This Saturday, for the first time since December 2015, an undisputed champion will face off against an interim champion to unify a UFC title. There have been 7 such unification bouts in UFC history, with interim champions edging out their undisputed counterparts 4-3 overall.
If Max Holloway wants to join Randy Couture, Georges St-Pierre, Fabrício Werdum and Conor McGregor in the list of interim champions who dethroned undisputed champions in unification bouts, he’ll have to do what only one man has done in over a decade- defeat José Aldo.
Let’s take a look at the recent results of the two men in Saturday’s main event:
José Aldo (26-2 MMA, 8-1 UFC) has been relatively inactive as of late, competing just 3 times in the last 3 years. Aldo was recently reinstated as the undisputed featherweight champion after the man who had taken his belt, Conor McGregor, had the title stripped due to his inactivity at 145 lbs.
Aldo has never competed in the UFC without some sort of title (undisputed or interim) being on the line, consistently facing the best talent featherweight has had to offer. In fact, Max Holloway is the only man currently ranked in the top 5 at 145 lbs that Aldo doesn’t hold a win over.
Max Holloway (17-3 MMA, 13-3 UFC) is currently enjoying one of the longest winning streaks in UFC history- only 5 men have put together more consecutive victories since 1993 (Royce Gracie, Anderson Silva, Georges St-Pierre, Jon Jones and Demetrious Johnson).
In his last 3 fights, Holloway claimed two clear decision wins over Jeremy Stephens and Ricardo Lamas, before inflicting the first stoppage loss of Anthony Pettis’ career en route to winning the interim featherweight belt.
Here’s a look at some of the opponents Aldo and Holloway have shared throughout their careers. On the left of the graphic, you’ll see how Aldo fared against these common opponents, and on the right, you’ll see Holloway’s results against the same men.
Both men went 2-1 against their shared opponents, each defeating Cub Swanson and Ricardo Lamas but coming up short against Conor McGregor.
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 212 comes in with a relatively large Dwyer Score of +20. This score ranks 4th out of all 14 events, and 2nd of the 5 Pay-Per-View events, in 2017.
This isn’t just down to Max Holloway’s contribution of +10 (although that certainly helps), the score is also aided by a preliminary card where just 3 of 14 fighters featured are coming off a UFC defeat.
Here’s a look at how this score compares to other events’ scores over the past year:
UFC 212 does fall just short of the +20.5 average for PPV events in the last year, though it is still significantly above the +12.5 average for all events in that same timeframe.
Here’s a look at exactly how this score breaks down:
The highest individual contributor at UFC 212 is, of course, Max Holloway (+10). Karolina Kowalkiewicz, Nate Marquardt, Oluwale Bamgbose, Luan Chagas, Jim Wallhead and Marco Beltrán share the spoils for lowest score (all -1).
Outside of the headlining fight, former WSOF bantamweight champion Marlon Moraes makes his UFC debut against Raphael Assunção, whilst our co-main event sees two of the top strawweights in the world bid to put themselves back into title contention.
Hot prospect Paulo Borrachinha looks to build on his impressive debut in March, whilst on the other end of the spectrum, MMA legend Vitor Belfort looks set to call an end to his own UFC career after his bout with Nate Marquardt.
There’s no doubt that the main event is doing most of the heavy lifting here. It’s a huge fight, but it’s not supported by a particularly strong undercard in the way, for example, UFC 211 was. That said, José Aldo vs. Max Holloway is one of the best fights 2017 has seen thus far, and I’m really looking forward to seeing how it goes down.