This Saturday, for the fifth time in UFC history, two reigning champions will meet in the Octagon.
In the four prior instances (St-Pierre vs. Penn, Alvarez vs. McGregor, Miocic vs. Cormier and Cyborg vs. Nunes), the bout was contested at the heavier champion’s weight-class.
This time, UFC flyweight champion Henry Cejudo (13-2 MMA, 7-2 UFC) will defend his 125 lbs. title against reigning UFC bantamweight champion T.J. Dillashaw (16-3 MMA, 12-3 UFC)- the first time in UFC history that a bout between two champions has been contested at the lighter champion’s weight-class.
This fight also marks the first time a UFC champion has defended their title on a non-Pay-Per-View event since Demetrious Johnson faced Wilson Reis in April 2017.
Let’s take a look at the last three results of the two men in Saturday night’s main event:
Cejudo followed an impressive second-round TKO victory over Wilson Reis in September 2017 with a dominant unanimous decision victory over Sergio Pettis that December.
These performances saw Cejudo granted a rematch against the most successful UFC champion of all time, Demetrious Johnson. Cejudo avenged his April 2016 first-round TKO loss to Johnson with a five-round split-decision victory last August- a verdict that 13 out of 25 polled media members agreed with.
Dillashaw scored a three-round unanimous decision victory (30-26 scorecards across the board) over John Lineker in December 2016 to earn the chance to reclaim the UFC bantamweight title he’d lost in a close fight with Dominick Cruz earlier that year.
T.J. made the most of this opportunity, beginning his second title-reign with a second-round KO over Cody Garbrandt, then cementing that result with a first-round TKO over Garbrandt in an immediate rematch last August.
Garbrandt’s loss meant that defeated UFC champions are now 1-7 when given immediate rematches to reclaim their belts, with no one managing the feat since Randy Couture at UFC 49 in August 2004.
Cejudo and Dillashaw share no common opponents throughout their professional MMA careers.
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 143: Henry Cejudo vs. T.J. Dillashaw posts a strong score of +17.
This score ranks joint-11th out of 39 events in the last year and 3rd out of 21 Fight Night events in the same period.
Here’s a look at how this score compares to other events’ scores over the past year:
As you can see, this score far exceeds the +5.5 average for Fight Night events in the last twelve months, as well as the +10.7 average for all 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 Gregor Gillespie (+5), ahead of T.J. Dillashaw and Belal Muhammad (both +4) and Henry Cejudo and Dustin Ortiz (both +3).
The lowest scorer is Dennis Bermudez (-4), who has lost his last three consecutive fights via split-decision. Six fighters will be making their promotional debuts on this card.
Enjoy the fights!