It’s been a tumultuous week for UFC 232. The event, originally planned for Las Vegas, has upped sticks and moved to Los Angeles, where we’ll see a card headlined by two of the most highly-anticipated fights of the year.
In the main event, Jon Jones (22-1 MMA, 16-1 UFC) will rematch Alexander Gustafsson (18-4 MMA, 10-4 UFC) for the newly vacated UFC light-heavyweight championship.
In the co-main, Cris Cyborg (20-1 MMA, 5-0 UFC) will defend her UFC women’s featherweight title against reigning UFC women’s bantamweight champion Amanda Nunes (16-4 MMA, 9-1 UFC).
This will be the fifth title 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 men in Saturday night’s main event:
Back in January 2015, Jones notched a five-round unanimous decision victory over longtime rival Daniel Cormier in what was the last defense of Jones’ light-heavyweight title reign. After seeing the title stripped due to a felony hit-and-run incident, Jones returned in a fight for the interim UFC light-heavyweight title, scoring a unanimous decision win over Ovince Saint Preux.
Jones’ most recent bout was a rematch against Cormier last July. The result originally went down as a third-round TKO victory for Jones, until his subsequent drugs test failure saw the result overturned to a No Contest and Cormier reinstated as UFC light-heavyweight champion.
Gustafsson rebounded from an October 2015 split-decision defeat to Cormier (Gustafsson is currently 0-2 in UFC title fights) with a three-round unanimous decision victory against Jan Błachowicz.
The Swede last fought in May 2017, scoring an impressive fifth-round KO against former title challenger Glover Teixeira.
Jones and Gustafsson have each fought just four times since March 2014. For some context, Donald Cerrone has competed seventeen times in the UFC across the same period.
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 Jones fared against any shared opponents and on the right, you’ll see Gustafsson’s results against the same men.
The two fighters share five common opponents throughout their careers; Matt Hamill, Vladimir Matyushenko, Maurício Rua, Glover Teixeira, and Daniel Cormier.
Both men scored clear victories over Matyushenko, Rua, and Teixeira. Hamill, who suffered a second-round TKO loss against Gustafsson, remains the only man to hold a win over Jones (on paper at least) following a controversial December 2009 disqualification.
Gustafsson came up short in a close decision loss to Cormier, whilst Jones is undefeated in two fights against the reigning UFC heavyweight and former light-heavyweight champion.
Now let’s take a look at the recent results of the two women in Saturday’s co-main event.
Cyborg followed a TKO win over Tonya Evinger with a five-round unanimous decision victory against former UFC bantamweight champion Holly Holm. Cyborg returned to action in March, scoring a first-round TKO win over Yana Kunitskaya.
The victory over Holm last December was the first time an opponent had lasted the distance with Cyborg since 2008.
Nunes has defended the UFC women’s bantamweight title on three occasions; sandwiching a split-decision win over Valentina Shevchenko in between TKO stoppages of Ronda Rousey and Raquel Pennington.
With a win on Saturday, Nunes would join Conor McGregor and Daniel Cormier as the only fighters in UFC history to simultaneously hold titles in two weight classes.
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 Nunes’ results against the same women.
Cyborg and Nunes share two common opponents; Vanessa Porto and Shayna Baszler.
Both women scored TKO victories over Baszler, whilst Cyborg had to settle for a decision victory over Porto (an opponent Nunes finished) in her first professional MMA victory back in November of 2005.
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 232: Jon Jones vs. Alexander Gustafsson II posts a strong score of +21.
This score ranks joint-5th out of all 39 events this year and 4th out of 2018’s 13 Pay-Per-View events.
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 +10.7 average for all events in the last twelve months and just pips the +20.2 average for PPV events in the same period.
Let’s take a look at exactly how this score breaks down:
The highest individual contributor to the score is Amanda Nunes (+7), followed by Cris Cyborg and Alexander Volkanovski (both +5).
The lowest individual scorer is UFC legend B.J. Penn (-5). A loss for Penn would see him join Hector Lombard as the only fighter in promotional history to lose six consecutive fights under the UFC banner.
Enjoy the fights!