This Saturday, the UFC returns to Calgary for one of the most highly-anticipated rematches in recent memory.
In the main event, former UFC lightweight champion Eddie Alvarez (29-5 MMA, 4-2 UFC) faces Dustin Poirier (23-5 MMA, 15-4 UFC) in a rematch of their bout from May of last year.
That first bout was controversially halted and declared a no-contest after referee Herb Dean ruled that the illegal knees Alvarez landed to a downed Poirier’s head were unintentional.
It prematurely ended a thrilling fight where Alvarez was beginning to recover after almost being finished by Poirier in the second round. Poirier’s team argued that Alvarez’s illegal knees should have resulted in a DQ loss, whilst Alvarez claimed that Poirier ‘wanted out’ and exaggerated his injuries to try and secure a victory via DQ.
Let’s take a look at the recent results of the two men in Saturday night’s main event:
Alvarez lost his UFC lightweight title in a second-round TKO loss to Conor McGregor in November 2016. He returned last May in the aforementioned no-contest against Poirier, before defeating Justin Gaethje via third-round KO in December.
Alvarez’s win over Gaethje was nominated for every major publication’s 2017 Fight of the Year award and handed Gaethje the first defeat of his 19-fight professional MMA career.
Poirier followed the no-contest against Alvarez with a third-round TKO win over former UFC lightweight champion Anthony Pettis and a wild fourth-round TKO victory over Justin Gaethje in April.
As things stand, Poirier’s win over Gaethje is the front-runner for 2018’s Fight of the Year award and, ignoring the no-contest against Alvarez, is part of three consecutive Fight of the Night bonuses Poirier has won (against Gaethje, Pettis and Jim Miller). If the Alvarez fight hadn’t been halted, Poirier would likely be riding a streak of four consecutive Fight of the Night bonuses.
Simply watching Alvarez-Poirier I, Alvarez-Gaethje and Poirier-Gaethje is, in my opinion, better than any promo package the UFC could put together for the rematch.
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 Alvarez fared against any shared opponents and on the right, you’ll see Poirier’s results against the same men.
The two men share three common opponents; Anthony Pettis, Conor McGregor and Justin Gaethje.
Both men scored late TKO victories over Gaethje whilst Alvarez had to settle for a split-decision win over Pettis- a fighter Poirier defeated via third-round TKO.
Alvarez and Poirier both suffered TKO losses against McGregor, Poirier’s loss coming in the first round whereas Alvarez’s came in the second.
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 UFC on FOX events of all time, to help give some context to this score.
UFC on FOX 30: Eddie Alvarez vs. Dustin Poirier II checks in with a large score of +26. That’s the kind of score we usually see reserved for Pay-Per-View events.
This score ranks 6th out of 41 events in the last year and 1st out of 5 UFC on FOX events in that same period.
It ranks joint-3rd out of all 30 UFC on FOX events since the TV deal began and falls in the top 7% of 447 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 +10.3 average for all events in the last twelve months and even beats the +23.3 average for Pay-Per-View events in the same time frame. It also beats the average score of +4 for both Fight Nights as well as UFC on FOX events (not pictured on graph) in the last year.
Let’s take a look at exactly how this score breaks down:
The highest individual contributors to the score are Olivier Aubin-Mercier and Kajan Johnson (both +4), followed by Jeremy Stephens, Islam Makhachev and Matheus Nicolau (all +3).
The lowest scorers are José Aldo, Joanna Jędrzejczyk, Devin Powell and Álvaro Herrera (all -2), whilst no fighters are making their promotional debuts on this card.
Both Aldo and Jędrzejczyk are coming off back-to-back losses where they lost their UFC titles then came up short in immediate rematches for the belts they’d lost. Defeated UFC champions are 1-6 in these immediate rematches, with no one finding success since Randy Couture at UFC 49 (Aug 2004). Cody Garbrandt will be the latest to try and match Couture’s feat at UFC 227 in just over a week.
Enjoy the fights!