For the third time in as many events, a battle between two top-ranked lightweights headlines a UFC card as Edson Barboza (19-5 MMA, 13-5 UFC) squares off against Kevin Lee (16-3 MMA, 9-3 UFC).
An impressive win for either man could put them straight back into the title picture as both fighters look to rebound from high-profile defeats against championship caliber opponents.
Let’s take a look at the recent results of the two men in Saturday night’s main event:
Barboza followed a unanimous decision victory over Gilbert Melendez in 2016 with a spectacular flying knee KO of Beneil Dariush last March. He then lost a clear one-sided decision to current UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov in December.
Barboza has never lost two consecutive bouts in his professional MMA career.
Lee scored back-to-back rear-naked choke victories over Francisco Trinaldo and Michael Chiesa last year, snapping their respective seven-fight and three-fight winning streaks. He then faced Tony Ferguson for the interim UFC lightweight title, coming up short in a third-round submission defeat.
Like Barboza, Lee has never lost back-to-back fights in his career.
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 Barboza fared against any shared opponents, and on the right, you’ll see Lee’s results against the same men.
The two men share just one common opponent; Tony Ferguson.
Ferguson defeated both men via submission, catching Barboza in a D’Arce choke in the second round of their 2015 Fight of the Year nominee, almost two years before the aforementioned third-round triangle choke of Lee.
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 Fight Night 128: Edson Barboza vs. Kevin Lee checks in with a score of +4.
This score ranks joint-27th out of 41 events in the past year and 11th out of 23 Fight Nights in that same period.
Here’s a look at how this score compares to other events’ scores over the past year:
As you can see, this score beats the +2 average for Fight Nights in the last twelve months but falls short of the +9.9 average for all events in that same time frame.
Let’s take a look at exactly how this score breaks down:
The highest individual contributor to this week’s score is Thiago Santos (+4), just ahead of Brett Johns (+3).
Santos, who is currently riding a streak of four consecutive TKO victories, was tied alongside Paul Felder and Paulo Costa for the most TKO/KO wins in the UFC in 2017 (3).
The lowest individual scorer is Jim Miller (-3), who will match Michael Bisping’s all-time UFC record of 29 fights on Saturday.
Miller was tied alongside Anthony Hamilton, Bobby Nash, Darren Stewart, Donald Cerrone, Henrique da Silva and Nate Marquardt for the most UFC losses in 2017 (3).
Enjoy the fights!