It may not be the main event the UFC had planned, but it’s a fantastic fight nonetheless.
After UFC middleweight champion Robert Whittaker pulled out last month due to illness, Yoel Romero (12-2 MMA, 8-1 UFC) stepped in to face Luke Rockhold (16-3 MMA, 6-2 UFC) for the interim belt.
This will be the 15th interim title introduced by the UFC in promotional history. The first 7 were introduced over a span of 21 years, whilst the latter 7 were introduced over just 3 years.
Let’s take a look at the recent results of the two men in Saturday night’s main event:
Romero followed a controversial split-decision victory over Ronaldo ‘Jacaré’ Souza (a decision that only 2 of 17 polled media members agreed with) with an emphatic third-round flying knee KO win over former champion Chris Weidman.
The Cuban then tasted defeat for the first time in his UFC career with a unanimous decision loss to Robert Whittaker in a fight for the interim UFC middleweight title. Whittaker would later be promoted to undisputed champion after Georges St-Pierre vacated the title.
Rockhold claimed that same UFC middleweight title back in December 2015 with a fourth-round TKO victory over Chris Weidman that arguably should have been stopped a lot earlier than it was.
He then lost the belt after a first-round KO loss to Michael Bisping- one of the greatest upsets in UFC title history- before rebounding with a second-round TKO victory over David Branch last September.
Here’s a look at how these two fighters fared when competing against common opponents shared throughout their careers. On the left of the graphic, you’ll see how Romero fared against any shared opponents and on the right, you’ll see Rockhold’s results against the same men.
Romero and Rockhold share four common opponents throughout their careers; Tim Kennedy, Lyoto Machida, Ronaldo Souza and Chris Weidman, with both men going 4-0 against their shared opponents.
Each man finished Machida, defeated Souza by decision and scored a TKO/KO stoppage over Weidman. Romero defeated Kennedy via TKO whilst Rockhold had to settle for a decision win.
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 above-right displays some of the highest-scoring events of all time, to help give some context to this score.
UFC 221: Yoel Romero vs. Luke Rockhold checks in with a score of +15.
This score ranks joint-16th out of 41 events in the last year and 11th out of 14 Pay-Per-View events in that same time frame.
Here’s a look at how this score compares to other events’ scores over the past year:
As you can see, this score exceeds the +11.1 average for all events in the last twelve months, but falls short of the +23.6 average for Pay-Per-View events in the same period.
Let’s take a look at exactly how this score breaks down:
The highest individual contributor to this score is Li Jingliang (+4), with Jeremy Kennedy, Alexander Volkanovski and José Alberto Quiñónez (all +3) close behind.
The lowest scorer on the card is Ross Pearson (-4). A loss for Pearson would see him join Andrei Arlovski, B.J. Penn, Josh Koscheck, Leonard Garcia and Steve Cantwell in the list of fighters who have lost 5 consecutive fights whilst competing under the UFC banner.
Enjoy the fights!