This post is part of a series of snapshots taken from the analyses of what is likely the only ever census of MMA fights (enuMMA17). Please see the table of contents for an up to date list of available instalments.

A few years ago I was assured that "all fights are 50/50". Surprising to say the least, especially from someone who had spent hours a day for over 4 decades to master various martial arts in order, one presumes, to increase his odds of winning. I realised (or at least hope) that what he meant was that there is always a winner & a loser. Also a misunderstanding but far less severe. There are 4 parts a fighter's record: [wins, losses, draws, no contests]. Those last 2 categories (draws & no contests) make up a small but important part of combat sports. I think we all wish that there could always be an outright winner, but for the sake of audiences we need time limits & judges.

How They All Ended

Our enumeration of professional MMA fights lead to ~227K fights with verifiable results. Breaking those results down into the broadest of groupings yields...

fig 01: Total Results by Method (1993 - 2017)

Historically, submission artists have outperformed, but that is history...

So it turns out that it's more like 48.85/48.85/2.3. As interesting as that analysis is it barely scratches the surface & is somewhat misleading. MMA is a young & evolving sport best view by trend.

Trends in the Results

fig 02: Total Results by Year (1993 - 2017)

The proportion of wins by strikes has been increasing for 20+ years. More decisions indicates better match making (more on this in a future post).

This chart exposes several interesting trends:

  • The proportion of finishes due to strikes has risen consistently over the past 20+ yrs. Strikes are dangerous from just about everywhere.
  • The proportion of fights going to the judges has risen over the same period. At least in part due to better match making.
  • The proportion of draws has decreased over the period. This can be attributed to rule changes. Pride FC as an e.g. initially called any match where there wasn't a clear winner (after extra time) a draw. The unified rules have also been tweaked in this regard e.g. 10/8 rounds being emphasised. Again the audience (& fighters) prefer a result even if they don't necessarily agree with it.
All of these trends are consistent with the dawning of the era of MMA 3.0. It is no longer good enough to be a master of one aspect. One needs to master MMA not it's components. Ideally one needs to focus on MMA from early on to master it's particular nuances & avoid 'default & comfort zone risk'

In our next snapshot we'll be breaking these results down by weightclass.

- mec