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Zuffa Statistical Folly: Leonard Garcia vs Roy Nelson for the Title of Top UFC Punching Bag

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via cdn1.sbnation.com

Zuffa's recent announcement that Roy Nelson has now achieved a place in the UFC's record books (albeit for an unfortunate accomplishment) as the fighter to have absorbed the highest number of significant strikes in the UFC got me thinking: who previously held the record before Roy had the courtesy to give Stipe Miocic the most lucrative pad-striking workout he can likely hope to have in his career?

I'm not sure why (though I theorize it's from, you know, watching all his fights), but the name "Leonard Garcia" was instantly manifested from the depths of my experience as an ardent fan of MMA. I decided to test this idea by visiting the website of the fine folks over at FightMetric, the official provider of statistics for UFC contests.

According to FightMetric's online database, Roy Nelson has indeed absorbed 437 significant strikes across 10 UFC bouts. This information can be extrapolated here. This perceptively high number is primarily due to his fights against Junior Dos Santos (130 sig. strikes absorbed), Fabricio Werdum (91 sig. strikes) and the recent loss to Stipe Miocic (106 sig. strikes), which account for 327 of the 437 significant strikes he has absorbed during his UFC tenure. That means that in 7 of his 10 UFC bouts, he has only absorbed 110 sig. strikes, or an average of 15 strikes per bout. While the fortitude of Roy's chin cannot really be argued at this point, the stats seem to indicate that Roy really only becomes a "human punching bag" when he faces inherently superior fighters, who can't find a way to finish him due to his ability to withstand a prolonged beating.

While this ability to absorb punishment is unusual, and it should be noted that Nelson is absorbing significant strikes thrown by heavyweights, the number of significant strikes he has absorbed pales in comparison to a recent UFC departure, the famed Leonard Garcia. Yes, I know, many of you thought the UFC and Leonard Garcia had parted ways forever, but if the available data is correct, he may always have a place (of some sort) in the company.

According to FightMetric, which again, is the UFC's official statistics provider (and presumably the body who's data is used to establish the UFC's statistical records), Leonard Garcia beat Roy's total number of significant strikes... by a long shot (which can be examined here). The data reveals that across 9 fights in the UFC, Leonard Garcia has absorbed a whopping total of 627 sig. strikes, surpassing Nelson's supposed record by 190 sig. strikes. Now, Garcia was finished by submission in his fight against Jung Chan-Sung (that's right, I didn't anglicize it), but 1.) Dana White specifically said "Roy Nelson broke a UFC record tonight: 437 significant strikes absorbed without being knocked out," and didn't indicate that the record was only for heavyweight bouts, and 2.) even if you discard Jung fight, that would only take away 30 of the 627 sig. strikes absorbed.

Did FightMetric make a miscalculation? Did the UFC levy the award upon Nelson due to some sort of prolonged spite against him? Does it even matter? I'd say that, given the lack of importance placed on detailed statistical metrics by most fans of the sport, it probably matters about as much as who is and isn't placed in the UFC Hall of Fame. It's nothing but a fun little factoid, and an indicative lesson regarding the internal levying of "UFC records" by Zuffa.

All hail the UFC's rightful Punching Bag King, Leonard Garcia.

(Honorable mention: BJ Penn - 905 sig. strikes absorbed across 22 UFC bouts. Ineligible due to 3rd round TKO finish loss to Matt Hughes at UFC 63, and 4th round TKO finish via his corner telling the doctor to stop the fight at UFC 94).

*It has been brought to my attention that Roy Nelson's record was for the UFC's heavyweight division only. The sources I was able to obtain at the time I wrote the post did not yield this information. Thank you all in the comments for bringing this to light.

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