After a relatively quiet spell of UFC action, with just one event in the last month, things get back underway this Sunday in Stockholm where hometown favorite Alexander Gustafsson (17-4 MMA, 9-4 UFC) takes on Glover Teixeira (26-5 MMA, 9-3 UFC).
Both men have suffered setbacks as of late, but in an aging light heavyweight division one impressive win can alter perceptions (and rankings) drastically.
The headline bout will be supported by a co-main event that sees the brightest prospect in the UFC’s light heavyweight division; Misha Cirkunov, taking on Volkan Oezdemir. A convincing win for either man could put them in the 205 lbs title discussion.
Let’s take a look at the recent results of the two men in Sunday’s main event:
Alexander Gustafsson has fought just three times in the last three years, rebounding from consecutive losses to Anthony ‘Rumble’ Johnson and Daniel Cormier with a decision victory over Jan Błachowicz last September.
Gustafsson has only lost four times in his UFC career, against Phil Davis, Jon Jones, Anthony Johnson and Daniel Cormier. He’s never lost to a fighter who hasn’t been ranked in the top 3 in the world at some stage.
Glover Teixeira has been far busier as of late, competing three times in the last fourteen months. He followed a vicious KO victory over Rashad Evans with an equally vicious KO loss to Anthony Johnson, before defeating rising prospect Jared Cannonier via unanimous decision earlier this year.
Teixeira has tasted defeat just three times in UFC competition, with those defeats coming against Jon Jones, Phil Davis and Anthony Johnson (does this story sound familiar?)
Here’s a look at how these two fighters performed when facing the same opposition:
On the left of the graphic, you’ll see how Gustafsson fared against these common opponents, and on the right, you’ll see Teixeira’s results against the same men.
Both men went 1-3 against their shared opponents, each lone victory being a submission win over James Te Huna.
These results are remarkably similar, with the only notable difference being that Phil Davis finished Gustafsson (albeit back in 2010), whereas Teixeira lost that fight via decision.
The Dwyer Score
Each event I calculate a ‘Dwyer Score’ for the card. It’s a simple way of giving a numeric value to the momentum of 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. No Contests, Draws, or bouts with other promotions set your streak to 0. When you tally up the scores for every fighter on a card (only counting UFC fights), you get a total which gives you an idea of the combined momentum of fighters heading into a specific event. To the right, you’ll see a list of some of the highest-scoring events of all time to help give some context to these scores.
UFC Fight Night 109 comes in with a score of +6. This ranks in 4th place amongst the 7 Fight Night events in 2017 thus far, and in 10th place out of all 13 events.
This score is certainly not a huge one by any stretch of the imagination, though it’s no disgrace either.
Here’s a look at how this score compares to other events’ scores over the past year:
This score falls just short of the +7.3 average for Fight Night events over the last 12 months, and some way off the +9 score averaged by all non-PPV events.
Let’s take a look at exactly how this score breaks down:
The highest individual contributor to this week’s score is Misha Cirkunov (+4), whilst the lowest scorers are Chris Camozzi and Marcin Held (both -2).
Misha Cirkunov is 4-0 in UFC competition, winning all of those fights inside the distance. His opponent, Volkan Oezdemir, is coming off a surprise victory over former interim light heavyweight title contender Ovince Saint Preux.
Pedro Munhoz takes on Damian Stasiak in a battle of in-form grappling specialists which could see the victor land a top-5 opponent at bantamweight, whilst the undefeated Abdul Razak Alhassan will return to action following an extremely impressive KO victory over SBG product Charlie Ward.
The UFC will be racking up some serious flight miles over the next five weeks, following this trip to Sweden with events in Brazil, New Zealand, Singapore and the USA. Let’s hope Sunday’s Stockholm event gets this international tour off to a good start.