Much of the build-up to this fight has, understandably, revolved around a viral video of a press conference brawl between the two men competing in Sunday’s main event. This fight, however, is much more than just bluster and bravado; this is a contest between two confident, in-form, top-ranked lightweights at the top of their game.
Michael Chiesa (14-2 MMA, 7-2 UFC) takes on Kevin Lee (15-2 MMA, 8-2 UFC) in Oklahoma City, USA (the fifth country the UFC has visited in the last five weeks) with a spot in the top-five potentially on the line.
Here’s a look at the recent results of the two men in Sunday night’s main event:
Both Chiesa and Lee are a perfect 3-0 in their last three fights and are both at the peak of their UFC careers thus far. Only Tony Ferguson, Khabib Nurmagomedov and Al Iaquinta boast longer active winning streaks in lightweight’s top-ten.
Chiesa followed a decision victory over Mitch Clarke with back-to-back submission wins over tough opponents Jim Miller and Beneil Dariush. The TUF 15 winner has picked up four fight-night bonuses in his last six fights.
Chiesa has undeniably faced a higher level of competition than Lee thus far; Chiesa’s seven UFC wins came over men who hold a combined UFC record of 48-26-1 (a win-rate of 64%), whilst Lee’s eight UFC scalps have a combined record of 34-28 (a win-rate of 55%).
Lee is coming off the biggest win of his career; a victory over Francisco Trinaldo in Fortaleza that snapped the Brazilian’s seven-fight winning streak. Before this, Lee had registered impressive wins over fellow prospects Jake Matthews and Magomed Mustafaev in consecutive stoppage victories.
Lee has been far more active than Chiesa as of late, competing four times (winning all four) since Chiesa last stepped in the Octagon in April 2016.
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 Chiesa fared against any shared opponents, and on the right, you’ll see Lee’s results against the same men.
Chiesa gets the better of this comparison, having defeated both Al Iaquinta and Francisco Trinaldo. Lee came up short against ‘Raging Al,’ but did manage to finish Trinaldo inside the distance, whereas Chiesa had to settle for a decision win. It should also be noted that Lee was just 21 years old when he lost to Iaquinta.
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 112: Chiesa vs. Lee has a Dwyer Score of -1. This ranks in 15th place of the 17 events in 2017 and lies 8th among this year’s 10 Fight Night events.
Considering that last week, the Holm-Correia card posted the worst score in UFC’s 401-event history (-14), this one doesn’t seem so bad.
Here’s a look at how this score compares to other events’ scores over the past year:
This score falls some way short of the +11.4 average for all events in the last year, as well as the +7.6 average for all non-PPV cards (Fight Nights, TUF Finales and UFC on FOX shows) over the same period. The average score specifically for Fight Night events in the last 12 months is +5.7.
Let’s take a look at exactly how this score breaks down:
The highest individual contributor to this card is Kevin Lee (+4), followed closely by his dance partner on Sunday, Michael Chiesa (+3). The lowest individual contributor is former UFC welterweight and lightweight champion B.J. Penn (-4), with Dennis Siver and Clay Guida (both -2) close behind.
Felice Herrig, Justine Kish and Maryna Moroz all look to record a third consecutive win in the women’s strawweight division- a winning streak bettered only by champion Joanna Jędrzejczyk at 115 pounds today. Former strawweight champion Carla Esparza is one of three former UFC title-holders on the card.
Tim Boetsch takes on Johny Hendricks in a bout between two men who were competing in weight classes 35 pounds apart just last year, whilst Danish light-heavyweight Joachim Christensen will become the first fighter to compete three times in the UFC in 2017.
Last week, a former UFC champion slumped to his fifth consecutive defeat. B.J Penn will aim to avoid the fate of Andrei Arlovski when he takes on German featherweight and fellow veteran Dennis Siver. In Penn’s last fight, in January, he lost decisively to a rising prospect who was just 7 years old when Penn made his UFC debut. Siver, born exactly 1 month after Penn, is surely a much better match-up at this stage of the Hawaiian’s career.
We’ll have a break in UFC action for the first time in 6 weeks following this event, though when the UFC returns from this brief intermission it does so with a bang; with 3 shows in 10 days, ensuring there’ll be plenty to discuss.