1. Size Matters
Heavyweights are more than twice as likely as the smaller divisions to score a knockdown per landed head strike.
Bucking the trend is John Dodson, who literally punches above his weight by having a higher knockdown rate (6.25%) than the heavyweight average (6.11%).
2. Speed Saves
Larger fighters have better striking accuracy overall, while smaller fighters are more elusive and harder to hit.
Former UFC Heavyweight Champion Junior dos Santos lands a brain rattling 35% of his power head strikes, while UFC Flyweight Champ Demetrious Johnson only lands 23%.
3. Everyone Is a Head Hunter
When fighters faceoff in a distance striking position, more than 80% of all strikes thrown are aimed at the head, which cause 95% of standing (T)KOs.
Joe Lauzon takes headhunting to the extreme by aiming 96% of his standing strikes at the head of his opponents.
4. To Strike or Counter-Strike, That Is the Question
Counter-strikers, or fighters who tend to let opponents dictate pace, tend to have higher than average knockdown rates. Higher paced strikers tend to win more decisions.
Lower paced strikers with big power include Pat Barry, Roy Nelson, Tyron Woodley, and Robbie Lawler.
A general trend that is true for all weight classes is that higher volume fighters tend to be less accurate in their power striking, while counter-strikers are generally above average in accuracy.
High-paced but inaccurate fighters include Carlos Condit, Jake Shields, Sam Stout, and Dominick Cruz.
6. Jabbing Through Fatigue
In every UFC weight class, head jabs become more accurate in later rounds as fighters become fatigued and more willing to eat short punches. Power strikes, however, become slightly less accurate on average. One takeaway is that you can take advantage when your opponent is tired, by snapping the jab.
Georges St-Pierre maintains jab accuracy that is a ridiculously high 42%.
7. Target Matters
Accuracy goes down for strikes aimed at the head. On average, more than 70% of all leg kicks and more than 60% of all body shots land on target. But only 25% of all head strikes will ever connect.
Paul Kelly would rather guard his head from the powerful spinning back kick of Dennis Siver. Bad idea.
8. The Few, the Proud, the Leg Kickers
On average, 10% of all standing strikes are aimed at the legs, but only six fighters in UFC history have TKO’d an opponent via leg kicks.
Edson Barboza has won by TKO via leg kicks twice in the UFC Octagon.
9. The Old One-Two
When fighters strike the head of their opponents, the ratio of jabs to power strikes is almost perfectly even in the long run. Those who swing for the fences more often are not only less accurate, but also tend to get outworked by opponents.
Bucking the trend is Jimi Manuwa, who throws a high mix of power strikes, but still manages to outwork opponents and maintain good accuracy.
10. Fighter Evolution
MMA fighters have been increasing their striking output year after year in the UFC, and modern fighters throw far more strikes as well as a greater share of Significant Strikes than competitors in the early years of the UFC.
The new Flyweight division averages 10.5 strike attempts per minute, which is 50% higher than the UFC average one decade ago.