How Every UFC Fight Ended in 2014 (in one graph)
It was a whirlwind, friends! The year 2014 may be remembered most for storylines outside the cage, like the Reebok deal, the addition of the Women’s Strawweight division, the signing of CM Punk, and the continued global expansion. There was also bad news outside the cage, however, like the cancellation of UFC 176 and the sustained Injury Bug, the signing of CM Punk (!), and now the recent anti-trust lawsuit. But throughout 2014 there were also some fights inside the Octagon: 503 of them, spanning 46 UFC events.
And here’s how they all went down in one graph.
There’s plenty to take away from this one picture. First, it’s clear now that more than half of all UFC fights happen below 170 pounds. Keep in mind that in 2005 during the ramp up in popularity of the sport there weren’t any weight classes below Welterweight. Now they’re mostly below Welterweight. Times have changed, and the UFC (and many of the fighters within it) have gotten lighter. Now with two women’s divisions, the center of mass of the organization is within the 155-pound division where 107 fights took place in 2014, more than any other weight class.
And those smaller weight classes aren’t just filler either, as there were more men’s Flyweight, Bantamweight, and Featherweight fights (34, 60, and 62 respectively) fights than Light Heavyweight or Heavyweight matchups (31 and 32). They also fought for more belts.
Out of just 16 title fights in 2014, 10 of them occurred below Lightweight in divisions that didn’t exist before the full integration of the WEC roster. Only one division saw three title fights, the Bantamweights, while four legacy UFC divisions (Lightweight, Middleweight, Light Heavyweight and Heavyweight) all only held one title fight, as well as the brand new Women’s Strawweight division. That is perhaps the strongest symptom of the 2014 injury bug that softened many fight cards and even led to one event cancellation. So it’s a good thing the little guys (and gals) were there to pick up the slack.
The UFC now has 10 divisions, so even admitting that champions compete less frequently than the rest of the roster (champs average 2 fights a year versus 2.5 fights for everyone else), we should hope to see 20 title fights in 2014. That would be way more than any prior year.
From a macro-perspective, the overall finish rate was almost a dead even 50%. Eliminating Overturned fights and No Contests from the year’s total, we ended up with 153 T/KOs, exactly 97 submissions, and 247 decisions. Of those decisions, 188 were unanimous, while 59 were split or majority decisions, for a dissention rate of 24% – which is actually down slightly from the year before, but in line with the historical averages.
So what will 2015 bring? For one, the return of Anderson Silva and possibly Georges St-Pierre as non-champs could bring a new trend of superfights to boost the value of pay-per-view cards. Will long-standing champs like Aldo, Jones, and Rousey will continue their division dominance, or get dethroned? Will there be an outbreak of new celebrity fighter signings so we can finally see the Canseco-Shaq matchup we’ve all been wishing for. And what drama will unfold outside the cage? Each year has been an adventure in the rapidly evolving sport of MMA, and next year will be no different. Expect the unexpected!