This Saturday, the UFC returns to action with two world titles on the line.
In the main event, light-heavyweight champion Jon Jones (23-1 MMA, 17-1 UFC) looks to record his ninth career title-defense against Anthony Smith (31-13 MMA, 7-3 UFC).
The 64 days between Jones’ last fight and this Saturday makes this the quickest turnaround for a UFC champion since Ronda Rousey competed just 57 days after defeating Miesha Tate in 2013.
In the co-main event, Tyron Woodley (19-3-1 MMA, 9-2-1 UFC) puts his welterweight title on the line against Kamaru Usman (14-1 MMA, 9-0 UFC).
A victory for Usman would see him join Anderson Silva, Jon Jones, Max Holloway, Georges St-Pierre, Demetrious Johnson, Tony Ferguson, Khabib Nurmagomedov and Royce Gracie in the list of fighters who have recorded ten consecutive UFC victories.
Let’s take a look at the last three results of the two men in Saturday night’s main event:
After having his undisputed title stripped following a felony hit-and-run incident, Jones returned from suspension to claim the interim UFC light-heavyweight title in a unanimous decision win over Ovince Saint Preux. A positive drugs test then saw Jones stripped of the interim title and handed a one-year suspension from USADA.
Jones returned to action in a rematch against rival Daniel Cormier in July 2017. The result originally went down as a third-round TKO victory for Jones, until another subsequent drugs test failure saw the result overturned to a No Contest and Cormier reinstated as UFC light-heavyweight champion.
Jones returned from his third suspension in December against Alexander Gustafsson (the man who had given Jones the toughest test of his career back in 2013), winning the fight via third-round TKO to claim the UFC light-heavyweight title that Cormier had vacated.
Smith is a perfect 3-0 as a light-heavyweight in the UFC, following back-to-back first-round knockouts over two former UFC light-heavyweight champions, Rashad Evans and Maurício ‘Shogun’ Rua, with a third-round submission win over former title contender Volkan Oezdemir in a breakthrough 2018.
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 Smith’s results against the same men.
The men share two common opponents; the aforementioned former UFC light-heavyweight champions Rashad Evans and Maurício Rua.
Jones first claimed the UFC light-heavyweight title following a third-round TKO victory over Rua in 2011 and made the third successful defense of his title in a unanimous decision victory over former training partner Rashad Evans in 2012.
Smith defeated both Evans and Rua via first-round KO in a combined 2 minutes and 22 seconds in fights that took place just 43 days apart.
Let’s take a look at the last three results of the two men in Saturday night’s co-main event:
Woodley posted back-to-back decision victories over Stephen Thompson and Demian Maia in two similarly uneventful affairs back in 2017. Of 73 champions in UFC history, only one (Frank Shamrock, back in 1998) reached three successful title defenses quicker than Woodley.
There was nothing uneventful about Woodley’s fourth title defense, where he dropped Darren Till before finishing him with a D’Arce choke in the second round.
Usman’s last three fights have all came by way of unanimous decision, with The Nigerian Nightmare picking up wins over Emil Weber Meek, Demian Maia and Rafael dos Anjos in 2018.
Only Georges St-Pierre has ever recorded more than Usman’s current nine consecutive victories in the UFC welterweight division.
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 Usman’s results against the same men.
The men share just one common opponent; Demian Maia.
Both Woodley and Usman utilized their superior wrestling to nullify Maia en route to a five-round unanimous decision victory, with their two wins over the Brazilian coming less than a year apart.
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 235: Jon Jones vs. Anthony Smith posts a strong score of +24.
This score ranks 5th out of all 38 events in the last year, or 4th out of 12 Pay-Per-View events in the 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 far exceeds the +11.8 average for all events in the last twelve months, as well as the +20.3 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 the score is Kamaru Usman (+9), ahead of Zabit Magomedsharipov and Alejandro Pérez (both +4).
The lowest scorers are Tecia Torres and Cody Garbrandt (both -2) and just one fighter, Ben Askren, is making their promotional debut on this card.
Enjoy the fights!