The winner of the main event at UFC 206 between Max Holloway and Anthony Pettis on Saturday will walk away with an interim UFC featherweight title and a shot at newly crowned champion Jose Aldo. Both fighters are known for their dynamic striking abilities. However, there are key differences in their styles that are illustrated by their career statistics. The differences could turn out to be deciding factors on Saturday.
Significant strikes per minute
Both Pettis and Holloway have reputations as solid strikers. However, Holloway is much more active on the feet. In his UFC career, he has landed 5.61 significant strikes per minute. That more than double Pettis' rate of 2.54. Holloway is much more likely to engage in exchanges and brawls, while Pettis prefers to operate outside of punching range and pick his shots. If the Hawaiian is able to close that distance to initiate exchanges, he should have the advantage.
The difference in striking styles also comes across in the fighter's defensive numbers. Pettis absorbs 2.38 significant strikes per minute and avoids 57 percent of his opponents' attempts. Holloway has the advantage as he avoids 67 percent of his opponents' attempts. However, he has absorbed many more significant strikes per minute during his UFC run (3.76). If Pettis is able to maintain his type of distance, he should be able to avoid eating a ton of shots from Holloway.
Before the UFC moved this fight to the main event, it was scheduled for only 15 minutes. Now, it will be a 25-minute bout. Both fighters have similar average fight times, Holloway at 11:28 and Pettis at 11:07. However, a longer fight almost certainly favors Holloway. During his UFC/WEC career, Pettis has gone to decision seven times. In those bouts, he has a 2-5 record. Holloway has also gone to the judges' cards seven times, but he is 5-2 in those bouts.
Despite the highlight-reel kicks, Pettis finishes more fights via submission than any other method. In his UFC/WEC career, he has won six fights with submissions. He averages 1.2 submission attempts per 15 minutes, which double Holloway's, who averages 0.6 submission attempts per 15 minutes. Pettis might not have the most traditional guard game, but he is certainly always a threat to latch on a submission in scramble and finish a fight. However, that might not be the easiest task against Holloway, who has not been submitted since falling to Dustin Poirier in his UFC debut back in 2012.