The Big Picture: Which UFC Divisions Are Promoted the Most?

  We’ve heard that smaller guys get no respect, but is that really the case? Which weight classes are given highest billing, and who is more likely to appear on a main card relative to other divisions? Dana White recently suggested than when there’s multiple titles on the line, the ordering of top billing defers to the larger division. Hence, Ronda Rousey has twice defended her title in the co-main event of the evening, followed by larger fighters in the evening’s finale. However, as recently as UFC 169, the Bantamweight title was held as the main event with the longer reigning...

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Woo and Superstition in Martial Arts

  What I did on my summer vacation last year…. Last year I got to do something really, really cool…talk to 1,000 people about “woo” and superstition in Martial Arts. The video of our panel from The Amazing Meeting 2013 in Las Vegas has just been made available online by the James Randi Educational Foundation. The panel (from left to right) are: myself, retired Bellator fighter/science enthusiast Brent Weedman, David Jones of the Hiyaa! Podcast, and Evan Bernstein of the Skeptic’s guide to the Universe podcast. The panel is moderated by John Rennie, former...

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Hacking the Tale of the Tape: How Old is “Old” in the UFC?

  When I first started analyzing historical MMA data, a surprising variable immediately popped out. Fighter age was a critical factor in assessing matchups, leading to what I dubbed the “Youth Advantage” in MMA whereby younger fighters tend to outperform older ones, all other things being equal. The biggest difference in older fighters is not declining skill, but rather diminished resiliency. Once a fighter passes 31, it’s downhill from there. And beyond age 35, their risk of knockdowns is much higher than when they were younger. So when you look at the Tale of the Tape before a...

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MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference Presentation

  Last spring I once again attended the MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference, also known as “Dorkapalooza,” this time as a presenter. My presentation was part of the Evolution of Sport series, and what better topic for this than the rapidly evolving combat sport of Mixed Martial Arts. With a short time to present, and an audience somewhat unfamiliar with MMA, I chose to address longstanding questions about “Tale of the Tape” factors in combat sports. Professional mixed martial arts (MMA) is primal, yet simultaneously highly evolved. Regional dialects of combat...

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The Statistical Evolution of Robbie Lawler

  Fightnomics: The Evolution of Robbie Lawler By @Fightnomics   There’s been a lot of buzz about Matt Brown’s unlikely ascension to potential title contention after a violent string of upset knockouts. But let’s not forget that Robbie Lawler returned the UFC Octagon last year with a quick upset KO win of his own over Josh Koscheck at very long odds, and has looked impressive ever since. Lawler has scored stoppages in three of four UFC victories since returning, with his only loss coming by way of a 48-47 decision to John Hendricks in a title fight. Which is more remarkable?...

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Interview with Karyn Bryant

  For anyone who missed it earlier, I recently joined Karyn Bryant, UFC analyst and co-host of “UFC Tonight,” on her podcast at the UFC Fan Expo in Las Vegas. In this edition of The Karyn Bryant Podcast we discussed the strengths of some of the fighters competing that weekend, the use of stats and numbers in MMA…and Star Wars? Yes, Star Wars. It’s been a little too long since I watched the original trilogy and that may have to change!   Which stat highlights proved to be true? Here’s a direct link to our...

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