Dwyer Score: UFC 208- Holly Holm vs. Germaine de Randamie
The UFC will introduce a new weight class for the first time in over 2 years on Saturday, though it’s still not clear exactly why.
When the UFC last introduced a new division, it essentially purchased the women’s strawweight roster of Invicta FC and placed them on a season of The Ultimate Fighter, with the winner of that tournament receiving the inaugural belt. Before that, the introduction of women’s bantamweight, and Ronda Rousey, saw huge commercial success and proved to be a pivotal moment in women’s MMA history.
Demetrious Johnson was crowned flyweight champion after coming out victorious in an eventful 4 man tournament, whilst Dominick Cruz and José Aldo were awarded their titles following the historic WEC merger.
The crowning of the UFC’s first women’s featherweight champion does not carry so much significance. There’s no tournament, no acquisition of another promotion, no TUF season, no long-standing gender barriers to be broken down. The UFC still hasn’t announced a single signing in the new division, let alone booked any other fights in the weight class. Holly Holm has never fought at featherweight in her MMA career, whilst de Randamie has competed there just twice, neither occasion inside the UFC Octagon.
Forgive me for sounding underwhelmed, but, I’m underwhelmed. In fairness, this clearly wasn’t Plan A. This was a belt meant for Cris Cyborg, whose USADA issues and looming potential suspension has severely hamstrung the introduction of this division.
Here’s a look at the recent form of the two women headlining the card:
Holm’s KO victory over Ronda Rousey might just be the most famous result in UFC history, but since then she’s lost two in a row, to Miesha Tate and Valentina Shevchenko.
Germaine de Randamie followed up a loss to current champion Amanda Nunes with two dominant victories over Larissa Pacheco and Anna Elmose.
Ultimately, I do believe we’ll eventually see this featherweight belt as a worthwhile addition to the UFC, despite its lackluster introduction. Holm has the opportunity to join B.J. Penn, Randy Couture and Conor McGregor in the list of fighters who have held UFC titles in multiple weight classes, and that has to be respected.
The Dwyer Score
Each event I calculate a ‘Dwyer Score’ for the card. It’s a simple way of assigning 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. A fighter on a two-fight losing streak
contributes -2 to the score. No Contests, Draws or bouts with other promotions reset 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.
For some context, here is a table which shows some of the highest-scoring events of all time.
The Dwyer Score for UFC 208 is +9. It’s not a terrible score but for a PPV card, it is low. Only one PPV event (UFC 203: Stipe Miocic vs. Alistair Overeem, +3) has scored lower in almost 2 years.
This score is considerably beneath the +24.5 average for PPV events over the last 12 months, as shown in the graph above. UFC 208’s main card (excluding all prelims) is the lowest scoring main card I’ve encountered in any PPV event.
Here is a breakdown of how each fighter contributes to this week’s score:
There are still several elite members of the UFC roster on this card, including arguably the greatest martial artist in the history of the sport.
Here’s hoping we get that sort of event where the quality of the individual fights makes up for what’s lacking in terms of wider contextual narratives. It certainly wouldn’t be the first time a card has surprised us.