Originally posted at FightMatrix
Today, we look at the rate of stoppage losses and how it affects aging fighters. The critics against older fighters competing should have a good time with this one.
First, a few notes.
- I included TKOs, KOs, and DQs in the stoppages.
- The "dotted line" represents the sample average.
- The "red line" represents the trendline -- helping to smooth out the peaks and valleys.
The limits of the sample set shine through in this analysis, so I decided to toss the trend-line in. For the younger fighters, the stoppages account for less than 25% of the losses, but notice how that nearly doubles (on a trend-line basis) once the fighters get into their 40s.
With almost 3,000 birthdates now (nearly twice as many as before), we're now going to see if fighters get more complacent with age. This analysis looks at almost 28,000 fights, which I consider to be an acceptable sample set. Furthermore, I am only analyzing wins with known outcome types and am considered a finish as a TKO, KO, DQ or SUB.
I thought the increased sample set would help matters, but the peak after 40 is larger than ever and even starts in the late 30s this time. The logarithmic trendline still follows through with a consistent descent, but is nearly even at the end of the age range.
Are the older fighters likely fighting other older fighters and the eventual loser does not have the stamina to finish the fights? Or are the older fighters more likely to take soft touches? The sample set is now even more pronounced in that it is reflecting mainly the 21-31 year old fighters, so it's as if the trendline knows (without me telling it) that the weight supports data on the left side moreso than the right.
Today, we're going to look at a fighter's prime, and if a distinctive peak period can be ascertained by looking at a combination of age AND "career age" (time between debut date and fight date).
In most professional sports, it's usually agreed upon that a person's prime is between their late 20s and early-mid 30s, with women having the potential of reaching this prime a few years later.
First, I took all of the fight outcomes where a fighter had a valid birth date and grouped my counts by age and career age. For the record, a fighter's first year is treated as year 0, just like a person's age.
The Top 5 most commonly seen combinations are:
Not much of a surprise there. The typical MMA participant in a pro fight is in his/her early-mid 20s and has a year or two of experience.
When analyzing the combinations for peak period, I excluded all of the combinations with less than 25 fights. This eliminates almost everything above age 40 -- probably a good thing. I'm also eliminating all ages below 20 and all career ages below 5. In the previous charts, we saw aberrations in this zone that we can all agree are likely due to these fighters having the tendency to face many "soft touches". So what does that leave us with? A pretty clear picture.
The top 5 highest win percentages are found in:
The average combination found in the top 5 results being (28.8, 10), with the average in the top 25 being (28.2, 7.44). Surprisingly, the final result is much more straightforward than I expected. I thought I'd get a ton of outliers, but I really did not.
Given the results, it's pretty safe to say that the best winning percentages are going to come from fighters between age 27 and 33 that debuted between 18 and 21. The tight range on the debut age is most fascinating to me and it doesn't bode well for fighters getting into the pro game beyond their early 20's.
Part V Final Notes
- There is definitely a correlation between the typical "prime age" and total experience.
- Fighters who start fighting in their late teens are for the most part, managed very well -- at least early on.
- Fighters who hit roughly a decade of experience at or around age 30 are sitting pretty.
- I can't help but wonder about the multitude of fighters in the mid-late 30's and past 40 who are still putting up big win percentages after 15+ years in the sport.