Update posted at the bottom of this page following Ray Borg’s late withdrawal from the card
This Saturday, the UFC returns to Pay-Per-View action for the first time since July with a card headlined by two title fights- one of which contains arguably the pound-for-pound greatest fighter in the world today.
A win this weekend for flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson (26-2-1 MMA, 14-1-1 UFC) will take him clear of Anderson Silva’s all-time UFC record of 10 successful title defenses and extend his current winning streak to 13 fights.
To claim the sole record, Johnson will have to defeat Ray Borg (11-2 MMA, 5-2 UFC), the Jackson Wink MMA prospect who only turned 24 last month. Borg has had issues making weight in recent fights and has only recorded one victory at flyweight in the last 3 and a half years.
Let’s take a look at the recent results of the two men in Saturday night’s main event:
Johnson followed an emphatic first-round TKO of Henry Cejudo with a decision victory over Tim Elliott that, whilst conclusive, came a lot tougher than many had anticipated. Just when it looked like Johnson had shown a weakness, he put on arguably the most dominant performance of his career with a third-round submission of BJJ black-belt Wilson Reis in a fight where Johnson landed 135 strikes compared to Reis’ 18.
Borg rebounded from a decision loss to the extremely talented, yet frustratingly inconsistent, Justin Scoggins with a dominant win over Louis Smolka, who was ranked 6th in the world this time last year. He followed that impressive performance with a win over perennial top-5 flyweight Jussier Formiga in March.
In the co-main event, women’s bantamweight champion Amanda Nunes (14-4 MMA, 7-1 UFC) puts her belt on the line against Valentina Shevchenko (14-2 MMA, 3-1 UFC) in a rematch of their March 2016 bout.
This bout was originally planned for UFC 213 in July, but a last minute battle with chronic sinusitis led to Nunes pulling out of the bout. Shevchenko has since accused Nunes of backing out of the fight strategically after cutting too much weight in the final week of preparation.
Let’s take a look at the recent results of the two women in Saturday night’s co-main event:
After defeating Shevchenko at UFC 196, Nunes went on to beat Miesha Tate for the UFC women’s bantamweight title, then defended that strap in a vicious TKO win over Ronda Rousey last December. One more stoppage victory would see Nunes overtake Rousey for the all-time record at women’s bantamweight.
Shevchenko rebounded from the loss to Nunes with two wins of her own, defeating Holly Holm and Julianna Peña, with both victories coming in high-profile UFC on FOX main events. This will be the first UFC women’s bantamweight title fight in history that does not contain either Miesha Tate or Ronda Rousey.
Neither Nunes and Shevchenko nor Johnson and Borg share any common opponents throughout their professional MMA careers.
The Dwyer Score
Each event I calculate a ‘Dwyer Score’ for the card. It essentially gives a numeric value to the momentum of fighters competing at 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. A fighter coming off a No Contest, a draw, or a bout with another promotion has a streak of 0, and only UFC results are considered. When you tally up the scores for every fighter on a card, you get a total for the event, the ‘Dwyer Score.’ This score does not claim to predict or measure the quality or excitement of any one card, but it does give you an idea of the general momentum of fighters heading into a specific event. The graphic to the right displays some of the highest-scoring events of all time, to help give some context to this score.
UFC 215 has a strong Dwyer Score of +18. This ranks in 7th place of the 25 events in 2017 thus far, and 4th of the 8 Pay-Per-View events.
Here’s a look at how this score compares to other events’ scores over the past year:
This score is well above the average for all events in the last year (+12.2), yet slightly below the average for strictly Pay-Per-View events in the same timeframe (+21.5).
Let’s take a look at exactly how this score breaks down:
The highest individual contributor on the card is, of course, Demetrious Johnson (+12), with fellow champion Amanda Nunes (+5) in second. The lowest scorer on the card is former title contender Gilbert Melendez (-3), with Jeremy Stephens, Henry Cejudo and Mitch Clarke all tied on -2.
Borg and Shevchenko will be joining 7 other fighters who have fought for a UFC title at UFC 215, whilst the main card boasts 3 current or former UFC champions.
Whilst the unfortunate scrapping of the Francis Ngannou-Junior dos Santos fight has left a 500lbs void in the main card, UFC 215 is still a top quality event highlighted by two title bouts and one of the greatest fighters of all time.
Update- Unfortunately, Ray Borg has been forced to withdraw from Saturday’s fight due to a reported illness, meaning Demetrious Johnson will have to wait for his chance to claim the all-time UFC title defense record.
As a result of losing Demetrious Johnson (+12) and Ray Borg (+2), The Dwyer Score for this event drops from +18 to +4.