Many if not most MMA fans, athletes, coaches etc. consider Significant Strikes & Effective Striking as synonymous. The reality though is they are 2 very different concepts from 2 distinct domains. In short Significant Strikes is a metric 'invented' by FightMetric (now UFCstats) to measure, explain & forecast. Effective Striking on the other hand is a concept used in judging fights under the 'Unified Rules' (used by many but not all professional MMA promotions). There is overlap in that both have 'the ability to end the match' built into their definitions, but it is not the job of judges to count strikes (leave that to the quants).

Significant Strikes

counting strikes infographic (click on the image for the pdf version)

The above infographic is our attempt to concisely explain what data is collected on strikes by UFCstats. If you want to know more about the reasoning behind Significant Strikes see FightMetric's 2012 MIT Sloan presentation.

We do not entirely agree with the concept of Significant Strikes as measured by UFCstats, but it would require a recount of a massive sample of fights to argue the point. Beside we have different perspective when collecting metrics. QuantiFight, our inhouse system, was designed to give us, as coaches, more information about what our athletes are doing that's effective. The system does also present the 'FightMetric like' metrics for comparison.

Effective Striking

The Unified Rules of Mixed Martial Arts provides a list of 'prioritized criteria' for judging:

  1. Effective Striking/Grappling
  2. Effective Aggressiveness
  3. Fighting Area Control

"Effective Striking/Grappling shall be considered the first priority of round assessments. Effective Aggressiveness is a „Plan B‟ and should not be considered unless the judge does not see ANY advantage in the Effective Striking/Grappling realm. Cage/Ring Control („Plan C‟) should only be needed when ALL other criteria are 100% even for both competitors. This will be an extremely rare occurrence." - Unified Rules (emphasis ours)

& just to be sure:

effective (adj.):

producing a decided, decisive, or desired effect

Aside: Takedowns

Another area of misunderstanding is around the importance of takedowns & in particular the ability 'steal' a round with one.

"It shall be noted that a successful takedown is not merely a changing of position, but the establishment of an attack from the use of the takedown."

Could it be any clearer. It's not the takedown that matters, but what you do with it.

Soap Box Time:

Don't Critize the Juges Unless You Know the Rule

Judges are provided with a set of criteria by which they must judge a contest. The 'Unified Rules' discussed above provides a specific set of criteria, most notably the 10-point must system that means the fight is judged on a round-by-round basis & not as a whole. Rejecting the judging of 'arbitrary time periods' ONE Championship has adopted the Global Martial Arts Rule Set For Competition. Pride rules provided yet another set of criteria. It is quite conceivable that the same judge, judging the same fight under different rule sets would end up with different winners.

At the very least by understanding the rules you will be able to tell whether it is the judge or the rules you disagree with. A lot of the moaning about decisions that we see relates more to how people wish fights where judged, rather than how they are. & even when it is the judge you disagree with, remember they are responsible for making decisions in realtime & don't have the luxury of slomo replays.

Obviously that is not to say judges don't get it wrong FightMatrix's list of "Unusual (split) Decisions" has to make you wonder what those judges where actually watching.

- mec