For the first time in UFC history, two interim champions will be crowned on one night.
Reigning UFC featherweight champion Max Holloway (20-3 MMA, 16-3 UFC) steps up to lightweight to face Dustin Poirier (24-5 MMA, 16-4 UFC) for the interim lightweight title in a rematch of their February 2012 bout.
Holloway and Poirier were just 20 and 23 years old, respectively, at the time of their first meeting, with Poirier coming out victorious via first-round submission.
In the co-main event, Kelvin Gastelum (15-3 MMA, 10-3 UFC) faces Israel Adesanya (16-0 MMA, 5-0 UFC) for the interim middleweight championship.
This will be the fifth time in UFC history that two interim champions have reigned simultaneously, whilst the UFC has never had three interim champions reigning at the same time.
Let’s take a look at the last three results of the two men in Saturday night’s main event:
Holloway followed back-to-back third-round TKO victories over José Aldo with a fourth-round TKO stoppage over Brian Ortega in December. Holloway has picked up three performance bonuses in his last three fights.
The Hawaiian is one of five interim champions in UFC history to successfully unify the title against an undisputed champion, doing so against Aldo in June 2017.
Like Holloway, Poirier has won his last three fights via TKO stoppage, picking up wins against two former UFC champions in Anthony Pettis and Eddie Alvarez and a former WSOF champion in Justin Gaethje.
Poirier, whose fight against Gaethje won many publication’s 2018 Fight of the Year prize, has earned the Fight of the Night bonus in three of his last five bouts. The two fights that didn’t pick up the award (his two contests against Alvarez) could have easily done so on another night.
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 Holloway fared against any shared opponents and on the right, you’ll see Poirier’s results against the same men.
The two men share four common opponents; Conor McGregor, Akira Corassani, Cub Swanson and Anthony Pettis.
Both men scored KO/TKO stoppages over Corassani and Pettis and suffered losses against McGregor.
Holloway secured a third-round submission win over Swanson in April 2015, whilst Poirier, at the time having just turned 24, dropped a three-round decision to the WEC/UFC veteran.
Now let’s take a look at the two men in Saturday’s co-main event:
Gastelum rebounded from a third-round submission loss against Chris Weidman with a victory against another former UFC middleweight champion, Michael Bisping, via first-round KO. Upon returning to action last May, Gastelum defeated Ronaldo Souza in a back-and-forth three-round split decision.
Of all The Ultimate Fighter winners who have met in the Octagon, none have been separated by more than the 14-season gap between Bisping (season 3) and Gastelum (season 17).
Adesanya sandwiched a first-round TKO over Derek Brunson in between unanimous decision victories against Brad Tavares and former UFC middleweight champion Anderson Silva.
Adesanya jointly held the record for most victories (4) as well as the most performance bonuses (3) in the UFC in 2018 and will be fighting for the sixth time in 14 months on Saturday.
Gastelum and Adesanya 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 236: Max Holloway vs. Dustin Poirier II posts a solid score of +17.
This score ranks joint-15th out of 40 events in the last year, or 9th out of 12 Pay-Per-View events in the same period.
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 +12.2 average for all events in the last twelve months, though it does fall short of the +21.4 average for PPV events in the same time frame.
Let’s take a look at exactly how this score breaks down:
The highest individual contributor to the score is Max Holloway (+13), ahead of Israel Adesanya (+5) and Dustin Poirier (+3). Only Anderson Silva (16) has won more consecutive fights than Holloway in UFC history.
The lowest scorers are Eryk Anders, Max Griffin and Brandon Davis (all -2), whilst three fighters are making their promotional debuts at this event.
Enjoy the fights!