Fighting by Numbers: Finishing Rates and Weight Class

OAKLAND CA - AUGUST 07: Referee Josh Rosenthal stops the fight as Matt Hughes chokes Ricardo Almeida during the UFC Welterweight bout at Oracle Arena on August 7 2010 in Oakland California. (Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

A long, long time ago, I brashly refuted a piece by Josh Gross lamenting what he viewed as a disturbing trend in the downward spiral of submissions in MMA. No more than three months later, I brashly declared my point proven.

Thankfully, I haven't made any more more brash claims in the last year - at least in the area of submission rates in MMA. Bloody Elbow reader GeeDub, however, posted some of his own research on the topic without making an ass of himself. His research shows an increase in submission and decision rates with a decrease in KO rates. GeeDub also has separate graphs for UFC numbered events, minor UFC cards, and WEC shows. Go check it out.

I'm in the middle of a project to complement GeeDub's work. In the meantime, I saw that some people were interested in a breakdown of finishing rates by division, so here you go:

UFC Finishing Rates by Weight Class

TOTAL FIGHTS
TKO
SUB
DEC
OTHER
Lightweight
255
22.8%
31.4%
45.5%
0.4%
Welterweight
281
34.5%
24.6%
39.9%
0.1%
Middleweight
231
37.7%
31.6%
30.7%
0.0%
Light Heavyweight
179
41.9%
17.9%
38.0%
0.2%
Heavyweight
147
60.5%
15.7%
23.1%
0.7%

I used data from all UFC events from UFC 31 (the first UFC under the current weight limits) to the present. We're only looking at three round fights, so championship bouts are not included. Submissions via strikes and injuries are counted as TKOs. The "Other" category includes DQs, no contests, and other miscellaneous endings.

Most of this is intuitive. I'm curious about the spike in submissions at middleweight and decisions at light heavyweight. I suspect Demian Maia and Rousimar Palhares have skewed the middleweight submission data, but their 8 UFC submission victories represent only 3% of fights at that weight.

Stay tuned for more stats next week.

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