Worst Title Fight Ever? Check the Numbers

Promoted to the front page from the FanPosts by Luke Thomas.


Having a historical database of statistics is nice because it allows you to answer the question: In the grand scheme of things, how bad was the Silva-Leites fight? Was it just a little bad, historically bad, or the worst title fight of all time? To answer this question, we're going to analyze three different statistics:


Total "Events": An "event" in this case means anything that happens in a fight no matter how trivial. This includes every strike attempt, no matter how small, and also has all takedown attempts, standups, position changes, and submissions. A fight with a low total number of "events" would be one where the guys just stood around for a while.


Total Significant "Events": This number takes away all the low-value strike attempts (like the tiny jabs in the clinch and on the ground) and all defensive grappling actions. A fight with a low number of significant events probably meant a lot of time stalling in the clinch or a lay-and-pray situtation where only little shots were thrown.


Significant Strikes Landed: This is the total number of high-value strikes landed. If you don’t care much about activity and only care about watching two guys wail on each other, this is the measure for you.


The four title fights that we'll be looking at are Silva-Leites, Arlovski-Sylvia III, Pulver-Hallman, and Ortiz-Matyushenko. The numbers you see will be the combined totals for both fighters in the match.


Total "Events"


Silva-Leites: 236

Pulver-Hallman: 247

Ortiz-Matyushenko: 420

Arlovski-Sylvia III: 594


To start, we see that the title fight last night had the lowest total activity of any five-round decision in UFC history. To get an idea for how low 236 total events is, consider that 236 over 25 minutes means less than 10 events per minute. Average that across both fighters and it's less than 5 events per minute per fighter. That means that if you spaced these events evenly over the course of the fight, for every one thing a fighter did (no matter how small), you'd have to wait about 12 more seconds before he did anything again.



Total Significant "Events"


Ortiz-Matyushenko: 107

Pulver-Hallman: 123
Silva-Leites: 176

Arlovski-Sylvia III: 588


The thing about last night's fight was that there wasn't a lot of hugging or laying. When either fighter threw something, it tended to be significant, even if just a leg kick. If you want to see two guys do nothing major to each other for nearly a half-hour, watch Ortiz-Matyushenko, where you'd have to wait more than 35 seconds between significant events, if they were spaced evenly.


Significant Strikes Landed


Ortiz-Matyushenko: 40

Pulver-Hallman: 41

Silva-Leites: 92
Arlovski-Sylvia III: 160


The question here is whether to consider leg kicks as significant or not. We are counting them in this number, but if you eliminate them, then Silva-Leites drops to just 45 significant strikes landed, much closer to the top two.




First, it seems that Arlovski-Sylvia III gets a bad rap. It was derided at the time, but probably because most fans couldn't remember back to UFC 33, which got the double dose or Ortiz-Matyushenko AND Pulver-Hallman. By any measure here, Arlovski and Sylvia put on a barn-burner compared to the other three.


The deciding factor for the worst title fight comes down to which you dislike more: watching a bunch of boring stuff or watching not much stuff at all. If it's the former, then Ortiz-Matyushenko comes in as the worst because, while a lot of things happened, very few of them were worth caring about. If it's the latter, then Silva-Leites is worst because less stuff of any kind happened at all.


In the end, our money is on the hybrid approach, in which case we have to give the nod to Pulver-Hallman, which had nearly as little total activity as Silva-Leites, and had nearly as little significant activity as Ortiz-Matyushenko.


What do you think?

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