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The Price of Wisdom: Age and Knockouts in MMA


(Photo via CagedInsider.com)

Ed. note: Reed “The Fight Scientist” Kuhn is a Washington D.C.-based strategy consultant whose pioneering work in MMA stats analysis earned him a position as Strategic Advisor for Alchemist Management, as well as contributing gigs for the UFC, Sherdog, and Fight! Magazine. Using the information available to him as a research fellow with FightMetric, Reed examines historical trends and data to uncover new ways of looking at the sport — and predict what’s most likely to happen in a given matchup. In the coming weeks, Reed will begin providing exclusive columns and analysis to CagePotato.com. The following was originally published on his site, FightNomics. For further reading, check out “Small Fish, Bigger Pond: The UFC/WEC Merger’s Hidden Secret” and “Diamond in the Rough: Is Nate Diaz Built for a UFC Championship?” Follow Fightnomics on Twitter and Facebook.

At UFC 129 Randy Couture entered the Octagon for the last time to the cheers of over 55,000 fans in Toronto’s Rogers Centre, a massive venue normally reserved for major league baseball and Canadian football games. From a dimmed broadcast platform set up in the cheap sets, I watched alongside the cast and crew of the one-time, live pre-show experiment known as “UFC Central.” As Lyoto Machida lined up across the cage, I pointed to my analysis of the matchup, noting specifically that Machida’s evasiveness and striking ability was the key here, as was Couture’s age. Randy Couture was 47 years old and a veteran at grinding out victories. But his only hope was to neutralize Machida’s laser-like strikes via clinching and dirty boxing, possibly even ground and pound. And that wasn’t in the cards. Even from our distant vantage point, we all knew it.

Analysis of Machida showed extremely accurate striking and similarly excellent striking defense. His takedown defense was also strong, a result if his uncanny ability to maintain distance, which would eliminate any advantage a wrestler might have over him. Couture on the other hand, was a decent striker, but allowed his opponents to land their own strikes with better than average success, indicating poor striking defense. His wrestling acumen led to a good shooting takedown success rate, though surprisingly little success from the clinch. The fight’s outcome was right there in front of us on the paper. At -325, Machida was a strong but not overwhelming favorite, and yet that betting line failed to capture how much of an advantage he really had. The “Dragon” was 15 years younger than the “Natural,” a spread that generally leads to an 80% win rate for the younger fighter. On top of that, it was clear that he was going to keep his distance, meaning he could send his strikes through Couture’s loose defense at will.

As the fight began, Kenny Florian and Stephan Bonnar watched with slight grimaces while Couture pressed forward and tried desperately to get a hold of the elusive Machida. During these scrambles Machida landed punches out of nowhere with his typical blazing speed and accuracy. When the first round ended, it was almost a relief that Couture was still standing – a small victory for Father Time. But that relief was short lived, and the now famous crane kick that ended the illustrious MMA career of Randy Couture connected with his chin barely a minute into the second round. Couture’s head snapped with the impact of the surprise kick, and his body immediately crumpled to the mat before the kick was even retracted. Moments after recovering, as Randy stood flashing his Hollywood grin and confirming the retirement we were all expecting, one of his teeth fell out in his hand.

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‘Silva vs. Sonnen 2′ Video Hype: The Stat Line, Chael’s Mom + More


(Props: YouTube.com/UFC)

If you’re a stats geek, this new UFC 148 promo clip will give you a raging nerd-boner. In dissecting the rivalry between Anderson Silva and Chael Sonnen, we learn the following:

- Before his first fight with Sonnen at UFC 117, Anderson Silva had been hit a combined 166 times by his previous 11 UFC opponents. Sonnen landed on him 320 times. (Each of these must have counted as two.)

- Sonnen has actually out-landed all of his opponents in the UFC and WEC. Unfortunately, he’s also allowed 18 serious submission attempts during his UFC fights, which places him 3rd on the all-time list. We’re guessing he’ll never catch up to Melvin Guillard.

- Silva’s triangle/armbar submission of Sonnen 23:10 into their fight was the latest stoppage in UFC history.

- Sonnen’s 34 takedowns in the Octagon place him at #1 among middleweights.

- Sonnen is the “World’s Best Trash Talker,” which has been scientifically proven by the researchers at CompuTrash.

After the jump: Sonnen discusses the training camp support he gets from his mother/co-conspirator, and the full video of Sonnen’s UFC 136 smashing of Brian Stann.

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Body Shots Don’t Win Fights: Fabio Maldonado Outstrikes Igor Pokrajac 166-64, Still Loses


(Brazilian boy can’t get no love? / Props: enlapelea.com)

Fabio Maldonado should have learned his lesson in his fight against Kyle Kingsbury last June — if the judges refuse to count body punches as “effective damage,” you might as well just start head-hunting and grunting and hope for the best. Once again, the Brazilian light-heavyweight put on a body-shot clinic in his bout against Igor Pokrajac at last night’s UFC event, and once again he wound up with a unanimous decision loss, with one judge inexplicably handing all three rounds to the Croatian. Many observers called this one a robbery, and you can understand why if you look a little closer at the striking totals. According to FightMetric

- Round 1: Maldonado out-landed Pokrajac 36-6 in significant strikes, 47-16 overall.

- Round 2: Maldonado out-landed Pokrajac 26-13 in significant strikes, 60-18 overall.

- Round 3: Maldonado out-landed Pokrajac 36-17 in significant strikes, 59-30 overall.

- Overall: Maldonado’s success-rate for significant strikes was 72% (98 of 137), compared to 45% for Pokrajac (36 of 80). The final overall striking total was 166-64 in Maldonado’s favor.

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CagePotato Stats: Longest UFC Win Streaks, All-Time and Current


(The pink-shirted gangster and the Canadian cover-boy have compiled the two longest win streaks in UFC history. Props: fightworld.com.br)

If Jim Miller can sock away his eighth consecutive UFC victory in August, he’ll become just the seventh fighter in the promotion’s history to accomplish that feat [ed. note: oh well]; Cain Velasquez also has a chance to join the club in November. [ed. note: He didn't, but Junior Dos Santos did.] With that in mind, we figured it would be a good time to publish a stats list of the UFC’s greatest win streaks — both all-time, and ongoing.

For the purposes of these lists, we only included fighters whose UFC win streaks were unbroken by draws or no-contests. However, if a fighter competed for different promotions between stints in the UFC, only the UFC fights are counted. If we’ve accidentally omitted somebody, please let us know in the comments section. And as with our previous stats liststimelines, and leaderboards, we’ll periodically update this page when there are changes. Now let’s get to the numbers…

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Jon Fitch Has Landed More Strikes Than Any Other UFC Fighter in History, and Other Bizarre Facts

Longest UFC Fights Edgar Sherk

Aside from being the decisionest decisioner who ever decisioned, UFC welterweight contender Jon Fitch also holds the record for the most total strikes landed in the Octagon — a staggering 1973, according to the new UFC Official Records page on FightMetric.com. Georges St. Pierre is a close second to Fitch with 1924 total strikes, but comes in first on the “Significant Strikes Landed” leaderboard with 892; Jon Fitch isn’t even in the top ten on that one.

Also surprising: Because of their multiple title fights and frequent decisions, Frank Edgar and Sean Sherk have average fight times of over 15 minutes. Plus, Anderson Silva is just one knockdown away from catching Chuck Liddell’s record of 14 KDs, Cheick Kongo has the fifth-best takedown accuracy in the UFC, and the hardest-to-hit fighter in UFC history isn’t Lyoto Machida or Georges St. Pierre — it’s TUF 4 vet Pete Spratt, who only ate 0.89 shots per minute during his 3-4 stint in the Octagon. (Yes, GSP is currently in second place on that list too.) Check out a few more notable FightMetric charts after the jump, and see the rest right here.

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Stats Confirm That Phan/Garcia Decision Was Indeed Bullshit

Leonard Garcia Nam Phan TUF 12 Finale UFC Ultimate Fighter
(Apparently, leaving your face open for repeated blows means you’re "dictating the action." Photo courtesy of UFC.com)

So another Leonard Garcia fight is in the books, which means it’s time to ask the judges, once again: Are you guys totally blind, or just legally blind, so that, you know, you can make out shapes and degrees of light, that kind of thing?  

Garcia’s split-decision victory over Nam Phan at Saturday’s TUF 12 Finale elicited immediate chants of "Bullshit!" from the Las Vegas fans, as well as a lengthy anti-NSAC rant from Joe Rogan. Did the judges see something we didn’t? Am I just biased by the fact that Phan is a likable underdog, and Garcia’s striking is an aesthetic nightmare that I can’t stand watching?

Well, no, as it turns out. According to FightMetric’s report on Phan/Garcia, the match should have been scored a 30-27 for Phan based solely on statistical effectiveness. Phan landed more "significant strikes" in every round, with only the first round being close (33-30 significant strikes in Phan’s favor). The second round was an obvious runaway for Phan (34-13 in the s.s. department, with a brief knockdown via side-kick) and the third was also a clear win for Phan (35-21). The only advantage Garcia had was his two takedowns (one apiece in rounds 2 and 3), neither of which led to any real damage.

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‘World’s Fastest Growing Sport’ — Fact or Hype?


UFC fanbase fastest growing sport fans NFL MLB NBA NASCAR NHL MLS

I always figured that calling MMA "the world’s fastest-growing sport" was mainly a promotional slogan, based more on allegorical evidence than actual numbers. So is the title deserved, or is it hot air? Using data mined from the Simmons Research Database, MMAPayout.com has published a new report breaking down the growth of the UFC in the United States over the past three years, compared to other major sports leagues — as well as information on age and gender demographics. We recommend checking out the whole thing if you have time, but here are some highlights:

– The UFC actually is the fastest-growing sports league in the country, pretty much by default. From 2007-2009, the NFL, MLB, NBA, NASCAR, and MLS (that’s soccer, you guys) actually suffered losses in their fan bases. The NHL’s fan base grew very slightly. By comparison, the UFC increasing their total number of fans by about 14% (and 30% among "avid" fans) seems like a monumental achievement.

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CagePotato Stats: The FIGHT! Magazine ‘Cover Curse’, Issue by Issue

Fight! Magazine Josh Koscheck cover 2010
(Damn. As if the "Having to Fight GSP" curse wasn’t bad enough… / Image courtesy of fightmagazine.com)

By Jim "jimbonics" Isaacs

So there I was, minding my own business, creating a masterpiece through MSPaint in honor of ReX13’s first Bellator article for the ‘Tater. Later that afternoon, after a WILD week in the comments section across all articles, I was honored with a “Comment of the Week” award and subsequently a subscription to FIGHT! Magazine. Sweet! It was the first thing I had won since a pinball contest in Nineteen Dickety-Two.

After a month of salivating and daily mailbox-checking, I had received no magazine. I was convinced I would not actually receive a prize, as hundreds of comments at CP over the past year alluded to. Then it happened. My mailbox was stuffed with bills I would never open, offers I would never respond to, and an extremely thick and glossy FIGHT! Magazine.

There is King Mo, in all his glory bling, staring at me. The first thought in my head was how he got his ass thoroughly beaten by Mousasi yet still won the belt based solely on takedowns. (Though he snared 11 of his 14 takedown attempts, if there was ever a fight to argue against the weight of takedowns in MMA scoring, it was that fight, but I digress). The second thought in my head was that he wouldn’t hold the belt very long, especially with the ultra-quick striker and BJJ black belt Feijão looming. I’m not saying, I’m just saying.

A month later the next magazine had wrestling specialist Kenny Florian on it. He went on to get Gray Maynarded. This got the wheels turning, and I decided to do a little investigating: Does the long-rumored FIGHT! Magazine Cover Curse actually exist?

Let’s start at the beginning, shall we?

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CagePotato Stats: The MMA Weigh-In Failure Leaderboard


(The moral of the story? When Gina Carano does it, it’s awesome. When Paulo Filho does it, it’s terrible. / Photo courtesy of CombatLifestyle.com
)

Anybody can be forgiven for missing weight by a half-pound — as long as it doesn’t become a habit. But when an MMA fighter comes in a full four pounds heavy, as Efrain Escudero did this week for his doomed UFC Fight Night 22 bout against Charles Oliveira, it tends to raise some eyebrows. As we’ve done previously with steroid busts, we decided to catalog the worst scale-fails in MMA history, arranged by number of pounds over the limit. When the information was available, we also listed the punishments the fighters were given, along with their excuses for missing weight, which range from injuries to salt water to the dreaded “menstrual period.” This is by no means a definitive list — but we’d like it be, eventually. So if you know of any other occasions where fighters missed weight by four pounds or more, or missed weight for multiple fights, please let us know in the comments section.

* Note: We’ve eliminated the “Repeat Offenders” section. In the instances where fighters has notably missed weight on more than one occasion (see: A. Johnson, P. Daley, T. Alves), we’ve ranked them in the leaderboard by their greatest weigh-in failure.

Lew Polley @ World Series of Fighting 4
Weigh-in date: 8/9/13
Weight: 237 pounds, 32 over the light-heavyweight limit
WTF?? No idea. We’ll let you know when we find out.
Result: Polley was immediately removed from his scheduled bout against Hans Stringer, and will likely be released from the promotion. Stringer was paid his show-money.

Karl Knothe @ Shark Fights 17
Weigh-in date: 7/14/11
Weight: 253.75 pounds, 23.75 over the 230-pound catchweight limit
How is that even possible? Due to some miscommunication between Knothe and his management, Knothe was never informed that his scheduled bout against Ricco Rodriguez was supposed to be at a catchweight, instead of at heavyweight.
Result: The Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation disallowed Knothe from competing due to the large weight-gap and concerns over excessive weight-cutting. Knothe was paid a portion of his salary anyway, while Ricco Rodriguez instead faced 5-12 replacement Doug Williams. Rodriguez won via rear-naked choke in the first round.

Ricardo Mayorga @ Omega MMA: Battle of the Americas
Weigh-in date: 5/2/13
Weight: 175.9 pounds, 20.9 pounds over the limit for his contracted lightweight match against Wesley Tiffer, who came in at 153. Needlessly to say, shoving ensued.
How was this fight even allowed to happen?: The match took place in Managua, Nicaragua — which is Mayorga’s hometown, by the way — and the Nicaraguan combat sports commission that was overseeing the event didn’t seem to have a problem with the ludicrous weight discrepancy. (I hear they’re much more stringent when it comes to cock-fighting.)
Result: Mayorga by TKO after two rounds, aided by a fairly illegal knee to the spine. Stay classy, Ricardo.
Update: The result was overturned to a no-contest the following week due to the illegal blow, and Mayorga was suspended from MMA for three months. Mayorga was last seen smoking an entire pack of cigarettes and giving less than half a fuck.

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CagePotato Stats: Active UFC Fighters With the Most Decisions


(Jon Fitch: Giving fans their money’s worth, in every way possible.)

He may not have reached Antonio McKee levels* yet, but Jon Fitch has certainly attracted an unwanted reputation for taking fights to the scorecards. When he faces Thiago Alves at UFC 117, he has the opportunity to break the record for most decision fights in the Octagon by an active UFC fighter. (Update: And he’s done it.) Check out the list below to see who’s currently leading the UFC in fights that go the distance. As with our performance bonus leaderboard, we’ll update this thing whenever possible; if we’ve missed any names that should be on the list, please let us know in the comments section…

Fighters With 11 Decisions in the UFC
Jon Fitch: 9-1-1 in those fights

Fighters With 10 Decisions in the UFC
Diego Sanchez: 7-3; last three fights have gone to decision
Tyson Griffin: 6-4
Tito Ortiz: 5-4-1
Sam Stout: 5-5

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