SBG Ireland’s most famous son may have the world watching him on the other side of the Atlantic at the moment, but Gunnar Nelson and the rest of the team have some pressing matters to attend to closer to home as they prepare for UFC Glasgow on Sunday.
Nelson will face Santiago Ponzinibbio in what will be the UFC’s second visit to Scotland. The 28-year old Nelson (16-2-1 MMA, 7-2 UFC), who boasts 12 submissions from his 16 career wins, will be serving as the main event for just the second time in his UFC career.
Ponzinibbio (24-3 MMA, 6-2 UFC), who saw a broken hand rule him out of his spot in the tournament final of The Ultimate Fighter: Brazil 2, will be headlining a UFC event for the first time.
Let’s take a look at the last three results of the two men in Sunday night’s main event:
Nelson rebounded from a one-sided decision loss to Demian Maia with two Performance-of-the-Night submission victories over Albert Tumenov and Alan Jouban. Nelson may be a submission specialist, but he’s also gotten the better of experienced strikers like Jouban and Brandon Thatch on the feet, scoring knockdowns of each man with strikes before securing a submission finish.
Ponzinibbio is currently riding a four-fight winning streak and will be fighting for the third time in less than 12 months. The Argentinian followed a TKO win over Court McGee (the only time McGee has been finished in his career) with back-to-back decision victories over Zak Cummings and Nordine Taleb.
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 Nelson fared against any shared opponents, and on the right, you’ll see Ponzinibbio’s results against the same men.
The two men share just one common opponent; the aforementioned Zak Cummings. Both men were victorious against Cummings, Nelson winning via a second-round submission in 2014 and Ponzinibbio by unanimous decision last year.
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 113: Gunnar Nelson vs. Santiago Ponzinibbio checks in with a solid Dwyer Score of +8. This ranks in 12th place of the 20 events in 2017 and 4th among this year’s 12 Fight Night events.
Here’s a look at how this score compares to other events’ scores over the past year:
As you can see, it falls slightly short of the +11 average for all events in the last year, but it is significantly higher than the +4.8 average solely for Fight Nights in the same period.
Let’s take a look at exactly how this score breaks down:
The highest individual contributor to this card is Santiago Ponzinibbio (+4), followed by Gunnar Nelson, Cynthia Calvillo and Stevie Ray (all +2). No fighter enters the card off the back of more than one consecutive UFC defeat.
In the co-main event, hometown favorite Joanne Calderwood takes on Cynthia Calvillo in an important, top-15 clash at women’s strawweight. If Calvillo is victorious, she’ll become the first fighter (male or female) to record 3 UFC victories in 2017.
There’s a lot to like on this card, but I wanted to spotlight one fighter in particular here. Irish MMA legend Neil Seery has announced he will retire after his bout with Alexandre Pantoja on Sunday, bringing to an end a career that has spanned over a decade and nearly 30 fights.
It was 3 years ago this week when Seery, alongside Conor McGregor, Gunnar Nelson, Cathal Pendred, Paddy Holohan and Norman Parke fought at the UFC’s return to Dublin- one of the greatest events in UFC history.
I was fortunate enough to be in attendance that night, where Seery’s kicks to a grounded Phil Harris were one of many highlights, and if this Sunday’s event in Glasgow is half the event that was, we’ll have been thoroughly entertained.
Thank you, Neil Seery, and all the best in your retirement.