Around this time last year, I wrote an article entitled Ultimate Fighting Championship: Crunching The Numbers, where I broke down the statistics for every UFC fight of the Zuffa era (UFC 31 through UFC 92). With the UFC's final event of 2009 in the books, it is once again time to crunch the numbers.
Before we start, here are a few things to keep in mind:
1) Unlike my previous article, I collected data from every UFC event of 2009, not just PPV events. This includes Ultimate Fighter Finales and UFC Fight Nights.
2) Catchweight bouts include scheduled catchweight bouts (i.e. Rich Franklin vs. Vitor Belfort), as well as ones created by fighters missing weight (i.e. Anthony Johnson vs. Yoshiyuki Yoshida).
3) Title fights include title defenses and unifications.
4) Decisions include unanimous, majority, and split.
5) Knockouts include KO's, referee stoppages, and injuries.
There were a total of 216 fights inside the octagon in 2009. Of these 216 fights, 73 ended by knockout, 49 by submission, 65 by unanimous decision, and 25 by split decision. There has also been a majority decision, a draw, a disqualification, and a no contest.
The lightweights fought 55 times. Up until 2009, 47 percent of lightweight fights went the distance. This year, they went the distance only 42 percent of the time. Their submission percentage increased (34 percent up from 27 percent), and their knockout percentage remained the same (24 percent).
Welterweight was the busiest division with 56 fights. Until 2008, the welterweights had nearly an equal number of knockouts (39), submissions (34), and unanimous decisions (36). In 2009, they had 18 knockouts, 18 unanimous decisions, and only 10 submissions.
The middleweights fought just 36 times in 2009. They were almost even across the board with 14 decisions, 12 knockouts, and 10 submissions. Until 2009, only 29 percent of middleweight fights went the distance. This year, they went the distance 39 percent of the time.
The light heavyweights fought 34 times. Until 2009, nearly one half of all light heavyweight fights ended by knockout. This year, only one third of the fights ended by knockout.
The heavyweights were the least busy division, fighting only 26 times. 21 of the fights (81 percent) ended early, including 15 knockouts.
There were nine catchweight fights—five knockouts and four unanimous decisions.
There were eight title fights in 2009—two in each the lightweight, welterweight, and light heavyweight divisions, one in each the middleweight and heavyweight divisions. Of the eight fights, three went the distance, four ended via KO, and one ended via submission.
Did you know?
-Krzysztof Soszynski (kimura) and Jon Jones (guillotine) were the only light heavyweights to win by submission.
-Jon Jones also had the only DQ of 2009 (illegal elbows). There have only been four DQ's in UFC history, and three have come in the light heavyweight division.
-UFC Fight Night: Lauzon vs. Stephens and UFC 103: Belfort vs. Franklin tied for the highest number of stoppages with nine.
-UFC 94 set a UFC record with five split-decisions (Karo Parisyan's victory over Dong Hyun Kim was later ruled a NC).
-Parisyan/Kim was the only NC of the year.
-Between UFC 31 and UFC 92, only two middleweight fights ended via split decision. In 2009 alone, there were four.
-Between UFC 31 and UFC 92, 53 of the 63 PPV events (84 percent) included at least one title fight. In 2009, only seven of the 15 PPV events (47 percent) had title fights.
-Champions successfully defended their titles 87.5 percent of the time. Lyoto Machida was the only new champion of 2009.
-The guillotine was the most lethal submission of the year with 16 victories. The rear naked choke was a close second with 13 victories.
-The only armbars, d'arce chokes and anaconda chokes came in the lightweight division.
-Best gyms in MMA? Jackson's (11-12), Xtreme Couture (9-12), and American Top Team (8-12) all finished the year with sub .500 records. Black House/Team Nogueira (9-0) and American Kickboxing Academy (9-3) fared much better.
Storylines to follow in 2010:
-There were 25 split decisions in 2009, a dramatic increase from previous years. Are fighters more evenly matched, or are judges simply becoming more indecisive?
-On that same note, in the history of the UFC, no title fight has ever been decided by split decision. Will 2010 be different? Machida vs. Shogun II, perhaps?
-Since the Zuffa era began, Matt Hughes and/or Georges St-Pierre have been involved in every welterweight title fight. Will GSP vacate the belt and move to 185?
-BJ Penn has defeated every other lightweight champion in UFC history. Will 2010 be the year he vacates the belt?
-In 2004 and 2006, every heavyweight fight ended via stoppage. How many heavyweight fights will go the distance in 2010?
That concludes the statistical breakdown of 2009. It'll be interesting to see what's in store for MMA fans in the upcoming year. Happy holidays, everyone.