibau's takedown defense stands at a 93.2 percent success rate.
That total is made even more impressive by the fact that Tibau has fought in over 19 UFC bouts. He has statistically outdone the likes of Georges St-Pierre, Yushin Okami and Jose Aldo in the category. Time and time again he proves that he rarely goes down unless he is the aggressor.
Tibau's 61 takedowns is still 15 short of Georges St-Pierre's record. However, given that he has never fought a five-round bout, the tally is still impressive.
So while Tibau's opponent, Jamie Varner, could defeat him by outboxing him, if the fight is to go to the ground, it will be because Tibau wants it there.
If you are a betting man who plays by the numbers, then you are pretty sure Clay Guida will be submitted by Chad “Money” Mendes at UFC 164. Guida has six split decisions in his UFC career. Each time his split-decision performances come in pairs, followed by a submission loss.
At UFC 72 Guida lost via split to Tyson Griffin, then he defeated Marcus Aurelio at UFC 74 via split. Guida followed up the splits by losing his next bout to Roger Heurta via rear-naked choke.
In 2009, Guida defeated Nate Diaz in UFC 94 while Diego Sanchez defeated him in Guida's next outing via split at The Ultimate Fighter: United States vs. United Kingdom Finale. Those bouts were followed by Guida tapping to a rear-naked choke slapped on by Kenny Florian.
Guida's last two fights against Gray Maynard and Hatsu Hioki were splits, with a loss and a win respectively. If there is good news to be had for Guida, it is that Mendes has won a mere 14 percent of his bouts via submission. That said, Roger Heurta had only 18 percent of his victories by way of submission when he faced Guida.
When it comes to strikes landed per minute, Jared Hamman has out-landed the likes of Donald Cerrone, Duan Ludwig and even Junior dos Santos. In fact, only three men in the UFC land more per minute than Hamman: Fabio Maldonado, Court McGee and UFC heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez.
Hamman has not had the best stint in the UFC, going 2-4 in six bouts, but it is not from lack of effort. He lands an average of 5.57 strikes per minute while inside the Octagon. The number is more important than simply showing he is active while standing. The average says that he pushes the pace and does his best to avoid being on his back. All of which bodes well for fans who like an exciting fighter.
Unfortunately for Hamman, he is once again facing a striker. That means his interest in trading so he can land strikes may work against him, just as it has in his last two outings.
Hamman is a fine example of the “live by the sword; die by the sword” mentality that so many fans love. But the mentality can wreck a career over time. Regardless, the stats will likely show a (T)KO at the end of his UFC 164 bout against Magnus Cedenblad. Hamman can only hope his work ethic and tenacity win out.