UFC Fight Night Bonuses: Patterns in the Data

Frequently up for debate in the MMA community is who should have won the Fight of the Night, Submission of the Night and Knockout of the Night bonus from the previous nights fights. We decided to take a look at the underlying data to see whether certain patterns exist. For instance, it seems that it is rare that a non-main card fighter gets a fight of the night bonus, and even rarer that a Facebook fighter gets any bonus at all. Does this pattern actually exist or is it a bias that our mind has fabricated?

We begin with a graph that shows the relative proportion of fights by card position along with the proportion of bonuses.

Data collected over the last 636 UFC fights.

Data collected over the last 636 UFC fights.

The graph clearly demonstrates that bonuses are disproportianately awarded to fighters on the main card (as a supplement, Reed Kuhn of Fightnomics analyzed fight night bonuses by fight card position and found a similar results) Interestingly, submission of the night is actually the least awarded bonus (on multiple occassions in our data it was not awarded because there were no submissions), and actually appears to be the least biased fight night bonus. For fighters fighting on the early prelims (Facebook card), their probability of getting a submission of the night award almost perfectly lines up with the proportion of fights that take place on the early undercard. For main card fighters, the probability of getting submission of the night is slightly too high, but that could be due to the small sample size rather than there actually being an underlying bias and the same goes for the prelims fighters. Similarly to fight of the night, knockout of the night is disproportionately awarded to main card fighters.

In addition to card position, we can look at weight classes that tend to win fight night bonuses.

UFC Fight Night Bonus Graphed By Weight Class

What immediately stands out to us is the disproportionate number of fight of the night bonuses awarded to lightweight fighters. At 16, it more than doubles the number of fight of the night bonuses earned by any other weight class. It is quite possible that 155 pound fighters are the perfect combination of speed, power and endurance to produce extremely exciting fights. In terms of fight of the night bonuses, there don’t seem to be any further anomalies by weight class in the data. For submission of the night, again lightweights stand out with a sizable advantage in terms of bonuses given. At 14, there are almost double as many awards given to lightweights as any other weight class. Besides middleweights seeming slightly low, the rest of the data lines up just about how we’d expect. We should also note that at this point flyweight fights still make up a small percentage of total fights so the data for the flyweight division is expected to be lower than any other division. As most people would expect, heavyweights lead for knockout of the night awards, what isn’t expected however is that welterweights are tied for first. As expected, from welterweight down, the number of knockout of the night awards drops with the power possessed by fighters in the division. What is very strange about the knockout of the night bonus awards is how few go to light heavyweight and middleweight fighters. Many would expect, given the power in both those divisions that there would be a huge number of KOTN awards. The likely caveat, is that fighters realize the power of their opponent and thus set up their game plans to avoid absorbing a knockout blow.

Use This Data To Your Advantage

If you are a non-main card fighter, you should aim to submit your opponents if you want to win bonuses. Since submissions happen less frequently than knockouts, you have a better chance of winning a fight night bonus by locking up a nasty submission than by knocking someone unconscious.

If you are betting on the fights and would like to bet on the bonuses, look for great main card match-ups in the lightweight division to place your money on for fight of the night. For submission of the night as well, look for submission specialists in the lightweight division, but also consider welterweights, featherweights and bantamweights. Position on the card for submission of the night has been shown to not be as important. For knockout of the night, look for heavy-handed heavyweights and welterweights. Jake Ellenberger, Johnny Hendricks, Roy Nelson and Mark Hunt jump immediately to mind. If you can correctly predict who will land these bonuses on a given night, there is some serious cash coming your way.

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UFC 163: Aldo vs Jung Full Predictions and Bets

UFC 163 is less than a week away now and we’re here a little earlier than usual to bring you our full picks. The reason we’re early with our picks for this event is that there is a serious limit of statistics for the fighters involved. Interestingly, for this pay-per-view card, we will only be able to predict 3 fights. In contrast, we can predict 9 fights for the UFC’s debut on Fox Sports 1 in the middle of August. The fights will be in the standard UFC pa-per-view time slot, with the Facebook prelims starting at 6:30 pm, the FX prelims at 8 pm and the main card starting at 10pm ET.

In the main event, highly ranked pound for pound fighter, Jose Aldo will face “The Korean Zombie” Chan Sung Jung. Jung is a strange choice to challenge for the featherweight strap. He fought just twice in 2012 picking up a sbmission win in his rematch with Leonard Garcia and a KO win over Mark Hominick. In 2013 so far, he was able to submit Dustin Poirier. The three straight wins however, should not put him at the front of the line for a title shot. Prior to the win streak, Jung was 1-3, with losses to Garcia, Goerge Roop and Masanori Kanehara (who?). The title shot is likely more of an indicator of the UFC’s ambition to grow its business in Asia rather than a reflection of Jung’s ability as a fighter. Ricardo Lamas, who was supposed to fight Jung at UFC 162 and is ranked ahead of Jung in the UFC’s rankings would have been a better choice. Regardless, the fight is set and we will offer our prediction. Aldo has won all four of his UFC featherweight championship defenses. Prior to that, he was able to defend the WEC strap on 3 occassions and has been undefeated since November, 2005. Our model has Aldo as a huge favourite in this one. So much so, that even at the 1.15 to 1 odds on Aldo to win, there is probably a positive EV in placing a bet. Following in our current strategy, where we try to be smarter in the bets we place, we decided to place a 1 unit bet at 4.47 to 1 on Aldo winning by decision. We feel this bet is a strong candidate to cash, given that these are featherweights fighting, Jung has a granite chin (as demonstrated in the first bout vs Garcia) and Aldo has gone to the score cards in 4 of his last 6 fights.

In the co-main event of the night, light heavyweights Lyoto Machida and Phil Davis will do battle. Our model has Machida as the more likely victor, but the edge is slight and at 1.30 to 1, we can’t justify placing a bet. We do see a decision as his most likely route to victory, but the odds on that are only 2.03 to 1. Intriguingly, the odds on Machida to win inside the distance sit at 3.05 to 1. While we feel the fight is more likely to be a snooze fest with both fighters being relatively tentative, the possibility of Machida scoring a knockout victory is definitely still there. The winner of this fight, especially if it is in devastating fashion, could be the next to challenge for the light heavyweight title. Both men sit in the top 10 for UFC light heavyweights, Machida at #1 and Davis at #8. Machida comes into this fight with 2 straight wins over others in the top 10 in Dan Henderson and Ryan Bader. Davis holds career wins over Antonio Rogerio Nogueira, Tim Boetsch and next in line contender, Alexander Gustafsson. His lone career loss was to #4 UFC light heavyweight Rashad Evans. We do not expect Davis to be able to close the distance on Machida and we fully expect a similar fight to the Machida vs Henderson fight where Henderson chased Machida around for three rounds and Machida ended up taking the decision victory.

Our third pick of the night is another light heavyweight match-up between Vinny Magalhaes and Anthony Perosh. Both guys are finishers, Magalhaes has finished 10 of his 10 victories and Perosh has finished 13 of his 13. In fact, Perosh has only gone to the third round twice in his career and on both occassions he lost a decision. In terms of losses, Persoh has 7 in his career and Magalhaes has 6. What’s interesting to note about the losses is that Magalhaes has only been finished in 2 of his 6, while Perosh has been finished in 5 of 7, all knockouts. In addition, Perosh is likely nearing the end of his career at 41 years old, while Magalhaes should have many good years left at the age of 29. Like the co-main event however, the odds seem to be pretty well-adjusted for these facts. A straight bet on Magalhaes sits at just 1.30 to 1, while Magalhaes winning inside the distance is at 1.67 to 1 and Magalhaes winning by decision is at 3.8 to 1. Since our model has Magalhaes as a heavy favourite and because Perosh seems pretty susceptible to being finished, we placed a 1 unit bet on Magalhaes to win inside the distance at 1.67 to 1.

Stay tuned to our Twitter for other tips and line movement informtation throughout the week leading up to the fight!

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Here’s the best odds for UFC 163 from BestFightOdds.com


BestFightOdds.com

UFC 163: Aldo vs Jung Prediction and Bet

UFC 163 is just a couple weeks away with UFC on Fox 8: Johnson vs Moraga in the interim. Unfortunately, we cannot predict the main event of that event due to Moraga’s limited time in the octagon so we will be providing our prediction and bet for Jose Aldo vs “The Korean Zombie” Chan Sung Jung at UFC 163 instead. UFC on Fox 8 goes down Saturday, July 27, 2013 from the Key Arena in Seattle, Washington and UFC 163 goes down the following Saturday, August 3 from the HSBC Arena in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. UFC 163 will look to top the 8 submission victories attained at UFC on Fuel TV: Nogeuira vs Werdum back in June of this year. The one major thing we took away from the last few UFC events in Brazil is that Brazilians perform better in their home country than in foreign countries (some of this may be attributed to favourable judging). Adding this to our model shows that a Brazilian fighting a non-Brazilian in Brazil has an increased chance of winning of 19%. Obviously this factors into our main event prediction with Brazilian Jose Aldo fighting Korean Chan Sung Jung.

UFC Featherweight champ, Jose Aldo comes into the UFC 163 contest as the fourth ranked UFC pound for pound fighter. He has been nearly undefeated in his 9 year fighting career with his lone loss coming to Luciano Azevedo back in November, 2005. Aldo’s 12 straight wins in the WEC/UFC bring him close to the record of 16 held by Anderson Silva. Of those 12 wins, an impressive 6 have been title defenses, including victories over number 1 featherweight fighter Chad Mendes and number 3 ranked Frankie Edgar. As a 26 year old, Aldo already has little left to prove with few remaining competitors in the featherweight division. Superfights are likely a reality of his future with a potential Benson Henderson fight on the horizon.

Challenger, Chan Sung Jung is well known for his 2010 fight of the year performance, a split decision loss to Leonard Garcia. Since being absorbed into the UFC with Zuffa’s purchase of WEC, Jung has gone on a nice little run with 3 straight victories over the aforementioned Garcia, a KO win over Mark Hominick and a submission victory over #7 featherweight, Dustin Poirier. Jung’s biggest assets are his chin and his determination, as demonstrated in the first Garcia fight, he has no willingness to give up regardless of the punishment he absorbs.

Tale of the Tape

Stat Aldo Jung
Height 5’7″ 5’7″
Reach 70″ 72″
Age 26 26
Record 22-1 13-3
UFC Record 4-0 3-0
Knockouts 13 3
Submissions 2 8
SLPM* 3.46 4.61
SAPM** 1.91 3.77
TD Acc*** 60% 83%
TD Def**** 92% 100%

* SLPM – significant strikes landed per minute
** SAPM – significant strikes absorbed per minute
*** TD Acc – Takedown accuracy percent
**** TD Def – Percentage of takedowns defended

Immediately jumping out at us is Jung’s SAPM number. Absorbing 3.77 significant strikes per minute is not a good way to win fights or have a lasting career. He will need to do a better job of avoiding the power of Aldo than he has done in some of his past fights, or he will quickly be separated from his senses. In terms of height, reach and age, there is little to choose from between the two. Jung’s 2 inch reach advantage will likely have little affect on the outcome of this fight. Both fighters score incredibly high on takedowns defended with Jung defending every takedown recorded statistically and Aldo defending 92% of takedowns attempted against him (with a higher caliber of opponent facing Aldo).

The overall record speaks volumes about Aldo’s years of dominance and Jung’s recent resurgence. We cannot forget while analyzing this fight that Jung was no more than a middle of the pack featherweight prior to joining the UFC when he went 1-3 for Sengoku and the WEC. Stylistically, Jung obviously favours the submission over the knockout whereas the champ, Aldo favours the KO. Aldo will obviously not be an easy target for Jung to submit, being 22-1 in his career with just a single decision loss in 2005.

Prediction

Our model has Aldo as a very strong favourite in this fight. We believe Jung has the chin to stand and trade with Aldo for 5 rounds and we see the possibility of this fight ending up on the ground as remote. In addition, based on his recent history and the fact that of the fights we have observed, 56% of featherweight fights have gone to decision, we decided to bet on Aldo to take the decision victory in this one. We got in on this bet at a tantalizing 4.47 to 1.

Bet

Aldo over Jung via Decision. 1 unit at 4.47 to 1

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Here are the latest UFC 163 odds from BestFightOdds.com:


BestFightOdds.com

Predicting Method of Victory and Round of Finish

As a logical next step in our fight prediction model, we decided to attempt to predict when and how fights will finish. While predicting a fight outcome can be very profitable, being able to accurately predict the round and method of victory would essentially be like a license to print money. Obviously, achieving this model would be incredibly difficult, and would probably require years and years of work and some luck along the way. We are here to share our preliminary results when attempting to predict the rounds in which fights end and how fights tend to finish.

To start off with, Reed Kuhn over at Fightnomics provides an excellent analysis of how fights tend to finish. The list of fights we use to generate our predictions is much smaller, and only encompasses fighters who have at least 3 fights worth of stats recorded in the fightmetric database.

Division Avg Rnd KO (%) Sub (%) Dec (%)
Heavyweight 1.96 66 15 18
Light Heavy 2.33 29 24 47
Middleweight 2.50 34 3 59
Welterweight 2.25 41 13 46
Lightweight 2.56 41 13 46
Featherweight 2.32 26 17 56
Bantamweight 2.32 26 19 55
Flyweight 2.58 26 32 42

We should note before expanding on this data that we have very few flyweight fights in our database. Therefore, even though the numbers are pretty much in line with the weight classes slightly above, we will not yet put very much stake into the output for that specific division. The division we have the most recorded fights for is the lightweight division with 44 fights. The first thing to notice, and it is probably expected, given the weight cap, is that heavyweight fights finish a third of a round faster than the next fastest division. In addition, an astounding 2/3 heavyweight fight finishes with a referee protecting one of the competitors (TKO/KO). Surprisingly, the only other division with more than 40% of fights ending via TKO/KO is the welterweight division. This may just be an anomaly over the last couple years, but memorable knockouts by Johny Hendricks, Jake Ellenberger, Tyron Woodley and newcomer Robbie Lawler all help to make the last couple years especially knockout-filled for the welterweight division.

How can we use this data to our advantage?

The obvious answer is to look for lines that seem advantageous based on the data above. A great example of this, is featherweight champ, Jose Aldo taking on Chan Sung Jung. Our model has Aldo as a very heavy favourite, as most people do according to the odds. The one thing that stands out about the odds though, is Aldo sits at 4.47 to 1 to win by decision. Less than half of the featherweight fights we have observed have finished inside the distance and Aldo has only been able to finish 2 of his last 5 opponents. We see some definite value at 4.47 to 1 in betting on Aldo to win via decision. An example of a well adjusted line would be Johnson vs Moraga going the distance sitting at 1.48 to 1. Flyweights generally lack the power to knock each other out and submissions tend to happen less frequently than knockouts (by extrapolating from other divisions), so if anything the line may even be a little low.

Modelling Finish Round

Attempting to model fight lengths has been a frustrating experience. The output of our model is almost always under 2 rounds. It does seem however, there is a correlation between very low round estimates and actual fight finishes. For example, Herman vs Gonzaga was predicted to last less than a single round, which is exactly what happened. Unfortunately, even the aforementioned Aldo vs Jung fight is expected to last half a round as well. At this point, it is a struggle to find fights that are expected to last more than one full round. Modelling round outcomes will continue to be a work in progress as we move forward and collect more data.

Modelling TKO/KO Outcomes

Predicting fights that end in TKO/KO seems to be a bit more reliable. For example, Gonzaga vs Herman at UFC 162 was predicted to end in TKO/KO 62% of the time. Pierce vs Mitchell at the same event was predicted to have someone lying on the canvas 46% of the time. Kennedy vs Gracie was expected to end in TKO/KO just 20% of the time. The preliminary results of attempting to predict fights that end via KO or TKO seems promising. When Rory MacDonald takes on Jake Ellenberger, we project the fight to end in TKO/KO just 22% of the time. Machida vs Davis at UFC 163, on the other hand is expected to end in TKO/KO over 40% of the time.

Conclusion

There seems to be little evidence that we can accurately predict the round that fights end in so far. It will probably take a lot more work and a lot more data to accurately be able to come up with the rounds in which fights end. TKO/KO finishes on the other hand seem a bit easier to predict. The difficult part will be finding patterns in the data that are not easily seen with a brief look at the fighters stats. For example, predicting an Anderson Silva TKO is not nearly as impressive as would be predicting a Frankie Edgar TKO/KO. From now on, we will include our method of victory along with our fight outcome predictions in our blog posts. Stay tuned, UFC on Fox 8 and UFC 163 are both happening in the next couple weeks, leading into an incredibly busy month of August for The Fight Predictor.

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