Those of you wondering “If it just me or is MMA getting less exciting” – well, the stats are in, and it’s just you. FightNomics takes a look at the pace UFC fighters are throwing strikes, and it’s only going up, up, up:
Since 2007, UFC fighters average 6.8 significant strikes per minute (SSpM) of fight time. Again, this is not just while standing, but also from dominant clinch and ground positions. Significant strikes do damage, score knockdowns, set up submissions, or cause referees to jump in for the save. Significant strikes generally define the action in a fight, and as the analysis shows, fighter output by this metric has changed drastically since the early years of the UFC.
Through the 1990’s, UFC fighters attempted an average of only 2.8 significant strikes per minute. Averages for UFC fighters then more than doubled to 6.9 SSpM after the sport matured under Fertitta’s Zuffa umbrella. Modern UFC fighters also score more knockdowns and throw a slightly higher percentage of power strikes than the old guard, further suggesting greater endurance.
In terms of accuracy, about 58% of these significant strikes land on target. This rate has not changed much in recent years as fighters improved simultaneously on both offense and defense, and there is greater consistency in fighter training and quality. But compared to the early years of the UFC, accuracy is much higher for modern fighters. The pattern is clear. Competition is a strong force, and as the sport has grown and evolved, MMA athletes have stepped up their game and their overall level of fitness and skill to bring a better conditioned product into the Octagon. We as fans should expect that the best is yet to come.
The only issue I have here with methodology is that ‘significant strikes’ encompasses way too much. Sure, there’s been an increase in pawing jabs and shin kicks, but does that really mean fights are more exciting than they were five years ago?