The first Pay-Per-View event of 2018 is just around the corner and it may just be headlined by the greatest heavyweight title fight in UFC history.
Reigning champion Stipe Miocic (17-2 MMA, 11-2 UFC) puts his title on the line against Francis Ngannou (11-1 MMA, 6-0 UFC) in a hugely anticipated contest.
In the co-main event, light-heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier (19-1 MMA, 8-1 UFC) takes on the streaking Swiss Volkan Oezdemir (15-1 MMA, 3-0 UFC).
Let’s take a look at the recent results of the two men in Saturday night’s main event:
Miocic has won his last 5 fights by TKO/KO stoppage, with the last 4 coming in the very first round. After winning the belt against Fabrício Werdum, Miocic successfully defended against Alistair Overeem then Junior dos Santos, all 3 bouts lasting a combined 9 minutes and 36 seconds.
If Miocic is victorious on Saturday, he will become the first man to successfully defend the UFC heavyweight title more than twice consecutively since the belt was first introduced back in 1997.
Ngannou, like Miocic, has won his last 5 fights inside the distance, with the last 4 finishes also coming in the very first round. His last 3 fights, against Anthony Hamilton, Andrei Arlovski and Alistair Overeem, lasted a combined 5 minutes and 11 seconds.
Ngannou’s emphatic KO victory over Overeem won almost every website’s Knockout of the Year award for 2017. That fight, at UFC 218, came just 49 days before this Saturday’s UFC 220.
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 Miocic fared against any shared opponents and on the right, you’ll see Ngannou’s results against the same men.
The two men have faced two common opponents; Andrei Arlovski and Alistair Overeem- and recorded almost identical results. Both men defeated Arlovski via first-round TKO, before scoring a first-round KO victory over Overeem later in the same year.
Let’s take a look at the recent results of the two men in Saturday night’s co-main event:
Cormier followed a dominant decision victory over former UFC middleweight champion Anderson Silva (a non-title affair) with a submission win over Anthony ‘Rumble’ Johnson. His last fight, against long-time rival Jon Jones, originally went down as a third-round TKO loss until Jones’ drug test failure saw the result overturned to a No Contest.
After a few weeks of deliberation, the title was stripped of Jones and Cormier was reinstated as champion.
Oezdemir only made his UFC debut in 2017, making his bow in a split-decision victory against Ovince Saint Preux that 14 out of 16 polled media members thought Saint Preux won.
Oezdemir’s next two fights were much more conclusive as he scored first-round KO victories over Misha Cirkunov and Jimi Manuwa, those fights lasting 28 seconds and 42 seconds respectively.
Cormier and Oezdemir 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. 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 above-right displays some of the highest-scoring events of all time, to help give some context to this score.
UFC 220: Stipe Miocic vs. Francis Ngannou has a decent score of +16.
This score ranks joint-12th out of 39 events in the last year and joint-8th out of 13 Pay-Per-View events in that same time frame.
Here’s a look at how this score compares to other events’ scores over the past year:
As you can see, this score exceeds the +11.1 average for all events in the last 12 months, though it does fall short of the +24.3 average for Pay-Per-View events in the same period.
Let’s take a look at exactly how this score breaks down:
The highest individual contributor to this score is Francis Ngannou (+6), ahead of Stipe Miocic (+5), Volkan Oezdemir and Shane Burgos (both +3).
The lowest scorers on the card are Gian Villante, Sabah Homasi and Gleison Tibau (all -2), whilst four fighters are making their promotional debuts this weekend.
Beneath is an annotated timeline that displays successful title defenses in the UFC heavyweight division between 1997 and today. Can Miocic become the first heavyweight in UFC history to record three consecutive title defenses, or will Ngannou continue the cycle?
Similar annotated timelines for each division can be found here: Light-Heavyweight, Middleweight, Welterweight, Lightweight, Featherweight, Bantamweight, Flyweight, Women’s Featherweight, Women’s Bantamweight, Women’s Flyweight & Women’s Strawweight.
Enjoy the fights!