Steroids in MMA
Which MMA Fighter Will Test Positive For Steroids Next?

Tag: finishing rates

CagePotato Databomb #17: Do MMA Finishing Rates Differ by Nationality?

(Click on the chart for the full-size version. For previous Databombs, click here.)

By Reed Kuhn, @Fightnomics

I get this question a lot: Which nation’s fighters finish the most fights? There’s a lot of bias loaded in the question, beginning with the assumption that there should be any difference at all. But what do the stats say? Which country finishes more fights than their peers? You sure you want to know?

Here are the finishing rates (winning performances only) for the top three nationalities that comprise 80% of all fights in the UFC. “All Other” nationalities are lumped together for a fourth category for reference. For this analysis I used all UFC fights that took place from 2008 through mid-2013. The most important data manipulation is that we have isolated each weight class, because as I’ve already shown: size matters when it comes to finish rates.

A good betting man should have guessed that there probably isn’t much difference between nationalities in MMA, and certainly not reliable ones. Most fighters have joined mainstream training camps and although matchmakers may book fighters to compete in certain events based on their home countries, that’s only after they’ve already made the cut for a UFC contract to begin with.

At a glance, the numbers show that Brazilians finish more overall (59%) than any other group. “All Other” fighters are next by finishing 58% of their aggregate wins. Americans (53%) come in just below the UFC average (54.5%), while Canadians bring up the rear (47%).

Brazilian fans rejoice, your fighters are most likely to end a fight in the Octagon “inside the distance.” American fighters, who are the most common competitors in the UFC, ride a consistent finish rate through the weight classes that parallels the overall UFC benchmarks for those divisions. Canadians, however, have a volatile finish rate that is high for small and large fighters, but low for fighters in the middle weight classes. This should push their overall average finish rate downward, since lightweight and welterweight divisions are the two largest (in terms of roster size) and most frequently competed.


CagePotato Databomb #13: How Often Are UFC Fights Finished?

(Click on the chart for the full-size version. For previous Databombs, click here.)

By Reed Kuhn, @Fightnomics

How many UFC fights end inside the distance? The overall percentage is 60%, which includes fights all the way back to 1993. But at the halfway point of 2013, that number is only 50%, year to date. I’d say “roughly 50%” but it’s not — it’s precisely 50%. Out of 176 fights so far in 2013, 88 have been finished by (T)KO or submission. That’s exactly half. How does that stack up with prior years in the UFC? Well, here’s the annual finish rate for UFC fights by year, with 2013 recorded through UFC 161.

The bad news for fans of highlight reel finishes is that the overall trend is down. But the good news is that the recent trend is completely flat, which is a level of stability never before seen in the UFC. As in troubled economies, after a steep decline “flat” starts looking like the new “up.” But there are other patterns underlying the movement of this line.

A closer look at the historical finish rate reveals how this metric is impacted by various drivers. First, notice that all fights ended in the first two years of the UFC. That’s because there was no other option; fighters fought until one of them won. There were no time limits, and no judges. When time limits were introduced in 1995, we see that immediately some fights went the distance, though they were all “draws” at first. Judges were brought in at the end of that year to declare winners of fights that went the distance, and the overall parity of competition improved throughout the decade forcing their involvement more frequently.

But it was the institution of weight classes that give us the best insight into the trends during the modern Zuffa era…


CagePotato Databomb #2: Breaking Down Submission Success Rates in UFC Fights

(Click chart for full-size version. And if you missed our first Databomb, click here.)

By Reed Kuhn, @Fightnomics

There’s lots of talk about what submissions work better than others in MMA. But we should at least agree that all submissions are not created equal. Some are easier to attempt, and some are easier to finish. But which ones are which?

Examining both the attempt and success rates for each submission type in the UFC since 2007 reveals that some of the most common submissions attempted are actually the hardest to finish. Notably, guillotine chokes and shoulder locks (like kimuras) have very low success rates — 14% and 6%, respectively — despite being attempted fairly frequently. And really, who taps to ankle locks these days? No one still holding a UFC roster spot, that’s who. Meanwhile, no submission is nearly as successful as the rear-naked choke, which results in a tap (or nap) 41% of the time.

So the next time a UFC fighter goes for a guillotine or ankle lock, and the overeager fan at the bar thinks it’s all over — quick! — bet him the next round that there’s an escape…and cheers.

For more on the science and stats of MMA, follow @Fightnomics on Twitter or on Facebook. See more MMA analytical research at


CagePotato Databomb #1: How UFC Fights End by Division

(Click chart for full-size version.)

By Reed Kuhn, @Fightnomics

Other than Kenny Florian, who finishes fights? Let’s settle it once and for all. Using data provided by FightMetric, we looked at how every UFC fight ended from 2007 through the first half of 2012 — a total of 1438 total fights, excluding three flyweight contests — and then divvy’d it up by weight class to determine percentages for each method. For the first time ever, all these stats are in one place, in the chart above. Boom — you’ve just been databombed.

The conclusion: Size matters. Stoppages increase steadily by weight class; but while striking finish rates correlate strongly with increasing weight, submissions have a weaker, negative correlation. Keep in mind that bantamweights and featherweights have a short history in the UFC so far, so expect some possible smoothing out of those division trends over the next year.

Do any of these results surprise you? Next time the local Bullshido expert tells the bar that his favorite featherweight will finish the next fight, bet him the next round of drinks that it’ll go to the cards.

For more science and stats of MMA, follow @Fightnomics on Twitter or on Facebook. See MMA analytical research at