This Saturday, the UFC returns to Minneapolis with a headlining fight that will likely determine the next contender for the UFC heavyweight title.
Francis Ngannou (13-3 MMA, 8-2 UFC) takes on former UFC heavyweight champion Junior dos Santos (21-5 MMA, 15-4 UFC) in a battle between the second and third-ranked UFC heavyweights.
Let’s take a look at the last three results of the two men in Saturday night’s main event:
Ngannou rebounded from a unanimous decision defeat to Derrick Lewis (one of the least eventful fights in UFC history) with back-to-back sub-minute TKO/KO stoppage victories over Curtis Blaydes and two-time UFC heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez.
In his sixteen-fight professional MMA career, Ngannou has lost each time the fight went to the judges’ scorecards, and conversely, he has won every time his fights ended inside the distance.
Dos Santos followed a five-round unanimous decision win over Blagoy Ivanov with back-to-back second-round TKO wins over Tai Tuivasa and Derrick Lewis.
15-4 in his UFC career, a victory on Saturday would see Cigano pull level with Frank Mir and Andrei Arlovski on 16 UFC victories, the all-time heavyweight record.
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 Ngannou fared against any shared opponents and on the right, you’ll see dos Santos’ results against the same men.
The two men share four common opponents; Cain Velasquez, Stipe Miocic, Alistair Overeem and Derrick Lewis.
Ngannou scored a first-round KO over Velasquez, as did dos Santos in the first fight of their trilogy, before losing via decision in a rematch and TKO in the rubber match.
Ngannou lost a wide decision against Miocic, an opponent dos Santos defeated via unanimous decision in 2014 before suffering a first-round TKO loss in a rematch in 2017.
Dos Santos lost via second-round TKO against Overeem in 2015, whilst Ngannou scored an emphatic first-round KO against the former Strikeforce heavyweight champion.
Dos Santos defeated Lewis via second-round TKO in March, whilst Ngannou landed just 11 strikes in 15 minutes of fighting en route to a decision loss in his meeting with Lewis.
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 3: Francis Ngannou vs. Junior dos Santos checks in with a middling score of +8. This score ranks joint-25th out of 41 events in the last year.
Here’s a look at how this score compares to other events’ scores over the past year:
As you can see, this score falls a little short of the +12.1 average for all events in the last twelve months, though it does beat the +7.2 average for Fight Night events in the same period.
Let’s take a look at exactly how this score breaks down:
The highest individual contributors to the score are Jussier Formiga and Anthony Rocco Martin (both +4), just ahead of Junior dos Santos (+3).
The lowest individual scorers are Eryk Anders and Júnior Albini (both -3), with Jared Gordon and Dan Moret (both -2) close behind. Five fighters will be making their promotional debuts on this card.
Enjoy the fights!