The UFC’s three-week hiatus is over and we’re back with a card headlined by a fighter who has a legitimate claim to being the most consistently entertaining fighter in MMA history.
Former WSOF lightweight champion Justin Gaethje (18-2 MMA, 1-2 UFC) will square off against James Vick (13-1 MMA, 9-1 UFC) in Lincoln, Nebraska.
Vick stepped in in June after the withdrawal of Gaethje’s original opponent, Al Iaquinta, for what will be the first main event of Vick’s UFC career.
Let’s take a look at the recent results of the two men in Saturday night’s main event:
Gaethje followed a second-round TKO victory over Michael Johnson with a third-round KO loss against former UFC lightweight champion Eddie Alvarez- the first defeat of Gaethje’s career. He returned to action this April, losing via fourth-round TKO against Dustin Poirier.
In just three UFC fights, Gaethje has picked up four fight night bonuses. His bouts with Johnson and Alvarez were both nominated for 2017’s Fight of the Year award (the Johnson fight won the honor), whilst his fight with Poirier is one of the favorites for 2018’s prize.
Vick notched a first-round TKO victory over Marco Polo Reyes last May before returning with a second-round TKO win over Joseph Duffy. In his most recent fight, this February, he scored a unanimous decision win over Francisco Trinaldo.
Of all ranked fighters at lightweight, only Khabib Nurmagomedov and Tony Ferguson hold longer UFC winning streaks than Vick.
Gaethje and Vick 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 135: Justin Gaethje vs. James Vick posts a score of +6.
This score ranks joint-25th out of all 41 events in the last year, or 11th out of 23 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 does beat the +4 average for Fight Night events over the last twelve months, though it falls short of the +10.5 average for all events in that same time frame.
Let’s take a look at exactly how this score breaks down:
The highest individual contributors to the score are James Vick and James Krause (both +4), with Saturday night’s opponents John Moraga and Deiveson Figueiredo (both +3) just behind.
The lowest scorers are Michael Johnson and Jake Ellenberger (both -3), whilst no fighters are making their promotional debuts at this event. Ellenberger’s opponent on Saturday, Bryan Barberena, holds a win over Jake’s twin brother Joe.
Enjoy the fights!