Advanced Stats and Technology in the UFC

08/25/2022 - 15:59

Capturing fight statistics can be challenging to say the least. As time and technology have advanced, so too has our ability to capture fight statistics in real-time. Over time, an increasing number of statistics have found their way onto UFC broadcasts, from humble beginnings in 2012. In 2016, former Marine and MMA fighter Brian Stann was an early advocate for the potential positive benefits of increased use of data analytics in fighter training camps.

Advanced analytics are playing increasingly significant roles across major league sports of all varieties. Whether you are preparing for a fight or you want to bet on UFC, a great place to gain insight is to analyze a fighter's statistics. To have clear the UFC 277 odds, you should start by analyzing the Women's Bantamweight Championship title fight. 

Using fight metric statistics from both fighters' careers, their first fight, and the current UFC 277 odds, you may find the insight that helps you pick a winner. Some people have used these statistics and deep learning models to build a UFC fight prediction app. 

Statistically Telling the Story of A Fight

The UFC's fight metric system was designed by political writer Remi Genauer, who fell in love with MMA during the first season of the Ultimate Fighter. Deep into his newfound fandom, Genauer was disappointed in the lack of MMA statistics available. 

Genauer initially took it up himself and recorded every stat by hand, round by round, fight by fight. This manual labor established the base data set of UFC statistics, which all current UFC stats have been built upon since.

Today, the UFC's official stats are provided by fight metrics and captured with real-time data analysis. The UFC partnered with HEED to capture the in-fight action in data sets, adding the possibility for real-time statistics to be used on a live broadcast or for people looking to take advantage of UFC odds

A network of sensors in the mats and gloves, paired with artificial intelligence learning models, feed the data points into the AWS Internet of Things that powers HEED's data collection and modeling. The PFL is using a similar system, providing viewers with advanced fighter efficiency statistics akin to a Quarterback rating in football.

Buyer Beware! Betting Odds, Underdogs, and Upsets

Julianna Peña winning the UFC Women's Bantamweight Championship is amongst the largest upsets in combat sports history, based on UFC odds. It’s on the level of Matt Serra vs. George St. Pierre at UFC 69. 

At UFC 277, Peña will be defending the Bantamweight title against the former champion she dethroned: the greatest Female combat sports athlete of all time and the current UFC Women's Featherweight Champion Amanda Nunes. 

In their first fight, Peña entered the octagon as a +600 underdog, shocking the world by defeating the dominant and long-reigning double champion Nunes, who entered that fight as a -1000 favorite. 

Peña didn't narrowly win by decision; rather, she finished Nunes in the second round via rear-naked choke submission. Currently, Bantamweight champion Peña is the betting underdog, listed as high as +270, while Featherweight champion Nunes is the betting favorite (again), listed as the favorite with odds ranging between -275 and -305. 

What a Fight's Statistics Reveal: UFC 269 - Nunes vs. Peña 1

If you want to bet on UFC, you should know the first fight between Nunes and Peña was a tale of very different rounds. Nunes looked dangerous, landing heavy shots on Peña throughout the first round. Then, she got tired. 

Once Nunes started to slow down, Peña began sending a steady barrage of jabs at Nunes - one of Peña's shining and effective techniques in their first fight – until she got Nunes to the ground and earned the submission victory. 

In their first fight, Amanda Nunes clearly and statistically won the first round, landing 82% (22/27) of her strikes thrown, including 71% of significant strikes thrown (10/14, and controlling 3:35 of the first round. 

Peña countered, landing 50% (16/32) of her total strikes thrown, landing only 25% of her significant strikes thrown (5/20). However, Peña completely took over the fight in the second round. 

Peña landed 64% of her strikes thrown in the second round (74/115), taking a visibly exhausted Nunes down, finishing the fight via rear-naked choke at 3:36 of the second round. Peña only needed 17 seconds of control time to finish the fight.

 Nunes' second-round statistics and performance were awful: Nunes landed only 42% of her total strikes thrown (36/85), many of which were wild, sloppy, and characteristic of an exhausted fighter looking for one big punch to land.