Promoted from the FanPosts by Kid Nate.
Submissions have long been something that has seperated MMA from the other combative sports. K-1, Boxing, even WCL all have the "beautiful" artform that is the striking game, and while MMA has some of those aspects, we don't see the "beautiful" part of it as much in MMA because there are so many more aspects fighters must worry about.
Mike Fagan wrote an article recently countering Josh Gross's argument that submissions are on the decline in this sport. With some solid calculations, he came up with the conclusion that the rate over the last three years has remained steady at around 25%.
My aim is to take that figure and try to prove that it's heavily consistent with the overall landscape of MMA. By taking data used to calculate the Strength of Record statistics that were seen here at BloodyElbow.com yesterday, I've come up with percentages that are very broad and almost cover all fights within the sport over the last 12 years.
The formula is quite simple. Total # of Submission finishes / Total # of fights, all grouped by Year.
2009 818/1979 = 41.33%
2008 4542/10470 = 43.38%
2007 4588/10541 = 43.53%
2006 3957/9006 = 43.93%
2005 2716/6121 = 44.38%
2004 2158/5064 = 42.62%
2003 2308/5089 = 45.35%
2002 1729/3863 = 44.76%
2001 1349/2756 = 48.92%
2000 1188/2314 = 51.33%
1999 1066/1916 = 55.63%
1998 726/1345 = 54.00%
1997 507/900 = 56.27%
Not only do Mike's calculations hold water in the broader landscape of MMA, but the above statistics show a steady rate for roughly a decade. The earlier numbers are either because most fighters fought against standup fighters who thought they could simply pummel jiu-jitsu/grapplers, or because there is insufficient data as to how many fights actually went on back in those days. Either way, submission rates have remained steady in the 43-45% range for the last few years and will probably do the same this year.
So, in a much broader sense, submission rates are not on the decline. They've remained steady for a number of years. In the limelight of the UFC, perhaps they have began to diminish, but I'd attribute this to the entire issue revolving around what makes an exciting fight and what the UFC likes in a fighter. That's likely the reason.
CORRECTION: Just realized my data has two sets of fights in it purposely for other stats, so I reran the statistics and they are actually the correct percentages, but the total number of fights is halved.