The biggest fight of 2017 is just days away, as UFC light-heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier prepares to put his belt on the line against bitter rival Jon Jones.
It’s a belt that former champion Jones (22-1 MMA, 16-1 UFC) never lost. The UFC’s youngest ever champion saw his title stripped from him following a highly publicized hit-and-run incident in April 2015, just one of many disciplinary issues Jones has faced in a tumultuous couple of years.
Cormier (19-1 MMA, 8-1 UFC) took full advantage of the void left at 205 lbs, winning Jones’ vacated title and successfully defending it on two occasions since.
The two men, who infamously once brawled at a press conference, first met in the Octagon in January 2015, with Jones winning a unanimous decision in a bout that won the Fight of the Night award.
Let’s take a look at the last three results of the two men in Saturday night’s main event:
Cormier made his first successful title defense in a thrilling split-decision victory over Alexander Gustafsson in October 2015, before notching a dominant win over former UFC middleweight champion Anderson Silva last July. Most recently, Cormier scored a submission victory over one of the most dangerous strikers in all of MMA; Anthony Johnson
Jones’ last three bouts were unanimous decision wins over Glover Teixeira, Daniel Cormier and Ovince Saint Preux. This has been something of a career-turnaround for Jones, who has seen his last four consecutive fights go a decision, compared to just 1 decision in 10 fights before that.
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 Cormier fared against any shared opponents, and on the right, you’ll see Jones’ results against the same men.
The two men share just one common opponent; Alexander Gustafsson. Both men earned tight decision victories over the Swede in two fights that were both nominated for fight of the year. It’s hard to think of many fighters who have gotten as close to the title as Gustafsson has, on two separate occasions, without winning it.
In the co-main event, UFC welterweight champion Tyron Woodley (17-3-1 MMA, 7-2-1 UFC) defends his belt against Brazilian jiu-jitsu specialist Demian Maia (25-6 MMA, 19-6 UFC).
Here’s a look at the last three results of the two men in Saturday’s co-main event:
Woodley won the title with an emphatic first-round KO of Robbie Lawler before back-to-back fights with Stephen Thompson. The first Thompson fight was spectacular, but the second wasn’t quite so entertaining, with each man landing slightly over 10 significant strikes per round.
Maia, who is just one submission victory off Royce Gracie’s all-time UFC record, followed back-to-back submission wins over Matt Brown and Carlos Condit with a hard fought split-decision victory over Jorge Masvidal.
Let’s take 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 Woodley fared against any shared opponents, and on the right, you’ll see Maia’s results against the same men.
As you can see, the results are eerily similar. The only difference in these 5 results is that Woodley defeated Condit via a TKO whereas Maia won that bout via submission. Other than that, the results are exactly the same; a KO loss to Nate Marquardt, decision defeats to Jake Shields and Rory MacDonald and a TKO win over Dong Hyun Kim.
Even the nature of the decision losses (split-decision loss to Shields, unanimous decision loss to Rory) are the same. Virtually identical, one might say.
If those two fights didn’t quench your title-thirst, Cris Cyborg and Tonya Evinger will vie for the freshly vacated women’s featherweight belt, on what is an absolutely stacked card this Saturday.
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 214 checks in with a huge Dwyer Score of +37. This ranks in 8th place of the 407 events in UFC history.
It also ranks in 2nd place of 2017’s 22 events and in the top 2% of UFC events since the promotion began in 1993.
Here’s a look at how this score compares to other events’ scores over the past year:
As you can see, it blows the +11.2 average for all events out of the water, as well as the +19.6 average for strictly Pay-Per-View cards.
Let’s take a look at exactly how this score breaks down:
The highest individual contributor to the score is Jon Jones (+13), followed by Demian Maia (+7), with Daniel Cormier and Jason Knight tied for third (both +4). The lowest individual scorer is Josh Burkman (-3), just ahead of Kailin Curran (-2).
Former UFC welterweight champion Robbie Lawler takes on Donald Cerrone in one of the most anticipated stylistic match-ups of the year. The fight was initially booked for UFC 213 earlier this month until Cerrone contracted a blood infection, leading to the bout’s postponement.
Jimi Manuwa meets Volkan Oezdemir in a contest between two in-form light-heavyweights that will surely determine the next title contender, Ricardo Lamas takes on Jason Knight in a top-ranked featherweight showdown, whilst former UFC bantamweight champion Renan Barão squares off against Serra-Longo product Aljamain Sterling.
It’s probably the best event of 2017 and it’s headlined by one of the best fights possible in MMA today. On paper, it’s an absolutely fantastic card and I can’t wait for things to get started.