Earlier this month, I promised you folks some more numbers after I posted the finishing rates by weight class in the UFC. It took me longer than I anticipated to compile the data – I spent hours staring at my laptop putting it together manually, but I have all sorts of fun stuff to look at over the next few weeks.
I put this project together because looking at finishing rates for the organization as a whole isn’t really a complete picture. As I posted in the above link, heavyweights tend to finish more fights than lightweights. Lightweights through middleweights tend to finish more fights by submission than light heavyweights and heavyweights. If we see a sudden spike in decisions, we might be able to pin it on a deficiency of weight in the Octagon.
We’ll get to that in the future. For now, I want to show you the distribution of fights by weight class. I compiled data of non-title fights* from UFC 31 to UFC 121 in ten-card sliding windows.
First, let’s look at the number of non-title fights the UFC offers per ten cards. (Note: Click the images for a higher resolution version.)
We find nothing surprising here. The UFC has been able to deliver more fights per event as the sport and the organization have grown over the past decade. I suspect we’ve hit a pleateau; the UFC is more likely to offer more events rather than more fights per event in the future.
This next graphs shows the amount of UFC fights by weight class.
That blue valley represents Dark Times for the lightweights between UFC 50 and UFC 57. You can also find a lot of the TUF seasons by the peaks for each weight class. For instance, the high point for heavyweights toward the end of the graph is the mid-point between the TUF 10 Finale. TUFs 1 and 7 create the huge middleweight spikes in the beginning and middle of the graph.
Otherwise, the distribution remains fairly consistent over the last half of the graph (roughly UFC 73 to present): lightweights and welterweights make up the majority of fights, light heavyweights and heavyweights about one-third, and middleweights about one-fifth.
This is mostly just graph porn, but it’s an important foundation heading forward as the distribution of fights by weight class has some effect on the overall finishing rate.
* – There was some discussion about this in the comments of my last piece. To me, a three-round fight is different enough from a five-round fight to make them incomparable. There are ten extra minutes of fight time which results in a increased finishing rate per fight, not to mention the argument that tactics change with two more rounds to deal with. In my mind, this is akin to separating power play and even strength data in hockey.
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