Dwyer Score: UFC 205- Eddie Alvarez vs. Conor McGregor
The greatest card the UFC has ever put together, at least on paper, is just around the corner. The event will see not one, not two, but three UFC titles on the line and is headlined by a truly momentous bout that could see history made.
In this column, I like to take a look at the general momentum of an event and the form of fighters on the card. I usually start this off by spotlighting the recent results of the two headliners in the main event, though considering the size of the event coming up, I’m compelled to take a look at all 3 title bouts.
In the night’s main event, featherweight champion Conor McGregor (20-3) will try to become the first man to hold 2 UFC titles simultaneously as he takes on lightweight champion Eddie Alvarez (28-4) for the 155 lbs belt. Looking at the above graphic, neither McGregor nor Alvarez have had many easy fights recently. Of the 5 different fighters shown above, 4 have held world titles at major MMA promotions and 3 of those are former UFC champions. Even McGregor’s loss to Nate Diaz was somewhat redeemed with a victory in an immediate rematch a few months later.
The co-main event of the evening will see Tyron Woodley (16-3) making his first title defence against rising contender Stephen Thompson (13-1). Of the 3 title fights on the card, this is the only one containing two fighters who share a common opponent in professional MMA. Thompson’s decision victory over Rory MacDonald earlier this year was as resounding as Woodley’s loss to MacDonald was in 2014.
Joanna Jędrzejczyk (12-0) will aim to successfully defend her strawweight title for the fourth time against compatriot Karolina Kowalkiewicz (10-0). Only Demetrious Johnson can boast more title defences amongst active UFC champions. These two women have actually met before as amateurs, back in Poland in 2012, where Jędrzejczyk was victorious, winning via submission due to a rear-naked choke.
The Dwyer Score
At every event, I calculate a ‘Dwyer Score’ for the card. It’s a simple way of assigning a numeric value to the momentum an event. I do this by assigning a figure to each fighter’s current streak. A fighter on a four fight win-streak contributes +4 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. If 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.
As you might guess, the larger pay-per-view events tend to have higher scores than Fight Night events, as fighters on longer winning streaks tend to be placed on bigger cards. Events that pit fighters at the top of their games against each other will score well, whilst events that fast-track fighters into main card slots or push too many immediate rematches will not. I believe this gives us an objective value for the card’s momentum that is immune to the hype of MMA promotion.
This graph below displays not only UFC 205’s Dwyer Score but also the average score for all events in 2016, the average score for strictly PPV events in 2016 and the average score for strictly non-PPV events in 2016, to help give some context as to how this event stacks up in the grand scheme of things.
UFC 205 scores extremely well with a huge +50. It is the highest scoring event of the year (UFC 198: Werdum vs. Miocic comes second with +43) and it is the second highest scoring event of all time (UFC 194: Aldo vs. McGregor lies in first place with +62). This score is also considerably more than twice that of the landmark UFC 200 event (+19) back in July.
There are some events in the list of all-time highest scoring events to the right that are somewhat top-heavy. UFC 197, for example, was hugely boosted by the inclusion of just two fighters; Jon Jones and Demetrious Johnson on the card, who accounted for +21 of a +39 event.
UFC 205, however, has no such luxuries. We’d need to combine the four highest scores on 205 to surpass what Jones and Mighty Mouse contributed together. The secret behind this huge score is consistency. A whole host of fighters contribute to the event’s average streak for an individual fighter of +2.08, at an event where just 5 of the 24 fighters are coming off a UFC defeat and, following the late withdrawal of Rashad Evans, nobody is entering the card off the back of more than 1 consecutive loss with the promotion.
This will the first event the UFC has ever held in New York City, and the first time the promotion has visited New York State since a visit to Buffalo for UFC 7 back in 1995. This absence is due to New York imposing a statewide ban on MMA in 1997 that would remain in place for almost 20 years.
Sheldon Silver, the former Speaker of the New York State Assembly, would routinely elect not to put the issue to the floor. Dana White has routinely alleged that the Las Vegas Culinary Union were pulling the strings behind this hold-up as a way of pressuring Lorenzo and Frank Fertitta (owners of the UFC at the time, as well as Station Casinos in Las Vegas) into allowing their chain of casinos to unionise.
To cut a long story short, Silver is now facing 12 years in prison and a $7 million fine after being convicted of unrelated federal corruption charges, and earlier this year New York overturned the ban on MMA. The UFC are celebrating its return from exodus with a visit to not just New York City, but the iconic Madison Square Garden.
Dana White announced last month that UFC 205 has already broken the all-time MSG gate record. This is an incredible achievement at such a prestigious venue, the home of the New York Knicks and host of three WrestleManias, Bill Clinton’s 1992 Presidential nomination, Lewis vs. Holyfield and Ali vs. Frazier, to name just a few.
This event will be a momentous one, and the UFC have succeeded in putting together a card which represents the stature of the occasion. It is, in my opinion, the greatest card the UFC has ever booked, and I can’t wait for this Saturday.