This Saturday, the UFC returns to action with what is, on paper, one of the strongest cards of the year so far.
Headlining the event, UFC middleweight champion Robert Whittaker (19-4 MMA, 10-2 UFC) will attempt to defend his title for the first time when he faces familiar foe Yoel Romero (13-2 MMA, 9-1 UFC).
In the co-main event, former UFC lightweight champion Rafael dos Anjos (28-9 MMA, 17-7 UFC) will take on Colby Covington (13-1 MMA, 8-1 UFC) to crown a new interim UFC welterweight champion.
Firstly, let’s take a look at the recent results of the two men in Saturday night’s main event:
Whittaker followed a first-round TKO win over Derek Brunson with a second-round TKO over Ronaldo ‘Jacaré’ Souza last April. In Whittaker and Romero’s first bout, last July, Whittaker defeated Romero via unanimous decision to claim the interim UFC middleweight title.
Currently enjoying an eight-fight UFC winning streak that stretches back to 2014, Whittaker has won four fight night bonuses in his last three bouts.
Romero followed a third-round flying-knee KO over former UFC middleweight champion Chris Weidman with the aforementioned unanimous decision loss to Whittaker last July. Unlike Whittaker, Romero has fought since their first bout, scoring another third-round KO over a former UFC middleweight champion when he beat Luke Rockhold in February.
This rematch on Saturday could have been the 9th unification bout (undisputed champion vs. interim champion) in UFC history; however Romero missed weight in his victory over Rockhold and was thus ineligible for the interim belt that was originally on the line.
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 Whittaker fared against any shared opponents and on the right, you’ll see Romero’s results against the same men.
Both men are a perfect 3-0 when competing against their shared opponents. Romero notched decision wins over Brad Tavares and Ronaldo Souza (the latter win not without controversy) and a third-round TKO over Derek Brunson. Romero’s last six stoppage victories have all came in the third round.
Whittaker recorded first-round TKO/KO victories over Tavares and Brunson and a second-round TKO win over Souza, with all three victories coming across a span of less than 2 years.
Let’s take a look at the recent results of the two men in Saturday night’s co-main event.
Dos Anjos is 3-0 as a welterweight in the UFC, having sandwiched a first-round submission win over Neil Magny in-between unanimous decision victories over former Strikeforce welterweight champion Tarec Saffiedine and former UFC welterweight champion Robbie Lawler.
Covington has recorded three consecutive unanimous decision victories, with those wins coming over Bryan Barberena, Dong Hyun Kim and Demian Maia.
Dos Anjos and Covington share no common opponents throughout their 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. Only UFC results are considered and a fighter coming off a no-contest, a draw, or a bout with another promotion has a streak of 0. 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 225: Robert Whittaker vs. Yoel Romero II checks in with a decent score of +15.
This score ranks joint-13th out of 42 events in the last year and joint-10th out of 13 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 +9.4 average for all events in the last twelve months, though it does fall short of the +23.8 average for Pay-Per-View events in that same period.
The highest individual contributor to the score is Robert Whittaker (+8), ahead of Joseph Benavidez (+6) and Colby Covington (+5).
The lowest scorer is Rashad Evans (-4), who needs a win to avoid joining Andrei Arlovski, B.J. Penn, Hector Lombard, Josh Burkman, Josh Koscheck, Leonard Garcia, Steve Cantwell and Takanori Gomi in the list of fighters who have lost 5 consecutive fights whilst competing under the UFC banner.
Excluding fighters with one UFC victory or less, Holly Holm, who faces Megan Anderson on the main card, holds the all-time UFC record for the most title shots per UFC victories, with three title shots from four wins.
Charles Oliveira, who faces Clay Guida on the prelims, has been competing at lightweight for over a year after failing to make weight in 5 out of 13 attempted featherweight weigh-ins (38%).
Enjoy the fights!