This Sunday, in Phoenix, Arizona, former title contender Francis Ngannou (12-3 MMA, 7-2 UFC) will take on former UFC heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez (14-2 MMA, 12-2 UFC).
This event will mark the first appearance of a UFC main card on ESPN television after the promotion signed a 5-year $1.5 billion TV deal with the sports broadcasting giants.
Let’s take a look at the last three results of the two men in Sunday night’s main event:
A little over a year ago, Ngannou lost a clear five-round unanimous decision in a fight for Stipe Miocic’s UFC heavyweight title. Ngannou then dropped a three-round decision against Derrick Lewis (one of the least-eventful fights in UFC history) before rebounding with a 45-second TKO win over Curtis Blaydes.
Ngannou’s entire 15-fight professional MMA career could be displayed on the above timeline, with the Cameroonian making his debut 42 days after Velasquez’s rubber match against Junior dos Santos.
Velasquez defended the UFC heavyweight championship for the second time in the aforementioned fifth-round TKO win over dos Santos, before losing his belt in a third-round submission defeat to Fabrício Werdum. Velasquez’s last foray into the Octagon came two-and-a-half years ago in a first-round TKO win over Travis Browne.
No one holds more TKO/KO stoppage victories than Velasquez in UFC heavyweight history.
Ngannou and Velasquez 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 on ESPN 1: Francis Ngannou vs. Cain Velasquez posts a solid score of +11.
This score ranks joint-19th out of all 38 events in the last year and would rank 2nd out of 5 if grouped amongst the UFC on FOX 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 falls right in line with the +11 average for all events in the last twelve months, though it does beat the +9 average for UFC on FOX events in the same time frame.
Let’s take a look at exactly how this score breaks down:
The highest individual contributors to the score are Vicente Luque and Scott Holtzman (both +3), ahead of Aljamain Sterling, Manny Bermudez and Aleksandra Albu (all +2).
The lowest scorers are Renan Barão and Jessica Penne (both -3), whilst Kron Gracie is the lone fighter making his promotional debut on this card.
Enjoy the fights!