This Saturday, the undefeated Liverpudlian Darren Till (17-0-1 MMA, 5-0-1 UFC) will attempt to become only the second British champion in UFC history.
But to match Michael Bisping’s 2016 feat, Till will have to dethrone Tyron Woodley (18-3-1 MMA, 8-2-1 UFC) – the most dominant UFC welterweight champion since Georges St-Pierre.
It took Woodley exactly 365 days to register the first 3 successful defenses of his title. Of the 20 champions in UFC history who have reached 3 successful defenses, only Frank Shamrock hit that mark faster (300 days) than Woodley, back in 1998.
A win for Till would see him join Cain Velasquez, Chris Weidman, Cody Garbrandt, Holly Holm, Joanna Jędrzejczyk, Khabib Nurmagomedov, Lyoto Machida, Mark Coleman, Randy Couture, Rashad Evans, Ronda Rousey and Tim Sylvia in the list of fighters who remained undefeated on their way to claiming a UFC title.
In the co-main event, the inaugural UFC women’s flyweight champion, Nicco Montaño (4-2 MMA, 1-0 UFC), will attempt the first defense of her belt against Valentina Shevchenko (15-3 MMA, 4-2 UFC).
Let’s take a look at the recent results of the two men in Saturday night’s main event:
Woodley fought Stephen Thompson to a majority draw in November 2016, winning the Fight of the Night award for UFC 205. His next two fights were somewhat mundane affairs; a majority decision win in a rematch against Thompson and a unanimous decision win over Demian Maia.
Till followed a unanimous decision win over Bojan Veličković with a first-round TKO over the man who holds the (joint) record for the most wins in UFC history, Donald Cerrone. Till’s last fight, in May, was a unanimous decision victory over Stephen Thompson- a tight decision that 22 out of 25 polled media members disagreed with.
Till missed weight for the second time in his last four fights before his win over Thompson. As this is a title fight, there is no one-pound allowance, meaning Till, who previously missed the non-championship welterweight limit of 171 lbs. (by 5 lbs., then 3.5 lbs.) will need to weigh in at 170 lbs. or less.
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 Woodley fared against any shared opponents and on the right, you’ll see Till’s results against the same men.
The two men share just one common opponent; the aforementioned Stephen ‘Wonderboy’ Thompson. Both men’s victories over Thompson were fairly similar- close decisions that saw few strikes thrown by both fighters and Thompson being knocked down in the fifth round.
Let’s take a look at the recent results of the two women in Saturday night’s co-main event:
Montaño followed a fourth-round TKO victory over Jamie Milanowski with a five-round unanimous decision loss to Julia Avila last January. Montaño was then brought into the UFC as the promotion introduced its women’s flyweight division via The Ultimate Fighter.
Montaño won the 26th season of the show, with her tournament win culminating in a unanimous decision victory over Roxanne Modafferi that saw her crowned the UFC’s first women’s flyweight champion.
Shevchenko defeated Julianna Peña via second-round submission last January before dropping a split-decision to Amanda Nunes in a fight for the UFC bantamweight title- a verdict that 12 out of 22 polled media members disagreed with.
After dropping down to flyweight, Shevchenko defeated Priscilla Cachoeira via second-round submission. Shevchenko out-landed her opponent by 230 strikes to 3 in a fight that was criticized as a severe mismatch.
Montaño and Shevchenko share no 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. 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 228: Tyron Woodley vs. Darren Till posts a strong score of +20.
This score ranks joint-3rd out of all 26 events in 2018 and joint-2nd of the 9 Pay-Per-View events this year.
Here’s a look at how this score compares to other events’ scores over the past year:
As you can see, this score far exceeds the +10.1 average for all events in the last twelve months, though it does fall short of the +22 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 Darren Till (+4), with Zabit Magomedsharipov, Tatiana Suarez and Cody Stamann (all +3) just behind.
The lowest individual scorer is Jim Miller (-4), who will make history on Saturday night as he becomes the first fighter to reach 30 fights with the UFC.
A loss for Miller would see him join Andrei Arlovski, B.J. Penn, Hector Lombard, Josh Burkman, Josh Koscheck, Leonard Garcia, Rashad Evans, Steve Cantwell and Takanori Gomi in the list of fighters who have lost five consecutive fights whilst competing in the UFC.
Enjoy the fights!