Contributor: Dan Galvan
Using a pen, a paper, and a laptop that’s missing four keys, has several cracks in the screen, and contains a multitude of viruses, I’ve spent the last couple of weeks collecting and analyzing arbitrary data from the Ultimate Fighting Championship’s 2012 outing.
Honestly, I have no idea.
The stats aren’t groundbreaking, but they at least serve as an attempt to answer several questions about the silly sport that we call Mixed Martial Arts. Questions such as: How does a fighter perform after missing weight? Do lighter weight fighters actually have a higher decision rate than their heavier brethren? And has the MMA “media” published enough pointless Ronda Rousey stories yet?
So without further ado, let’s just bleed!
(A couple of quick notes – I considered fights where a fighter missed weight a catchweight bout, and I used the original result of fights that were deemed no contests due at a later point due to a drug suspension when collecting finishing statistics.)
Last year, there were thirty-one UFC cards that took place in eight different countries and twelve different states.
To no one’s surprise, Las Vegas was the home of the most UFC events in 2012 (six). California and New Jersey were the only other states to have featured more than one show (two). The other states that hosted Dana White’s traveling circus were Tennessee, Illinois, Nebraska, Georgia, Virginia, Florida, Colorado, Minnesota, and Washington. The most glaring omission from that list was my home state of Texas.
There were three events in both Brazil and Canada, two in Australia, and one in Macau, Japan, Sweden, and England.
In total, there were 341 fights contested under the UFC banner last year. Here’s a look at the percentage of fighters there were per weight class.
Fights in Division/Total UFC Fights
Heavyweight – 7.9%
Light Heavyweight – 7.6%
Middleweight – 13.5%
Welterweight – 18.5%
Lightweight – 19.4%
Featherweight – 15.2%
Bantamweight – 11.1%
Flyweight – 3.5%
Catchweight – 3.3%
What stands out to me is that there were more fights in the featherweight and bantamweight division than in heavyweight and light heavyweight classes. If you had asked which of the UFC divisions (excluding flyweight and catchweight) had the least amount of fights, the bantamweight and featherweight divisions would have been my initial two guesses.
The reason for that may very well be the match placement. Seemingly, there was a higher percentage of heavyweight and light heavyweight main card fights than there were featherweight and bantamweight. Instead of just assuming that thought, I actually looked at the placement of cards last year, and this is what I found.
Light Heavyweight: 6
Main Card Fights
Light Heavyweight: 9.7%
Preliminary Card Fights
Light Heavyweight: 5.9%
There were 13 championship (including interim belts) fights in 2012. The only regular title that wasn’t defended was the bantamweight championship (although an interim champion was crowned. The championships that were fought for repeated times in the year were the lightweight (three), welterweight (two), heavyweight (two), and light heavyweight (two) straps.
In 2012, there were 380 different fighters from 27 countries that fought inside of the octagon. 40% of them fought once, 42.9% of them fought twice, 15.5% of them fought three times, and 1.6% of them fought four times. The six fighters that fought four times were Daniel Pineda, Max Holloway, Michael Johnson, Mike Pierce, Matt Brown and Melvin Guillard.
The most common last name of UFC fighters was Silva (Jussier, Antonio, Thiago, Anderson, Wanderlei, and Erick), and the most common first name was John (Albert, Alessio, Cholish, Cofer, Dodson, Hathaway, Lineker, Maguire, Makdessi, Moraga, and Teixera).
46.9% of UFC fights that were schedule for three rounds went to a decision, 21.1% ended in submission, 29.3% ended by way of KO/TKO, and 2.6% ended by other means (DQ, Injury, and Doctor Stoppage). Here’s how it’s separated by weight class.
Heavyweight: 15.4% Dec, 15.4% Sub, 69.2% KO/TKO
Light Heavyweight: 37% Dec, 25.9% Sub, 25.9% KO/TKO, 11.1% Other
Middleweight: 50% Dec, 13% Sub, 32.6% KO/TKO, 4.3% Other
Welterweight: 48.4% Dec, 20.3% Sub, 26.6% KO/TKO, 4.7% Other
Lightweight: 56.9% Dec, 21.5% Sub, 20% KO/TKO, 1.5% Other
Featherweight: 53.8% Dec, 21.2% Sub, 25% KO/TKO
Bantamweight: 42.1% 31.6% Sub, 26.3% KO/TKO
Flyweight: 58.3% Dec, 16.7 % Sub, 25% KO/TKO
Catchweight: 36.4% Dec, 27.3% Sub, 36.4% KO/TKO
Thirteen different submissions were used to end fights in the year. From most times used to least times used here’s the list of submissions: rear-naked choke (28), guillotine (14), armbar (10), arm-triangle choke (4), triangle choke (3), triangle armbar (3), brabo choke (2) neck crank (2), keylock (1), calf slicer (1), north-south choke (1), anaconda choke (1), and heel hook (1). (There was one submission that I lost when collecting the data.)
Of the 152 fights that went to a decision, 78.3% of them were unanimous decisions, 19.7% of them were split decisions, and 2% of them were majority decisions.
An average three round UFC fight lasted 9:53. Here’s how the times were separated by weight class.
Average Fight Time
Heavyweight – 6:41
Light Heavyweight – 9:08
Middleweight – 11:02
Welterweight – 9:49
Lightweight – 11:06
Featherweight – 10:13
Bantamweight – 8:58
Flyweight – 11:40
Catchweight – 7:46
As stated earlier, 46.9% of fights went the distance. 31% of them ended in the first round, 16.2% of them ended in the second round, and 6% of them ended in third round. Here’s how they were separated by weight class.
Round Where Fight Ended
Heavyweight: 59.1% Rd. 1, 27.3% Rd. 2, 13.6% Dec
Light Heavyweight: 33.3% Rd. 1, 23.8% Rd. 2, 4.8% Rd. 3, 38.1% Dec
Middleweight: 15.9% Rd. 1, 18.2% Rd. 2, 11.4% Rd. 3, 54.5% Dec
Welterweight: 31.7% Rd. 1, 16.7 % Rd. 2, 6.7% Rd. 3, 45% Dec
Lightweight: 23.3% Rd. 1, 10% Rd. 2, 10% Rd. 3, 56.7% Dec
Featherweight: 30.6% Rd. 1, 12.2% Rd. 2, 2% Rd. 3, 55.1% Dec
Bantamweight: 42.1% Rd. 1, 13.2% Rd 2, 2.6% Rd 3, 42.1% Dec
Flyweight: 9.1% Rd 1, 27.3% Rd 2, 9.1% Rd 3, 54.5% Dec
Catchweight: 50% Rd 1, 20% Rd 2, 30% Dec
Three other trends I analyzed was how new fighters fared against fighters with UFC experience, the record of fighters who were coming of lay-offs (10 months or longer), and how successful fighters were after missing weight.
The record of new fighters versus UFC veterans was 22-33-2, 1 NC. In fights where the new fighter was the favorite to win they’re record was 10-8, which means that the record of underdogs was 12-25-2, 1 NC.
Fighters coming off of long breaks in competition had a combined record 28-27-1. Favorites had a record of 20-5, and underdogs had a record of 8-22-1.
Every UFC fighter that missed weight in 2012 lost their fight. With a combined record of 0-10, 70% of the fighters were underdogs. The most common weight class that fighters missed was the lightweight division.
Based on odds from BestFightOdds.com, underdog fighters won 32.1% of the time.
One cool facet of the Sherdog fight finder is that they keep track of which referees oversee which fights. According to the fight finder, there were 43 different officials. The referees that officiated the most UFC fights last year were Herb Dean (54), Marc Goddard (29), Josh Rosenthal (29), Dan Miragliotta (27), and Mario Yamasaki (26). Other notable referees were John McCarthy (10), Steve Mazzagatti (14), Kim Winslow (11), Leon Roberts (16), and Yves Lavigne (20).
Disclaimer and Thanks:
Firstly, there is no way that all of the statistics published in this article are 100% correct. There was plenty of room for error throughout the collection process. With that being said, I was patient with my calculations and checked my work regularly. I believe that the errors are miniscule and did not affect the way last year was portrayed in this article.
I would also like to thank Bloody Elbow writer Mookie Alexander. His statistical analysis pieces on BE over the past couple of years inspired this article. He’s an enjoyable, witty writer that you should follow on twitter (@MookieAlexander), read on Bloody Elbow, and have deep, sensual dreams about.
There were also a few websites that I used to derive the stats from. Sherdog’s fighter finder was absolutely essential. The fighter finder is probably the greatest American invention since the creation of Buffalo wings.
Lastly, BestFightOdds.com made finding odds simple. It’s a fantastic website that has a useful archive as well as up to minute odds on all of the upcoming cards.
-Dan can be reached @danielgal.