A good finish to a fight is better than almost any decision. A knockout or submission provides a sense of totality and closure to a bout. It is what each MMA fan secretly craves, even if he or she pretends an exciting decision is “just as good.”
(All statistics are compiled by the author via Fightmatrix.com and cross-referenced with Sherdog's Fight Finder function)
The 22 fighters on the card for the June 13 event have a finishing rate of 74.9 percent overall. In other words, three of every four victories for the competitors are due to a stoppage.
The show is bottom-heavy with finishers. Main event participants combine for a 66 percent finishing rate. The bottom six fighters cap their victories with a finish 84 percent of the time.
Eight fighters across five bouts on UFC 161 enjoy finishing rates above 80 percent. Rashad Evans and Jake Shields are the only two participants who fail to finish more than half of their respective opponents.
Bigger guys punch harder and often gas faster. That adds up to finishes, and the largest weight class in the UFC finishes fights significantly more than the smaller classes.
The average finish for Top-40 Heavyweights in MMA is 83 percent. That places the heavies 10 percentage points above the Light Heavyweights who sit at 73 percent. All divisions below Lightweight have a finishing rate below 70 percent.
Pat Barry vs. Shawn Jordan and Roy Nelson vs. Stipe Miocic are bouts that have a strong opportunity of ending suddenly. These heavyweights are even more deadly than the class average across the sport. They possess an 88 percent combined finishing rate, almost ensuring the event will not hear the final bell.
The UFC will certainly hope such averages work in their favor.
Both the prelim and the main-card headliners for UFC 161 are near locks for decisions, based on the numbers.
Rashad Evans and Dan Henderson struggle to put opponents away, period. They possess two of the lowest finishing rates on the event roster. Henderson and Evans combine for a 46 percent finishing rate. Both have been finished in 33 percent of their losses. All told, signs point to a likely decision.
Headlining the televised prelims, Jake Shields vs. Tyrone Woodley does not promise a pre-decision finish, either. Shields possesses a sub-50 percent finishing rate, while Woodley has decisioned five of his last seven victims, dropping his finishing rate to 63 percent.
Roy Nelson has earned knockouts in 100 percent of his victorious efforts in the UFC. His career finishing rate sits at 84 percent, with only two decision wins to his name.
It is easy for fans to forget forget how talented the Renzo Gracie Black Belt is on the ground. He does not look or act like a submission specialist, and he continually knocks people out.
Regardless, Nelson has competed against the best in the ADCC tournaments, and has even bested Frank Mir in a tournament Grapplers Quest match (MMAMania.com).
Nelson may have 26 percent of his victories coming by way of submission, but it is hard to blame him for taking KOs where he can get them. When you are blessed with knockout power, and the fight starts out standing, it is best to just get it done and grab your paycheck.
While the knockout finish is still the favorite ending going into the bout, do not be surprised if Miocic, fearful of the wallop of Big Country, takes the fight to the mat. There he will likely realize his strategic error rather quickly.
Jake Shields is a finisher at heart, but he has lacked consistency throughout his career. Unfortunately for everyone other than Tyrone Woodley, Shields is in the midst of a finisher's dry spell.
Shields started his career by finishing three of his first four bouts. He then failed to finish opponents in eight of his next 10 victories. Shields rediscovered his submission game and finished eight fights in a row.
He broke his finishing streak with a decision over Jason Miller in 2010, and has not finished a fight since. Shields has participated six fights since the Miller bout. He has won three (four if you count his overturned fight with Ed Herman), and all have come via decision.
It is unlikely Shields will turn around his recent streak in the Woodley bout. Outside of Woodley falling over in all three rounds, Shields' best bet is to work his opponent against the cage, hold on, and wait for the bell.
If he does pull off a finish, he will make his way back to a 50 percent finish rate. While not a earth-shattering tally, it looks better than the current 48 percent he possesses.
Sam Stout knocked out Yves Edwards at UFC 131 in 2011 (Yahoo!Sports). The KO was the first finish victory for Stout since 2007. It is also his last to date.
Stout has six UFC decision wins to go along with his five decision losses. Stout's UFC finishing rate is 14 percent. His UFC combined stoppage rate is 8 percent overall. The optimist would point out that the latter number illustrates Stout is a tough-as-nails competitor who has never been finished.
Stout is not a poor fighter, but his lack of finishes keeps him out of the minds of more casual fans. Without the ability to finish at least semi-consistently, one can be easily forgotten. Just ask Jon Fitch.
Dustin Pague and Ronald Delorme have never failed to finish in their combined 27 victories. Both men are submission specialists pitted against strikers at UFC 161. Pague will face Yves Jabouin, while Delorme takes on Edwin Figueroa.
Pague has earned 72 percent of his victories by way of submission. Delorme has six of his eight victories via the tap. Both will see opponents who undoubtedly worked on how to avoid being put on the mat. That will make a win difficult for both Pague and Delorme, but a decision win is even less likely for both.
Delorme will have less trouble with grabbing the takedowns against Figueroa. Jabouin possesses more mobility and is more likely to use knees during a shot or clinch attempt. That said, Figueroa finishes more often than Jabouin, at 88 percent and 66 percent, respectively.
The likely outcome is both Pague and Delorme lose, either by decision or (T)KO. Both will be beaten to the punch and peppered with jabs and kicks outside the pocket. If either do find a way to win, it will likely come via submission, preserving their 100 percent finishing rate. Both Jabouin and Figueroa have tapped multiple times.