Last week, new UFC featherweight champion Max Holloway joined Randy Couture, Georges St-Pierre, Fabrício Werdum and Conor McGregor in the list of interim UFC champions who have dethroned undisputed champions in title unification bouts.
That’s a tough act to follow, but we’ll get right back to it this Sunday in the UFC’s second visit to New Zealand, as Derrick Lewis (18-4 MMA, 9-2 UFC) takes on Mark Hunt (12-11-1 MMA, 7-5-1 UFC) in a battle between the 6th and 7th ranked heavyweights in the promotion.
Lewis is one of two streaking contenders in the UFC’s heavyweight division at the moment, alongside Frenchman Francis Ngannou. A convincing win for ‘The Black Beast’ here, in his third consecutive UFC main event, could easily see him given a shot at Stipe Miocic’s heavyweight title.
Knockout-specialist and hometown favorite Hunt has only lost in UFC competition to Alistair Overeem, Stipe Miocic, Fabrício Werdum, Junior dos Santos and Sean McCorkle, and holds notable wins over Frank Mir, Antônio Silva, Roy Nelson, Stefan Struve and Ben Rothwell.
Let’s take a look at the recent results of the two men in Sunday’s main event:
Derrick Lewis has won 6 fights in a row now, winning 5 of those by TKO/KO stoppage. Lewis fought 4 times in 2016, and followed a split-decision victory over Roy Nelson with back-to-back stoppage wins over Shamil Abdurakhimov and Travis Browne.
Mark Hunt’s last 3 fights have been somewhat of a roller-coaster. After defeating Frank Mir via first-round KO, Hunt lost to Brock Lesnar at UFC 200. Lesnar would go on to fail multiple drug tests, which meant the result of the fight was overturned to a No Contest, and a lawsuit between Mark Hunt and the UFC, which is still underway today, ensued. Hunt’s return to action earlier this year was not a successful one, losing via third-round KO to Alistair Overeem in March.
The two men boast 14 TKO/KO stoppages in 25 combined UFC appearances, and their fights have gone to the judges’ scorecards just 3 times collectively in those 25 bouts.
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 Lewis fared against any shared opponents, and on the right, you’ll see Hunt’s results against the same men.
These two men share just one common opponent; Roy Nelson. Hunt defeated Nelson via KO in September 2014 and is still the only man to finish Nelson in the American’s 19 UFC fights. Lewis, on the other hand, edged out Nelson in a close split-decision victory last July.
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 110 comes in with a low score of -2. Only the event headlined by B.J. Penn and Yair Rodríguez in January (an event that is tied for the worst-scoring event of all time with -13) scores lower in 2017.
This is the 6th negative score we’ve seen in the last year.
Here’s a look at how UFC Fight Night 110: Lewis vs. Hunt’s score compares to other events’ scores over the past year:
This score falls way short of the +6.8 average for Fight Night events over the last 12 months, and even further 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 Derrick Lewis (+6), followed by Dan Kelly (+4) in second place. Ross Pearson, John Moraga and Thibault Goulti share the honors for the worst streak on the card (all -3).
The biggest momentum differential can be found in the co-main event, where Derek Brunson (-2) meets Dan Kelly (+4). Kelly is coming off the biggest win of his career; a split-decision victory over former UFC light-heavyweight champion Rashad Evans in March. Kelly has closed as an underdog with the bookmakers in all 7 of his UFC bouts thus far (and looks set to again this week), yet is 6-1 in those fights. Brunson is coming off a controversial decision loss to Anderson Silva that 20/24 polled media members thought he should have won.
Tim Elliott replaced the injured Joseph Benavidez and will take on Ben Nguyen in an important fight in the flyweight division. Elliott has had just over 4 weeks to prepare for this fight and is looking to record back-to-back UFC victories for just the second time in what will be his 9th bout in the promotion.
It’s probably fair to say that there’s not a huge amount of star power on this card outside of the main event, but stylistically it’s hard to see how this headliner fails to disappoint.