UFC Welterweight Josh Koscheck will face off against 28-year-old Johny Hendricks as part of the UFC on Fox 3 broadcast television card on Saturday, May 5th. Koscheck is 34.The two fighters are stylistically very similar. Both men were NCAA Division 1 wrestling national champions in college. Both men have supplemented their wrestling with power punching, racking up KO wins as well as decisions.
The most obvious difference between the two fighters is that Hendricks is a southpaw and Koscheck is a right-handed power bomber. A fight between opposite-stance power punchers always features a high likelihood of a knock out or TKO as both fighters are exposed to the power punch of their opponent.
But Luke Thomas at MMA Fighting and the crew at Fight Metric (with the help of the Bloody Elbow community) have taken a deep look at the statistics of MMA and argue that it's Hendricks' youth that could well be the biggest factor in the fight.
What do we know about age and how it affects performance in MMA? There are two key takeaways every MMA fan should know: younger fighters on average never win less than 50% of the time and older fighters are much more likely to lose by TKO/KO than by decision.
We'll look at some stats and charts in the full entry...
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First, let's answer the basic question: do younger fighters win more often? Statistically speaking, the answer is yes. Consider the following:
Winner is Younger Winner is Older All Fights Total Fights 1489 (57%) 1111 (43%) 2600* (T)KO Wins 559 (61%) 359 (39%) 918 Sub Wins 422 (57%) 322 (43%) 744 Dec Wins 505 (54%) 430 (46%) 935 Mean Winner's Age 27.0 31.0 28.7 Mean Loser's Age 31.8 27.1 29.8 Mean Age Difference 4.8 4.0 4.4 Mean Fight Length 08:57 09:50 09:20
Younger fighters tend to win more and sometimes by big margins, but it's when researchers factored in the method of victory things got really interesting. "Variation by type of victory depends on the age of the older fighter, not on the age of the younger fighter," the researchers said. "More precisely, we can say that as the older fighter's age increases, his chance of getting knocked out increases substantially, his chance of getting submitted increases but somewhat less, but his chance of losing a decision stays relatively flat":
Now don't assume that Luke is blithely writing off Koscheck in this fight. The odds are even and Koscheck's chances of winning go up the longer the fight lasts. But Luke is pointing out that the age difference IS a factor and it's definitely working in Hendricks' favor.