(If MMA were like this, Fightmetric would be perfect.)
Fightmetric wants to change the way you think, watch, and talk about MMA.
Their plan is very simple: they’ve created a litany of categories by which to keep stats in every fight, scoring the action based on a combination of qualitative and quantitative judgments, which they use to come up with a fighter’s TPR (Total Performance Rating), thus measuring his effectiveness and the quality of his performance.
Oh, wait. That isn’t simple at all. It’s really, really complicated.
Here’s the thing about Fightmetric: it’s not a bad idea, just an unnecessary one. I give them credit for being ambitious and creative and somehow managing to push their analysis onto Yahoo! and AOL. And I like that they’re trying to do something new. Seriously, I do. But at the same time, I just don’t see the point.
In a recent article on Yahoo! Sports, Fightmetric’s Rami Genauer performed an impressively thorough analysis of George St. Pierre’s career stats. Turns out, GSP has a median TPR of 90. Can you believe it? 90!
In case you’re wondering, that’s apparently pretty good. At the same time, it’s hard to foresee a time when internet forums will be abuzz with people arguing about the TPR’s of their favorite fighters.
Some of the stats seem legitimately interesting. For example, did you know that GSP is successful in 80% of his takedown attempts? That’s much better than the “average success rate” of 48%. His opponents are successful in taking him down only 17% of the time.
But what does that really tell us, that GSP has good takedown defense? Seems like I knew that just based on casual observation. Sports stats are useful primarily for purposes of nuanced comparison. In baseball, a guy with a .330 average is considered more valuable than someone hitting .280.
But comparing stats in fighting is more difficult because of the variable created by matchmaking. GSP, for example, has spent the majority of his career facing pretty tough competition. A TUF winner who gets fed tomato cans for a year and a half might have even better takedown stats, but it doesn’t necessarily mean he’s a better fighter.