This Saturday in Nashville, we might be looking at one of the most surprising main events in UFC history. Not many fighters headline a UFC event with a 2-2 record from just 4 UFC fights, especially when those 2 victories came against Chris Avila and Teruto Ishihara (UFC records of 0-2 and of 2-1-1, respectively).
That’s the position Artem Lobov (13-12-1 MMA, 2-2 UFC) finds himself in as he prepares to face Cub Swanson (24-7 MMA, 9-3 UFC) in the headline attraction of UFC Fight Night 108.
There’s no doubt that Lobov’s connection to UFC superstar and SBG teammate Conor McGregor has helped his UFC career, most notably when McGregor chose to recall Lobov to The Ultimate Fighter 22, despite a preliminary round loss that would normally see a fighter return home. The reprieve, however, was vindicated after 3 TKO/KO wins for Lobov produced one of the most memorable in-house runs in TUF history.
Swanson, who is coming off a thrilling victory over Doo Ho Choi in the 2016 Fight of the Year, has been consistently ranked just outside the UFC featherweight division’s top 5 for the better part of 5 years, but has never fought for a major title. Aside from a loss in his professional debut back in 2004 (a defeat he avenged in 2006), Swanson has only lost to fighters who have either fought for or held the UFC title.
Let’s have a look at the recent results of the two men in the main event:
Both men fought three times in 2016, with all 6 combined bouts going to the judges’ scorecards. Swanson was a perfect 3-0 against Hacran Dias, Tatsuya Kawajiri and Doo Ho Choi, whilst Lobov rebounded from a loss to Alex White with wins over Chris Avila and Teruto Ishihara.
In the co-main event, The Ultimate Fighter 1 winner Diego Sanchez (27-9 MMA, 16-9 UFC) takes on Al Iaquinta (12-3-1 MMA, 7-2 UFC). This will be Sanchez’s 26th UFC bout, putting him behind only Michael Bisping, Frank Mir and Tito Ortiz (all on 27) in terms of UFC appearances. It’s the first time Iaquinta, currently riding a 4-fight winning streak, has set foot in the cage since April 2015, following a 2-year hiatus and a foray into real-estate.
Joe Lauzon (27-12 MMA, 14-9 UFC) is currently tied with Nate Diaz for the most fight night bonuses in UFC history with 15. He’ll have the opportunity to take the sole lead when he faces Scotsman Stevie Ray (20-6 MMA, 4-1 UFC).
Sam Alvey (30-8 MMA, 7-3 UFC) is looking to make some history of his own, as he prepares to equal Donald Cerrone and Neil Magny’s record of 6 fights in a year.
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 Fight Night 108 checks in with a respectable score of +9. This ranks 10th out of 20 Fight Night events in the last year, and joint-26th of all 43 events in that same timeframe.
It’s not as impressive a score as we saw last week, and it will certainly pale in comparison to UFC 211’s upcoming score, but it’s still above the average score for a Fight Night event.
Here’s a look at how this score compares to other events’ scores over the past year:
It’s exactly in line with the average score for all non-PPV events (Fight Nights, TUF Finales and UFC on FOX cards), and higher than the +7.6 score for Fight Night cards.
Let’s take a look at exactly how this score breaks down:
The highest individual contributors to this week’s score are Al Iaquinta and Sam Alvey (both +4), with Cub Swanson (+3) just behind. The lowest scorer is Ovince Saint Preux (-3), following consecutive losses to Jon Jones, Jimi Manuwa and Volkan Oezdemir.
The greatest gulf in momentum can be found in the Thales Leites (-1) vs. Sam Alvey (+4) fight. Alvey is 4-0 in his last 4 fights, whilst Leites is 1-3. Alvey, Joe Lauzon and Marcos Rogério de Lima all have the opportunity to become the first male fighter to record 2 UFC victories in 2017.
There really is a lot to look forward to on this card, and hopefully that will translate into some entertaining fights this weekend. Here’s a sneak-peek for next time; UFC 211 currently has a Dwyer Score of +44, a score bettered by just 3 events in UFC history.