This Saturday, the UFC returns to Toronto with a card headlined by one of the most anticipated fights of 2018.
UFC featherweight champion Max Holloway (19-3 MMA, 15-3 UFC) looks to defend his title against undefeated challenger Brian Ortega (14-0 MMA, 6-0 UFC). This will be the first featherweight title fight in UFC history that does not feature José Aldo.
In the co-main event, Valentina Shevchenko (15-3 MMA, 4-2 UFC) will face Joanna Jędrzejczyk (15-2 MMA, 9-2 UFC) for the vacant UFC women’s flyweight title.
Jędrzejczyk could become the first female to win a UFC title in multiple weight classes, matching the feats of Randy Couture, B.J. Penn, Conor McGregor, Georges St-Pierre, and Daniel Cormier.
Let’s take a look at the recent results of the two men in Saturday night’s main event:
Holloway has won his last three fights via third-round TKO, with all three wins coming in the fourth minute of the third round. The first of these three wins came over former UFC lightweight champion Anthony Pettis, whilst the latter two came over former UFC featherweight champion José Aldo.
If Holloway is victorious on Saturday night that would be his 13th consecutive UFC win. Only Anderson Silva (16) has recorded more consecutive UFC wins.
Ortega followed a third-round submission over Renato Moicano last July with a second-round submission of Cub Swanson almost exactly a year ago. The Californian scored the biggest win of his career in March- a first-round KO of former UFC lightweight champion Frankie Edgar.
Ortega has picked up four fight-night bonuses in his last three UFC bouts.
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 Holloway fared against any shared opponents and on the right, you’ll see Ortega’s results against the same men.
The two men share just one common opponent; Cub Swanson.
Both men submitted Swanson via guillotine choke, with Holloway finishing the fight in the third round whilst Ortega stopped Swanson in the second.
Now let’s take a look at the recent results of the two women in Saturday’s co-main event.
Shevchenko defeated Julianna Peña via second-round submission last January before dropping a split-decision to Amanda Nunes in a fight for the UFC bantamweight title- a verdict that 12 out of 22 polled media members disagreed with.
After dropping down to flyweight, Shevchenko defeated Priscilla Cachoeira via second-round submission, out-landing her opponent by 230 strikes to 3 in a fight that was criticized as a severe mismatch.
Jędrzejczyk suffered back-to-back defeats against Rose Namajunas- first losing her UFC women’s strawweight title via first-round TKO then dropping a five-round decision in a rematch. Jędrzejczyk got back into the win column in July with a unanimous decision victory over Tecia Torres.
The last seven defeated UFC champions that were given immediate rematches to reclaim their belts have all lost in the rematch. The last defeated UFC champion to successfully reclaim their title in an immediate rematch was Randy Couture back in August 2004.
Shevchenko and Jędrzejczyk 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 231: Max Holloway vs. Brian Ortega posts a really strong score of +30.
This score ranks joint-2nd out of 37 events in 2018 and joint-18th out of 461 events in UFC history.
Here’s a look at how this score compares to other events’ scores over the past year:
As you can see, this score far exceeds the +10.2 average for all events in the last twelve months, as well as the +19.3 average for Pay-Per-View events in the same time frame.
Let’s take a look at exactly how this score breaks down:
The highest individual contributor to the score is Max Holloway (+12), ahead of Brian Ortega (+6), Nina Ansaroff and Katlyn Chookagian (both +3).
The lowest scorers are Jimi Manuwa, Matthew Lopez and Dhiego Lima (all -2), whilst Kyle Nelson is the lone fighter making his UFC debut this weekend.
Enjoy the fights!