The UFC’s seven-year deal with FOX is coming to an end, and this Saturday marks the final UFC on FOX event. Going forward, the promotion will broadcast events live on ESPN after signing a five-year $750m deal until 2023.
When Kevin Lee (17-3 MMA, 10-3 UFC) first fought Al Iaquinta (13-4-1 MMA, 8-3 UFC) back in February of 2014, they were the first fight of the Fox Sports 1 prelims of UFC 169. Just 21-years-old at the time and making his UFC debut, Lee found himself on the wrong end of the unanimous decision verdict.
Despite coming out victorious in their first bout, Iaquinta is a sizeable underdog with bookmakers heading into Saturday’s sequel.
Let’s take a look at the recent results of the two men leading into the rematch:
In his first UFC main event, last June, Lee scored a first-round submission over Michael Chiesa. This performance earned Lee a shot at the interim UFC lightweight championship, where he lost via third-round submission to Tony Ferguson.
Lee returned to the win column in April, forcing a fifth-round TKO stoppage in a dominant display against Edson Barboza, though Lee did fail to make weight heading into the fight.
Iaquinta defeated Jorge Masvidal in a controversial April 2015 split-decision- a verdict which 13 out of 15 polled media members disagreed with. He returned to action over two years later with a first-round KO over Diego Sanchez.
After Max Holloway was forced to withdraw from UFC 223, Iaquinta stepped in to face Khabib Nurmagomedov on little more than 24 hours’ notice. Iaquinta came up short in a five-round unanimous decision loss and Nurmagomedov was crowned the UFC lightweight champion.
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 Lee fared against any shared opponents and on the right, you’ll see Iaquinta’s results against the same men.
The two men share just one common opponent; Michael Chiesa.
Chiesa defeated Iaquinta via first-round submission to win The Ultimate Fighter 15 lightweight tournament back in June of 2012. Conversely, Lee was on the winning end of a first-round submission when he faced Chiesa last June, although Chiesa contested the validity of the stoppage.
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 FOX 31: Kevin Lee vs. Al Iaquinta II posts a score of +3.
This score ranks joint-28th out of 38 events in 2018 and 25th out of all 31 UFC on FOX events since 2011.
Here’s a look at how this score compares to other events’ scores over the past year:
As you can see, this score falls short of the +10.8 average for all events in the last twelve months, as well as the +9 average for UFC on FOX events (not pictured in graph) in the same period.
Let’s take a look at exactly how this score breaks down:
The highest individual contributor to the score is Dan Hooker (+4), ahead of Charles Oliveira and Gerald Meerschaert (both +2).
The lowest scorer is Edson Barboza (-2), whilst three fighters are making their promotional debuts on this card.
Enjoy the fights!