This Saturday, for the first time in promotional history, the UFC hosts an event in Beijing, China.
The event comes one year (to the day) after the UFC’s first venture into mainland China, where a Shanghai crowd saw Kelvin Gastelum defeat Michael Bisping.
This time around, Curtis Blaydes (10-1 MMA, 5-1 UFC) will rematch the man responsible for his sole career blemish, Francis Ngannou (11-3 MMA, 6-2 UFC). Ngannou defeated Blaydes via TKO (doctor’s stoppage) at the end of the second round of their April 2016 bout.
Let’s take a look at the recent results of the two men in Saturday’s main event:
Just over a year ago, Blaydes defeated Alexey Oleynik via second-round TKO in unusual fashion. The referee halted the action after Blaydes threw an illegal strike to a downed Oleynik, who looked unable to continue and on the verge of a victory by way of DQ. After reviewing the instant replay, however, the referee correctly determined that the strike had barely grazed the ear of Oleynik and Blaydes was declared the winner by TKO.
Blaydes returned to action in February, surviving a first-round knockdown to secure a unanimous decision victory over Mark Hunt before scoring a brutal third-round TKO stoppage of Alistair Overeem in June.
Last December, Ngannou scored one of the most memorable knockouts in UFC history as he stopped Alistair Overeem in the first round with a finish that won most publications’ Knockout of the Year award.
Such was the hype surrounding Ngannou that he was instilled as the betting favorite heading into a title challenge against the most successful UFC heavyweight champion in history, Stipe Miocic. Ngannou lost a wide unanimous decision against Miocic in January before dropping another decision (in one of the least-eventful fights in MMA history) against Derrick Lewis in July.
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 Blaydes fared against any shared opponents and on the right, you’ll see Ngannou’s results against the same men
The two fighters share just one common opponent; the aforementioned former Strikeforce heavyweight champion Alistair Overeem.
Both men recorded TKO/KO stoppages over Overeem just six months apart from one another- Ngannou’s stoppage coming in the first round whilst Blaydes’ victory was secured in the third.
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 Fight Night 141: Curtis Blaydes vs. Francis Ngannou II checks in with a score of +1.
This score ranks joint-28th out of all 34 events in 2018 and 15th out of 19 Fight Night events this year.
Here’s a look at how this score compares to other events’ scores over the past year:
As you can see, this score falls some way short of the +10.6 average for all events in the last twelve months, as well as the +4.8 average for Fight Night 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 Curtis Blaydes (+4), with Song Yadong, Kenan Song and Yan Xiaonan (all +2) closest behind. Blaydes holds the longest active winning streak in the UFC heavyweight division alongside champion Daniel Cormier.
The lowest scorer is Rashad Coulter (-3), just ahead of Francis Ngannou and Alistair Overeem (both -2). Four fighters are making their UFC debuts on this card, whilst 10-fight UFC veteran and former top-ten flyweight Louis Smolka makes his promotional return.
Enjoy the fights!