Fightnomics: What Really Matters in Professional Fighting, and Some Surprising Things That Don’t

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Professional mixed martial arts (MMA) is primal, yet simultaneously highly evolved. Regional dialects of combat sports coalesced within the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), popularizing new syllables in the human language of aggression like “arm bar” and “spinning back fist.” Modern fighting now requires fluency in both striking and grappling arts, forcing a rapidly evolving hybrid sport. MMA, ultimately, killed the Kung Fu star.

Utilizing decades of detailed MMA performance data, basic advantages were quantitatively tested for the first time. Does size really matter in fighting? How does the Southpaw Advantage work? How is the “Tale of the Tape” misleading us? Additional (hidden) performance factors were also tested and weighed. It turns out there’s no such thing as a “fair” fight, not if you’re using analytics.

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