## Research Challenge - Better Later than Never

Any Chance for Partial Credit?

While I’m fully aware that this entry is much too late to be considered for promotion to the main page, I had originally planned to put this together in a timely fashion.  Unfortunately, other obligations got in the way and pushed this back.  So hopefully others will gain something from my thoughts and I can receive some feedback from my peers.

To lead off, I’m sure there are many more talented mathematicians than myself taking part in this challenge and perhaps they can draw some keen insight that I have clumsily overlooked or point out areas where my conclusions lack sufficient basis; however in my experience as a day-time data analyst I’ve found that the most useful analysis isn’t always the most mathematically rigorous (though a certain degree is always necessary) but rather those that take on uncommon perspectives and present the data in the most digestible fashion.  For this reason I’m going to forgo most math and statistical jargon and try to present my data graphically.

The question that has been put in front of us for analysis is whether or not reach matters in MMA.  This is an extremely open ended question that could take many   I think a few of the posts preceeding entries in this contest have adequately answered that there is a mathematical certainty that reach advantage does show a strong correlation with win percentage.  I have little to add here but some graphical representation of what has already been proven.

 Data Reach Advantage Matches Sum of Win% <-6 30 34.1% -6--4 89 44.9% -4--2 193 47.1% -2-0 329 52.0% 0-2 355 49.7% 2-4 258 49.1% 4-6 174 55.1% >6 58 65.9% Grand Total 1486 50.0%

What could be added here is that not only does reach advantage matter, but the nominal reach (meaning, the reach of a fighter regardless of the reach of his opponent) sheds some light on a few insights and may get away from the standard view of the research question of whether being lengthier than your opponent is advantageous.

 Data Reach # of Matches Finish% <67 127 43.3% 67-69 239 46.4% 69-71 499 57.7% 71-73 571 59.7% 73-75 625 61.6% 75-77 499 64.7% 77-79 305 68.2% >79 107 68.2% Grand Total 2972 60.0%

We can plainly see that finish rate of a fighter increases significantly and dramatically along with the nominal reach of a fighter.  While this is interesting, it has been previously touched on and is slightly inadequate.  All finishes are not created equal and we should not be content to presume that they are.  Fortunately the data provided allows us to go a few layers deeper.  For the below graphic I excluded submission due to injury.  This is the distribution of method of victory graphed along nominal reach.

 Sum of Match Category Reach Decision Sub KO/TKO Grand Total <67 38 14 7 59 67-69 66 30 19 115 69-71 101 74 70 245 71-73 103 84 79 266 73-75 116 87 105 308 75-77 77 75 92 244 77-79 54 40 68 162 >79 14 11 30 55 Grand Total 569 415 470 1454

We’ve already established that rangier fighters end fights in decisions at a slower clip.  The extra wrinkle that we can add here is that those lost decisions are being made up in KO/TKOs but not submissions.  The % of victories that occur due to submission does not show a strong relationship with the fighter’s reach while % of victories from TKO/KO and Decision (though in the opposite direction) obviously do.

The logical question here is why?  I have two theories, neither of which can be tested using the data provided.

<!--[if !supportLists]-->-          -  <!--[endif]-->The first theory is that the lengthier fighters are more likely in larger weight classes and carry more power and less stamina to defend themselves for the entire duration of a bout.  This could be easily verified by looking at the method of victory spread across weight classes.  My hypothesis would be that as you progress up through the weight classes you will see that decisions are less frequent, KO/TKO are more frequent, and submission wins hold relatively constant.

<!--[if !supportLists]-->-          -  <!--[endif]-->Next would be theory that fighting strategies and single discipline backgrounds vary across fighters of different lengths.  Do fighters from wrestling backgrounds tend to be stockier than those from striking backgrounds?  Do lengthier fighters tend to sprawl and brawl to use their reach rather than work offensive wrestling in search of a takedown?  This is harder to answer and could only be addressed using in-fight data such as the rate of takedown attempts performed by fighters of different reaches.

In closing I’m extremely excited about the premise of this challenge and only wished that I was able to submit a more timely entry into the discussion.

PS – I have one more graph that I found interesting but couldn’t think of how to work it into the main portion of the entry.  I grouped all submissions together into smaller groups to look at whether longer guys were in more danger of being caught in an armbar or leglock.  I didn’t see anything to suggest that was true, but what I did find surprised me.  Simply put, when longer fighters are submitted they are much less likely to get choked.

\The FanPosts are solely the subjective opinions of Bloody Elbow readers and do not necessarily reflect the views of Bloody Elbow editors or staff.

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