Anderson Silva, in his prime, was one of the greatest martial artists of all time. He held the UFC middleweight title for 2,457 days between 2006 and 2013, winning 16 consecutive UFC bouts, and making 10 successful defenses of his title.
One of those records, however, is under serious threat. Demetrious ‘Mighty Mouse’ Johnson (25-2-1 MMA, 13-1-1 UFC) is looking to tie Silva’s all-time record for successful UFC title defenses in what could be a historic night this Saturday.
Johnson currently boasts 9 successful defenses of his own, a milestone he reached in 1,533 days, significantly quicker than either Anderson Silva (1,778 days) or Georges St-Pierre (2,037 days) managed. ‘Mighty Mouse’ can count 5 stoppage victories amongst those 9 defenses (2 TKO/KOs and 3 submissions) compared to Silva’s 7 and GSP’s 1.
The man looking to spoil the party is Brazilian flyweight Wilson Reis (22-6 MMA, 6-2 UFC). This fight had initially been booked for UFC 201 last July, before a late injury to Johnson saw those plans scrapped.
At that time, Wilson Reis was 1-1 in his last two fights, coming off a unanimous decision victory over Dustin Ortiz. This seemingly uninspiring candidate for a title fight was seen as a by-product of Johnson’s dominance at flyweight, where every other contender had already been defeated (sometimes twice) by the champion.
Reis’ position as number one contender looks a lot stronger today. He’s now riding a three-fight winning streak, and it doesn’t hurt that a couple of fighters previously ranked above him have since left the promotion.
Let’s take a look at the recent results of the two men in Saturday’s main event:
Johnson’s last three fights include a second victory over now-bantamweight John Dodson, a first-round TKO win over the previously undefeated Henry Cejudo, and a surprisingly tough test against The Ultimate Fighter 24 winner Tim Elliott.
Reis’ last three opponents (Dustin Ortiz, Hector Sandoval, and Ulka Sasaki) have a combined UFC record of 8-8. There’s no doubt that Johnson has consistently faced a much higher level of competition throughout his UFC career.
Usually, I like to take a look at the common opponents both parties have shared throughout their careers, but surprisingly, considering both fighters have competed a combined 23 times in the UFC’s bantamweight and flyweight divisions, they have no shared opponents.
In Saturday’s co-main event, Rose Namajunas faces Michelle Waterson in a bout that will surely determine the next challenger for Joanna Jędrzejczyk’s strawweight title. Namajunas saw a close defeat snap a three-fight winning streak in her last fight, whilst Waterson comes into this bout on the back of two consecutive submission victories.
Ronaldo Souza takes on Robert Whittaker in a fight between two top-ranked middleweights. Given the current logjam at the top of the 185 lbs division, it’s hard to call this one a title-eliminator, but in terms of rankings, there’s no better fight booked at middleweight right now.
The Dwyer Score
Each event I calculate a ‘Dwyer Score’ for the card. It’s a simple way of giving a numeric value to the momentum of any one event. I do this by assigning a figure to each fighter’s current streak; a fighter on a five-fight winning streak contributes +5 to an event’s score, whilst a fighter on a two-fight losing streak contributes -2 to the score. No Contests, Draws, or bouts with other promotions set your streak to 0. When you tally up the scores for every fighter on a card (only counting UFC fights), you get a total which gives you an idea of the combined momentum of fighters heading into a specific event. To the right, you’ll see a list of some of the highest-scoring events of all time to help give some context to these scores.
UFC on FOX 24 checks in with a huge Dwyer Score of +30. Only 12 events in UFC history have bettered this score, placing this event in the top 3.6% of the 396 events since the promotion began in 1993.
It’s the top score of 2017 so far, and the highest score we’ve seen since UFC 205: Alvarez vs. McGregor (+46).
Here’s a look at how this score compares to other events’ scores over the past year:
As you can see, this score far surpasses the average for UFC on FOX events, as well as the average score for PPV cards.
Is this score benefited by the inclusion of Demetrious Johnson and his 11-fight winning streak? Absolutely. Is that all this card has to offer? Absolutely not.
Let’s take a look at exactly how this score breaks down:
The greatest individual streak on this week’s card belongs to, of course, Demetrious Johnson (+11), ahead of Robert Whittaker (+6) in second place. Bobby Green, Louis Smolka, and Aljamain Sterling (all -2) find themselves at the bottom end of that scale.
The quartet of Wilson Reis, Ronaldo Souza, Aljamain Sterling, and Augusto Mendes are the first male fighters to fight twice in 2017. The first fighter to do so was Cynthia Calvillo last week (UFC 209 and UFC 210).
We have Roy Nelson, Jeremy Stephens, the UFC debut of Tom Duquesnoy, and Tim Elliott vs. Louis Smolka to look forward to as well. This card has a huge amount going for it, and I’m excited to see if it can live up to those expectations.