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UFC 100 Eve: MMA's Turn For A Statistical Revolution

Stephen Montemayor, one of our three interns, is a senior at the University of Kansas and sports editor of the University Daily Kansan. This is Super Bowl weekend in MMA: UFC 100 predictions are all over the place. UFC 100 results will be a top five google trend Sunday morning.

Remember the name Rami Genauer. He’s the Bill James of MMA.

I typed that sentence Thursday morning only to see a similar reference made in a BloodyElbow.com interview with the man. This is good. It means we’re on to something here.

Was thumbing through the premiere issue of UFC Magazine and noticed FightMetric.com referenced in a facts and records section.

The site, created by Genauer in Oct. 2007, is billed as “the world’s first comprehensive mixed martial arts statistics and analysis system.€ Since Aug. 2008, FightMetric.com has provided exclusive stats for UFC PPV broadcasts and various media.

Last week Genauer announced that, to commemorate Saturday’s UFC 100, his site completed a database of analysis of all modern-era UFC fights (every fight since UFC 28, when it adopted the Unified Rules of Mixed Martial Arts used today). That’s 900+ fights, 8,000 minutes of fight time, 37,000 strikes and 2,100+ takedowns – the site’s library has an additional 300 fights and 2,000 minutes.

Like sabermetrics, FightMetric.com has introduced a number of stat categories (67 in all) that could change the way we look at and discuss past, current and upcoming fights.

To name a few: SApM and SLpM(Strikes Absorbed/Landed Per Minute), HiPer and LoPer (High/Low percentage) Strikes, Takedown Success and Defense Rates and, of course, Knockdowns and Takedowns. It’s a cage fighting goldmine.

Most interesting is FightMetric.com’s Total Performance Ranking, used to measure a fighter’s performance. It’s comparable to the NFL’s pass efficiency rating except infinitely easier to understand. By awarding points for Volume, Accuracy, Dominance, Win/Loss, Method and Time, TPR supplements discussion on disputed fights and more explicitly illustrates dominating performances.

I too caught up with Genauer via email. Some highlights:

Q: What got you fired up to start FightMetric?

FightMetric really began as nothing more than a thought exercise. I was writing articles and columns about MMA and found it frustrating not to have any stats to use. Unless it’s a personality profile, nearly all good sports news articles will contain at least a few numbers. MMA had nothing. I took it as a challenge to try and imagine what an MMA statistics system would look like. The FightMetric system is the product of months of research and data analysis around how MMA fights actually work.

Q: Once you developed the concept for the system, what was the process of getting it up and running like?

Once we’d designed the system, i.e., the statistical categories we were going to track, we had to establish a scoring methodology. For these statistics to have any meaning, they have to all be based on the same criteria. Different scorers have to all adhere to the same set of rules before you get any consistency. So we had to make decisions about how things should be scored. For instance, we made the rule that jumping to guard does not count as a takedown. Only takedowns that wind you up in top position will count. This was a long process. Our scorer’s manual is over 50 single-spaced pages long.

Q: You mentioned things being a little crazy lately, how did you complete your Modern UFC database?

Completing the database was a matter of watching every fight in history twice, with large portions played back in slow motion. We use video editing equipment to watch footage so we can go frame-by-frame. MMA action happens so fast that unless you watch it in super slow-mo, you’re going to do a lot of guessing and approximation. We’re aiming for the most accurate stats humanly possible, so we’re not much for guessing and approximation.

Genauer couldn’t comment on FightMetric.com’s relationship with UFC. He also added that it was early to say if he’d consider writing some substantive essays or books. (So flood this good man’s inbox with requests for an annual prospectus).

Unfortunately, many statistics are exclusive to the outlets that pay for FightMetric.com’s services but Genauer has expressed that he would like to find a way to make them free to MMA fans while remaining a viable business. Make this happen, Rami.

For now, the site’s blog is starting to publish Fight Metric Fun Facts volumes worth reading.

 

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