Analysis of UFC statistics part 3: Fight statistics

Data Projects / Published Sep 9, 2022

Welcome to the final chapter of my 3-part series where I look into UFC events data. First, I recommend you read parts 1 and 2 first so that you have the full context of this project. The focus of this chapter is data from the UFC’s main product: fights. Fights are the core of the UFC, and we can extract several interesting numbers from fights. Let’s talk the following points about fights:

• Distribution of in-fight statistics
• Distribution of fight finishes/endings

(For a more thorough analysis, you can check this notebook)

Distribution of in-fight statistics

• The mean fight duration is 10 minutes
• The 75% quartile and max fight duration correspond to 3-round (the most common) and 5-round fights, where every round lasts 5 minutes
• The min fight duration corresponds to Jorge Masvidal 5-second KO of Ben Askren at UFC 239

• The maximum value of every statistic is much higher than its 75% quartile.

For every fight statistic, let’s talk about which fight (and fighters) produced the most extreme numbers.

Fighter 1 corresponds to the winner of the fight (if the fight had a winner declared). Except for significant strikes, which are roughly normally distributed, all fight statistics are skewed to the right. Let’s explore each of the 4 fight statistics

• In the two fights with the highest significant strikes (445 and 290 strikes landed by fighter 1), fighter 1 is Max Holloway, who is known for his pace and striking volume
• The “loser” with the most significant strikes landed (186) is Joanna Jędrzejczyk, in her fight of the year (2019) against Zhang Weili.

• The median of knockdowns is 0, which means that usually no knockdowns are scored in a fight. There are two fights where fighter 1 landed 5 knockdowns. Ironically, both ended in a judge’s decision.
• Conversely, there are two fights in which fighter 2 landed 3 knockdowns, which still was not enough to make fighter 2 the winner.

• The median of takedowns for fighter 1 is 1, that means that usually a fighter who wins scores at least one takedown.
• The fights that had the most submission attempts for fighter 1 and 2 did not end in a submission.

Distribution of fight finishes/endings

For context, a fight ends after three or five 5-minute rounds have passed. In that case, the winner of the fight is decided by the judges (draws are possible). However, a fight can get stopped at any time if one of the fighters gets KO/TKOd or submitted. It is also possible the fight gets overturned or declared a no contest (CNC). Additionally, fighters can get disqualified. With that being said, let’s explore how fights usually end.

What are the most common endings for a fight?

98% of fights have a declared winner. 2% of fights end in either a draw or no contest.

53% of fights end in KO/TKO or submission, which means there is a high chance you finish or get finished if you fight in the UFC. However, what happens when a fight does not finish by KO or submission?

If a fight does not get stopped by KO or sub and goes to the judges’ decision, in most cases all judges will agree on the winner AND the score. Now, if a fight gets stopped, why exactly would it get stopped (usually)?

What are the most common fight-finishing methods?

Two things to note here. First, punches seem to be more effective than kicks (or rather, it is harder to be good enough at kicking than punching). Second, the rear naked choke (RNC) has produced more finishes than the next two submissions (Guillotine and Armbar) combined.

Conclusion

First, we took a look at per fight statistics. Outside a few outliers, per fight statistics don’t have much variability. Then we found that (fortunately for the UFC) most fights have a legitimate result. About fight results, most fights end in either KO/TKO or submission, particularly by punches and chokes. However, the most common result is unanimous decision.

This was the last chapter of my 3-part series analyzing UFC events data. I hope you enjoyed this trilogy.