Following May-Mac was always going to be a tall order, but fortunately enough this fight is exactly that. 7 ft 0 Stefan Struve (28-8 MMA, 12-6 UFC) takes on 6 ft 7 Alexander Volkov (28-6 MMA, 2-0 UFC) – the tallest fight in UFC history.
Just four years ago, Struve was diagnosed with a heart condition that, at least temporarily, cast doubt on his future in the sport. Fans were further worried when a locker room panic-attack led to the cancellation of his first scheduled return. Since then, however, Struve has competed 5 times in the UFC with no concerns, going 3-2 in that stretch.
Volkov, a former Bellator heavyweight champion, finally made his UFC debut last year in his 33rd professional fight. He’ll be headlining his first event with the promotion this Saturday.
Let’s take a look at the recent results of the two men in Saturday night’s main event:
Volkov followed a KO stoppage of former Bellator light-heavyweight champion Attila Végh with a controversial win over Timothy Johnson and a victory over veteran Roy Nelson.
Struve rebounded from an uninspiring decision loss to Jared Rosholt with a 16-second KO of António Silva and a D’Arce choke submission of Daniel Omielańczuk.
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 Volkov fared against any shared opponents, and on the right, you’ll see Struve’s results against the same men.
Both men share just one common opponent throughout their careers; Roy Nelson. Volkov came out victorious against Nelson earlier this year, whilst Struve suffered an emphatic TKO loss to ‘Big Country’ back in 2010.
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. A fighter coming off a No Contest, a draw, or a bout with another promotion has a streak of 0, and only UFC results are considered. 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 right displays some of the highest-scoring events of all time, to help give some context to this score.
UFC Fight Night 115: Volkov vs. Struve has a huge Dwyer Score of +20. This ranks joint-5th of 25 events in 2017 and 2nd of the 14 Fight Nights this year.
It’s a score that may surprise some, but amongst some of these unfamiliar names (including 5 -ov and 3 -ić surname suffixes, if you’re counting) there are some real solid performers.
Here’s a look at how this score compares to other events’ scores over the past year:
This score is way above the average for Fight Nights (+4.6) as well as the average for all events (+11.7).
Let’s take a look at exactly how this score breaks down:
The honors for highest individual contributor are shared by Mairbek Taisumov, Michel Prazeres and Rustam Khabilov (all +4), with Leon Edwards (+3) close behind.
The lowest individual contributor to the score is Thibault Gouti (-3), just ahead of Bojan Mihajlović (-2). Only three of the twenty-four fighters on this card are coming off a UFC defeat, whilst seven are making their promotional debuts.
Is it a card filled with huge names and glamour ties? No, but there are several fighters on solid winning streaks or coming off impressive performances who are looking to establish themselves as contenders in their divisions.
I tend to think the old adage that says these kinds of cards always deliver is something of an exaggeration. That said, I believe this is going to be one of those under-the-radar events that does.