For the second time in as many Pay-Per-View events, an injury to a headliner has forced the UFC to scramble for a new main event.
Cris Cyborg (19-1 MMA, 4-0 UFC) has stepped in on short notice to put her UFC women’s featherweight title on the line against former Invicta FC bantamweight champion Yana Kunitskaya (10-3 MMA, 0-0 UFC).
This will be the fourth fight in the short history of the UFC women’s 145 lbs. division and thus far, aside from Cyborg, every woman to contest for the title has been stepping up from bantamweight to do so.
Let’s take a look at the recent results of the two women in Saturday night’s main event:
Cyborg followed back-to-back TKO victories over Lina Länsberg and Tonya Evinger with a unanimous decision victory over former UFC women’s bantamweight champion Holly Holm at the end of last year.
Holm was the first fighter to last the distance with Cyborg since 2008, with 12 other women all succumbing to TKO/KO stoppages since then. No one has defeated Cyborg since her professional MMA debut in May 2005.
In November 2016, a refereeing error saw Kunitskaya’s first-round submission victory over Evinger overturned to a No Contest by the Missouri Athletic Commission, leaving her Invicta FC bantamweight title win annulled.
Kunitskaya faced Evinger in a rematch a few months later, losing via second-round submission, before scoring a unanimous decision victory against Raquel Pa’aluhi in August to claim the title after Evinger had vacated it to join the UFC.
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 Cyborg fared against any shared opponents and on the right, you’ll see Kunitskaya’s results against the same women.
The two women share just one common opponent; the aforementioned Tonya Evinger. Cyborg scored a third-round TKO victory over the former Invicta FC bantamweight champion last July, whilst Kunitskaya followed a No Contest with a second-round submission loss last March.
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 222: Cris Cyborg vs. Yana Kunitskaya checks in with a decent score of +15.
This score ranks joint-16th out of 41 events in the last year and joint-11th out of 14 Pay-Per-View events in that period.
Here’s a look at how this score compares to other events’ scores over the past year:
As you can see, this score beats the +11 average for all events in the last 12 months, although it does fall some way short of the +24.1 average for Pay-Per-View events in that same time frame.
Let’s take a look at exactly how this score breaks down:
The highest individual contributor to the score is Brian Ortega (+5), just ahead of Cris Cyborg and Pedro Munhoz (both +4) and Ketlen Vieira (+3).
The lowest individual scorer is Hector Lombard (-4), who needs a win to avoid joining Andrei Arlovski, B.J. Penn, Josh Burkman, 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!